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After his Muscatine baseball career came to a close in the summer of 2017 Nate Holliday received calls from various colleges that gave him an opportunity to play at the next level.

However, the former Muskie standout had no desire to play college baseball at that time.

“I don’t really know why,” Holliday said. “I just felt like I needed some time off.”

Fast-forward 14 months and Holliday is a week removed from announcing his commitment to South Dakota State to play baseball for the Division I program in the Summit League. He will play one more season of community college baseball before heading to South Dakota State next August.

“The facilities and everything were just amazing,” Holliday said. “It just felt like home to me, and the players were really welcoming. The head coach is a really good guy, and it just seems like a really good fit for me.”

Midway through the fall semester in 2017, Holliday decided it was time to get out of Muscatine. He felt baseball was his ticket out of town so he reached out to former Muscatine baseball coach Edwin Colón and told him he was ready to play college baseball.

“I’ve grown up playing the game literally every day in the summer for years and years,” Holliday said. “I wasn’t really a fan of going to Muscatine Community College, and I felt like my ticket out of Muscatine was baseball.

“I’m glad I chose that route.”

Colon contacted a coach at Des Moines Area Community, and that’s where Holliday ended up for the second semester last school year. He went 1-2 and struck out 21 batters last spring.

But, most importantly, Holliday has managed to increase his velocity since his freshman season ended. His fastball was between 84 and 87 miles per hour during the season, but it’s increased to the high 80s and can even touch 91 miles per hour.

“I think it’s just a different mindset,” Holliday said of his improvement. “It’s way more intense in the weight room this year. I’m more driven to be better and reach the next level.”

Evan Reifert commits to North Carolina: Evan Reifert declined to sign with the Texas Rangers after they drafted him 899th overall in last spring’s MLB Draft, but that doesn’t mean the former Wilton standout won’t be playing baseball in the near future.

Reifert, who currently plays at Iowa Area Community College, will head to North Carolina on a baseball scholarship next August.

“They had some interest in my this fall and gave me a decent offer,” Reifert said. “I really liked their coaching staff and their campus, just a beautiful area. I felt really comfortable, and it was just the right fit for me.”

Reifert battled through injuries in his freshman season at North Iowa Area Community College but compiled a 1-1 record with 28 strikeouts and 21 walks in 17 ⅔ innings last spring.

The Wilton native went on a visit to Iowa a few weeks ago and attempted to set up a visit to the University of Texas, but it never worked out. Fearful the North Carolina offer might not be there forever, Reifert pulled the trigger.

“I felt the North Carolina offer was going away soon,” he said. “It’s the place for me and the right bet.”

In addition to the campus and head coach Mike Fox, Reifert was also persuaded by pitching coach Robert Woodard and his ability to get players ready for the next level.

“He’s known for developing really good pitchers and getting guys to the next level,” Reifert said of Woodard. “That played a role. It was a very big factor.”

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