Edwardsville High teammates Brock Weimer and Aaron Jackson won't have to travel far to reach their goal of playing Division I college baseball.
Both have given verbal commitments to Southern Illinois University Edwardsville and will sign with the Cougars in the fall.
"Fortunately for SIUE and also for our guys they were able to find a good fit," said Edwardsville coach Tim Funkhouser, whose team relied heavily on the hard-hitting duo during a 32-8 season that saw the Tigers reach the Class 4A Champaign Super-Sectional before losing 6-5 to (New Lenox) Providence Catholic. "It will be fun to continue to track those guys in college -- and it will be a 10-minute drive from my house to see them play."
Jackson, a third baseman, outfielder and pitcher, was the Tigers' top hitter this spring with a .450 average. Weimer, an all-state catcher, was right behind at .430.
Jackson collected eight doubles, four home runs and 32 RBIs while Weimer had a team-leading 16 doubles, tied for the team lead with five home runs and led Edwardsville with 33 RBIs.
SIUE was 21-33 overall this spring, including a 16-14 mark in the Ohio Valley Conference.
"I watched a few of their games being a hometown kid and I really like their campus and their facilities are second to none," said Weimer, who also had offers from Western Illinois and Heartland College along with interest from Illinois State. "I though it could be a great fit for me. After visiting and meeting with the coaches and getting to see their facilities I knew that's where I wanted to play. I didn't wait very long.
"If you get one you like there's no reason to wait around because there's other guys that are getting offers too."
The idea of having family and friends able to see a lot of games appealed to both players.
"It seems like they're getting better each year and it helps that it's right in my backyard, basically," Jackson said. "It will be nice to stay around here. The more I saw the campus, going inside and hearing about all the academic programs, it sounded more enticing."
Weimer is strong defensively, but generates major power at the plate. He hit four home runs in a recent summer tournament in Omaha, Neb., and continues to add strength to a smooth approach.
"His bat really plays at a high level," Funkhouser said of Weimer, who had seven homers and 38 RBIs for Edwardsville High's 24-8 summer team. "He had a solid spring and was able to follow it up with an even better summer. He continued to hit for power with doubles and home runs and was consistent behind the plate.
"His work ethic and the character he brings to the field each day are great and the desire to get better influences others around him."
Weimer was one of several metro-east players earning spots on the Illinois High School Baseball Coaches Association All-State Team.
They were honored at a banquet in the Chicago area this week and introduced on the field before a Chicago White Sox home game.
The other metro-east all-state players were O'Fallon pitcher-outfielder Blake Deatherage, Granite City catcher Chad Spanberger, O'Fallon pitcher-outfielder Bradley Harrison, Alton pitcher Bryan Hudson, Mascoutah pitcher-shortstop Ryan Netemeyer, Nashville catcher Jordan Harre, Freeburg pitcher-shortstop Nick Yung and New Athens infielder Tyler Meyer.
Funkhouser said Weimer is one of Edwardsville's best catchers in recent memory.
"He's that rock-solid guy you look for that really influences a team," Funkhouser said.
Once Weimer committed to SIUE, Jackson wasn't far behind.
"I absolutely love playing with Brock, he inspires me to do better each day," Jackson said. "He's one of the most hard-working players I've ever met. With as great a player as he is, he's also like the most humble teammate I've ever had."
Jackson said the SIUE coaching staff projects him as a third baseman or corner outfielder. Like Weimer, he also had interest from Heartland College and also like Weimer, Jackson displays a lot of power and run production potential.
"I'd definitely like to take on that role," Jackson said. "My goal next year is to repeat the spring I had and maybe try to do even a little bit better."
Both of Jackson's parents attended SIUE and he has a sister there now.
The versatile Jackson played a lot of shortstop for the Edwardsville High summer team, but third base is his main spot.
"He is a definite fit there," Funkhouser said. "He shows really good range at third base and shows the ability to make really special plays. He had a great spring for us. That was a guy (SIUE) was really targeting at that position and it ended up bring a great fit."