College notes: MSU, CMU coaching legends make College Baseball Hall of Fame

Tony Paul
The Detroit News

Two state college baseball legends — late Michigan State coach Danny Litwhiler and former Central Michigan coach Dave Keilitz — are getting their place in the College Baseball Hall of Fame.

The College Baseball Foundation and the National College Baseball Hall of Fame, based in Lubbock, Texas, made the announcement this week.

The ceremony is set for June 26, and will be virtual.

Late Michigan State baseball coach Danny Litwhiler was elected to the College Baseball Hall of Fame.

Litwhiler coached the likes of Kirk Gibson and Steve Garvey at Michigan State, where he was 489-362-8, with two Big Ten titles and three NCAA Tournament appearances. He also coached Florida State to seven NCAAs and three College World Series.

Litwhiler died in 2011 at 95. He also had an 11-year major-league career that was briefly interrupted by Army service in World War II. He had a 21-game hitting streak as a rookie, and was an all-star with the Phillies.

"We're extremely thrilled for not only Danny Litwhiler, but the entire Litwhiler family, for this honor. Skip was a pioneer in all facets of college baseball," current Michigan State head coach Jake Boss Jr. said in a statement. "The impact that Skip left on Michigan State is certainly far reaching, and he was an even better human being than he was a coach, and we're proud to have our program forever associated with Danny Litwhiler. We're very happy for this most deserving honor for him and his family."

Keilitz, a Midland native, coached Central Michigan for 14 seasons, compiling a 453-203-6 record from 1971-84, winning four Mid-American Conference titles and making six NCAA Tournament appearances. He also played baseball at Central Michigan and was an All-American, and was the school's athletic director for 10 years.

His No. 34 was retired in 2018, and the Central Michigan baseball field is named after him: The Keilitz Family Field at Theunissen Stadium. He also was a long-time executive director of the American Baseball Coaches Association who helped make the push for bracket expansion of the NCAA Tournament.

This is the seventh Hall of Fame for Keilitz, who entered the Michigan Baseball Hall of Fame in 2018 alongside Kalamazoo native and Yankees legend Derek Jeter.

"It's a wonderful honor," Keilitz said in a statement. "Each Hall of Fame that I've been fortunate enough to be included in is special and each one is a little bit different. I'm very humbled by it. None of these would be possible without the opportunities that I've had, most of which lead back to Central Michigan University.

"No recognition like this, or any others that I've received, are possible without an awful lot of help and wonderful people along the way."

Former Central Michigan coach Dave Keilitz, center, is entering the College Baseball Hall of Fame.

Others in  the 14-person class include five-time MLB All-Star Todd Helton (Tennessee), 1989 American League rookie of the year Gregg Olson (Auburn) and four-time major-league All-Star catcher Terry Kennedy (Florida State).

This & that

►The WNBA season got under way Thursday, and on Friday night, the Atlanta Dream will get started against the Connecticut Sun. A Central Michigan alum could make the court, but not the one you'd think. Crystal Bradford, who played briefly in the WNBA for the Los Angeles Sparks in 2015, has made the Opening Night roster for the Dream, while Micaela Kelly, who led the Chippewas to the last three NCAA Tournaments, didn't make the Sun's roster after being drafted in the second round of April's draft.

The only other player from a Michigan college on a 2020-21 WNBA roster is Michigan State's Aerial Powers, who begins her first season with the Minnesota Lynx.

►Grand Valley State women's golf advanced to the team match-play portion of the NCAA Championships at TPC Michigan in Dearborn, making it on the number with an eighth-place showing in stroke play. Grand Valley is led by Plymouth's Katie Chipman, the four-time GLIAC player of the year who tied for 16th individually. The Lakers were set to play Limestone University on Friday morning.

►A big five-game baseball series takes place in Kalamazoo this weekend, between Western Michigan and chief rival Central Michigan. The Chippewas (31-13, 22-6) lead the Mid-American Conference, and the Broncos (17-21, 16-12) are 5.5 games back.

►A familiar face entered the transfer portal this week: 7-foot, 245-pound forward Braden Burke, who most recently played at Central Michigan, but also has had stops at Michigan State and Robert Morris. He's a Stevensville Lakeshore alum.

►Michigan State student-athletes posted the school's highest-ever cumulative GPA, at 3.3051. Seven programs (football, men's golf, gymnastics, volleyball, softball, rowing and women's track and field) set records.

►The Michigan women's water polo team opens the NCAA Tournament on Friday, against Arizona State in Los Angeles. It's UM's fifth consecutive NCAA appearance.

►Central Michigan's Natalie Karlen was named MAC offensive player of the year in lacrosse, having averaged 4.27 goals per game.

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tpaul@detroitnews.com

Twitter: @tonypaul1984