By Grant Montgomery
Perhaps the two most impressive pitchers in all of the Northwoods League call Rockford home for the summer. Brad Littleton and Jimmy Burnette have both been outstanding for the Rivets thus far this season, and they have both been voted to the Northwoods League All-Star game in Waterloo, Iowa.
Brad Littleton, of Lewis University in Romeoville, Illinois has been more than impressive this season for Rockford. He owns a 4-1 record on the year and that is paired with a 2.14 ERA which ranks 8th in all of the Northwoods League. Among his team leading 42 innings pitched, he has struck out 38 batters while only issuing 12 walks.
While Littleton has been a workhorse for Rockford, his best start was undoubtedly on June 11th against the Kenosha Kingfish. He had his best stuff working for him that night, as he had not allowed a hit through 8.2 innings. Though the Kingfish were able to record a hit off Littleton, that does not take anything away from the masterful performance that he put on. After that contest, Rivets field manager Josh Keim spoke highly of the outing, saying, “That was one of the best pitching performances I have ever seen at any level.” Littleton’s final line on the evening was 9 IP, 1 H, 0 R, and 9 K.
When asked about the chance to play in the All-Star game, Littleton was very appreciative of the nod, saying, “Becoming an all-star has been something that I’ve always wanted to be a part of ever since I came to the Northwoods League. I consider it a huge honor to be put into the same category as some of the best pitchers in the ‘woods’ and that is exactly what I have worked for every day this year.” When speaking about how he can carry this nod into the second half of the season, Littleton did not hold back, stating, “Being able to represent Rockford as an all-star is a big deal. It shows other teams and coaches that Rockford can be a threat and make a deep run into the playoffs at the end of the year.”
Rockford’s other all-star is Jimmy Burnette, of the University of Illinois. He has had some great moments for the Rivets this year, and has been able to put up some of the most impressive strikeout numbers across the Northwoods League. Burnette owns a 1-1 record on the year to go along with 33.2 innings pitched. Across those 33.2 innings, he has struck out a total of 42 batters which is 7th overall in the league. He will head into the break with a 3.21 ERA, good enough for 16th in the Northwoods League.
When speaking about what it means to him to be part of the All-Star festivities, as well as the confidence he has carried all year, Burnette said, “It’s a special thing because I’ve worked hard to get myself to this point. Confidence is key when it comes to baseball. There are so many ups and downs, so the more confidence you have the more frequent the ups will be. All I can do is go back out on the mound and continue to do what I have been able to do all summer.” Burnette is looking forward to the opportunity to play with the league’s best and he says the thing he is looking forward to the most is playing with all the other players that have been voted onto the team, and play in such a competitive atmosphere.
When asked about the two all-star caliber players that Rockford possesses, Josh Keim was high on praise for both pitchers, saying, “Jimmy and Brad have been very impressive this summer. Both are huge pieces to the success we have had with our pitching staff this summer. I can’t speak highly enough of their competitive drive to get better every day and understand what it takes to pitch at a high level. Their success will carry into school, which is exciting to see out of those two.”
Be sure to check out two of Rockford’s finest players during the break. All-Star festivities are set to take place in Waterloo, Iowa on July 16th with the home run derby beginning at 5:30 followed by the game at 7:05. It will be hosted by the Waterloo Bucks of the Great Plains East division of the Northwoods League.
The Rockford Rivets are a member of the finest developmental league for elite college baseball players, the Northwoods League. The 25-year old summer collegiate league is the largest organized baseball league in the world with 22 teams, drawing significantly more fans, in a friendly ballpark experience, than any league of its kind. A valuable training ground for coaches, umpires and front office staff, over 200 former Northwoods League players have advanced to Major League Baseball, including three-time Cy Young Award winner Max Scherzer (WAS), two-time World Series Champions Ben Zobrist (CHC) and Brandon Crawford (SFG) and MLB All-Stars Chris Sale (BOS), Jordan Zimmermann (DET) and Curtis Granderson (MIA). All league games are viewable live via the Northwoods League portal. For more information, visit www.rockfordrivets.com or download the new Northwoods League Mobile App on the Apple App Store or on Google Play and set the Rivets as your favorite team.