Noah Millikan, a senior at Berkeley High School (BHS), has been playing baseball for the past 15 years, and will continue to play in college, as a pitcher for the University of Pennsylvania (UPenn).
Millikan described his time on the BHS baseball team as a bright spot in high school, and even more so during the COVID-19 pandemic. “It’s been really fun, [I] love the guys … especially now, when we’re in [COVID-19], it’s a fun place to be, so I’m not stuck in my house all day,” he said. Millikan added that a highlight of being on the BHS team were the annual trips to Fresno for tournaments, giving them new competition to face and a chance to grow closer as a group.
Initially, Millikan said he was lost in the recruitment process: “I kind of had no idea how it was going to work, because no one in my family had gone through that before.” However, after participating in showcases, Millikan’s path became more clear. At one of these events, which took place at a minor league stadium, he had the opportunity to put his full talent on display, including his 89 mph fastball.
“I would go out on to a mound, with all the coaches watching me, and I’m just out there, and they’d have a radar gun, a machine called a Rapsodo, which measures spin rate, velocity, movement, and all that stuff, and I’d throw 15 pitches or something,” he said.
The data would then be collected and sent to players, who could then send it to colleges. Then, the universities most interested in Millikan would call him and he would have the opportunity to talk to their coaches.
Although Millikan received offers from schools with higher ranking baseball programs, including Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, in the end, Millikan’s decision to commit to UPenn came down to the coaching staff. He said, “I loved the coaches; they had really in-depth plans for what they were going to do with me to get me better, to the next level,” and added that “obviously going to [UPenn] is a great academic opportunity for me.”
Millikan most looks forward to “the formality” of college baseball. “When I get there, everyone is going to be super serious about baseball, and care and love it as much as I do, and everyone is going to be super good, and I’m just really excited to be around that level of talent and competition,” he said.
Lastly, Millikan offered a piece of advice to younger athletes also trying to get recruited. “Don’t feel pressure to go somewhere just because it’s prestigious, or it’s ranked high, go somewhere where you’re going to have fun and where you feel like you’re going to like the people,” he said.
Ben Morgan, a catcher for the BHS baseball team, has committed to Pitzer College.
Morgan described the BHS team as a very welcoming place, saying, “I would say that the coaches are very uplifting,” and added that “there’s not a lot of yelling and screaming going on, it’s a good environment, we all get along very well.”
Last year, although the season was cut short due to COVID-19, the BHS team found success when it grabbed a 2-2 tie against Clayton Valley, “one of the best teams in California,” said Morgan. “We just came out and fought really hard,” he said.
Morgan’s recruitment process started in between his sophomore and junior year of high school, when he went to a showcase at Stanford University, where many elite academic universities were present. At the showcase, Morgan had the opportunity to introduce himself to the Pomona-Pitzer coach amidst his various evaluations. Although Morgan stayed in touch with the coach throughout his junior year, once the pandemic arrived, difficulties started to arise as competition thickened.
“I’m sure they had hundreds of kids emailing and texting them, because it kind of opened up the opportunity for more kids to get noticed, just because it’s all online,” Morgan said. Fortunately, through a connection Morgan had with a former coach of his, he was able to get in more direct contact with the Pomona-Pitzer coaching staff. After a few Zoom meetings with them, and once he had visited the school, Morgan was offered a spot and he accepted. Morgan said, “I’m looking forward to building comradery with a new group of guys, because all of my best friends have come from playing baseball, and I feel like it’s a really special bond you get.”
Morgan said that a main reason he was drawn to Pitzer College was due to the academics. “Going to a good school was more important than playing at a great baseball school for me,” he explained. He emphasized this as advice for younger athletes. “If I didn’t have good enough grades, then I wouldn’t have been able to play baseball at all,” Morgan said, and added, “It’s really important to keep your grades up.”
BHS baseball, led by Millikan and Morgan, opened their season on March 12 with a 3-2 win over Dougherty Valley.