Northwestern Press

Friday, August 23, 2019
PRESS PHOTO BY NANCY SCHOLZ Derek Holmes was an All-Colonial League player in two sports during his senior season and competed in the postseason in all three of his sports. Copyright - Nancy Scholz PRESS PHOTO BY NANCY SCHOLZ Derek Holmes was an All-Colonial League player in two sports during his senior season and competed in the postseason in all three of his sports. Copyright - Nancy Scholz

Holmes helps baseball team to state semifinals

Saturday, August 3, 2019 by CHUCK HIXSON Special to the Press in Sports

Derek Holmes has had a lot of successes over the past couple years at Northwestern Lehigh.

He’s played in states in both basketball and baseball, reaching the state semifinals with the Northwestern baseball team in 2018. In football, the 2018 team reached the semifinals of the District 11 playoffs and the finals of the Eastern Conference playoffs the previous season.

For his accomplishments, Holmes has been named this year’s Northwestern Press Male Athlete of the Year.

Probably the most impressive season for Holmes was his senior season on the baseball field. With Tyler Wiik having graduated, the team was looking for a catcher and Holmes stepped in even though he hadn’t caught since his freshman season and that was just as a back-up.

Not only did Holmes take to the position, he excelled. Plus, the rigors of catching didn’t put a crimp in his offense as he became one of the most dominant hitters in Lehigh Valley high school baseball, hitting .624 with five home runs and 36 RBI on the season.

Holmes also continued his impressive ability to make contact, striking out just four times, down from the six times he whiffed as a junior. In his senior season, Holmes was ranked among the top 20 players in the state.

“I’ve been fortunate to have a lot of great coaching and they stressed making contact and really worked with me on how to be a better offensive player,” said Holmes. “It really was the same with catching.

“They knew that I hadn’t been back there a lot and they worked with me on my mechanics and helped me get better as the season went on.”

In football, Holmes was selected to the Colonial League first-team all-stars as a defensive end and to the league’s second-team as a tight end on offense. During the season, coach Josh Snyder pointed to Holmes as being a key part of the Tigers team both offensively and defensively.

“Derek just works hard at everything that he does,” said Snyder. “He has the same fire and energy on offense and defense and looks to make something happen.

“He’s the type of kid that you can put into any situation and know that he’s going to do everything possible to make it work.”

As a tight end, Holmes was third on the team in receptions with 21, six of which were for touchdowns. He averaged just under 17 yards per catch in his senior season.

On defense, Holmes was a beast, leading the team with four sacks.

While most athletes stop at two sports, Holmes squeezed in basketball between the football and baseball seasons.

Admittedly not his best sport, Holmes played in 21 basketball games for the Tigers this past season, focusing on defense where his toughness paid off around the basket. Northwestern reached states this past season for the first time in many years.

“That’s what you always shoot for in high school is to make it to states,” said Holmes. “A lot of times you don’t get to play in states in one sport, let alone in two, so I was very fortunate. Again, it comes back to the coaches and my teammates that made everything fall into place.”

Holmes will be relatively close to home for his college career, attending Moravian University in Bethlehem where he will focus on baseball.

“I know that I owe a lot to a lot of people who helped me in high school and even before that,” said Holmes. “Athletics opened a lot of doors for me and I’m looking forward to college and to playing for Moravian. It’s also nice because I won’t be too far away, so I can still keep in touch with what’s going on at Northwestern and watch these other guys carry on what we were able to do the past few seasons.

“It’s an exciting time and I’m really enjoying it.”