Whiteland baseball player Drew Helton suspected he would one day knock the dirt from his cleats and step into not one, but four, shadows.
The sophomore pitcher/third baseman has settled in to his role as a varsity player, producing video-game numbers during the Warriors’ 5-1 start this season.
Helton, the second hitter in coach Scott Sherry’s lineup, brought a scalding .737 batting average (14 for 19) into Tuesday’s Mid-State Conference doubleheader against Plainfield.
Given the family lineage, it’s hardly a surprise.
Helton’s father Mike, a 1987 Whiteland graduate, was a starter on the 1985 squad that advanced to the single-class Final Four in Indianapolis. Mike Helton belted 10 home runs that season and 26 for his career, school standards that still stand today.
Luke Helton, Drew’s older brother, pitches at Morehead State. He, too, set his share of Whiteland single-season and career records before recording his final out during the 2019 season.
If one wants to go way back — okay, way, way back to the era of yellowed newspaper clippings and nary a mention of baseball analytics — twin brothers Raymond and Lehman Helton, Drew’s great-uncle and grandfather, respectively, were outstanding players for Whiteland before graduating in 1965.
Whatever the family’s baseball version of “it” is, Drew wasn’t shortchanged.
“I think it’s just competitiveness,” Sherry said. “It’s ingrained in them somehow. They’re all competitive with each other and with other people. That’s what’s made them successful.
“With Drew and Luke, there’s a little different temperament. Drew is a little quieter than Luke. Not as outspoken. I think Drew is a way better offensive player than Luke, but they are very, very similar.”
The 2021 Warriors resided beneath the radar with a 10-16 record, but Helton nonetheless stood out as a freshman, leading the team with a .381 batting average and going 3-1 on the hill with a 1.77 ERA.
“I came into it just looking to see how things would go,” Helton said. “I knew we had a solid team, so I had to work to play as a freshman. But I was looking forward to it. My biggest jump (this season) has probably been on the mound.
“I usually play basketball, but I tore my (left) meniscus the first day of practice, and I had to recover from that.”
A combination of time and the prescribed rehabilitation made Helton good to go by the start of this baseball season. His offseason work included getting his swings in three or four times a week inside the barn near the Whiteland football stadium.
“Drew could play a multitude of positions,” Sherry said. “He could really play anywhere on the infield, and could probably catch a ball in the outfield, if we needed him to. But pitcher and third base are his primary positions.
“Drew has phenomenal hands around the ball and a feel for grounders and short hops. He is innately skilled in that.”
Helton is just as adept at getting in any dig possible at his lone sibling.
Comparisons of Drew and Luke being made now and over the next two Whiteland baseball seasons are inevitable.
“I’d like to say I’m a better hitter than him,” Helton said, smiling. “He doesn’t like that, but …”
But it’s part of brotherly oneupsmanship, being a competitor — and yes, being a Helton.