Choosing to play baseball for Parkland Community College in Champaign continues to pay dividends for 2015 Belleville East graduate Brady Schanuel.
Schanuel, now 7-1 and leading the nation in strikeout average at more than 15 per game, visited Ole Miss over the weekend and has given a verbal commitment to play for the ninth-ranked Rebels.
“I went to a game down there and the amount of support from the fan base is unreal,” said Schanuel, noting crowds that can reach more than 10,000 at Swayze Field in Oxford, Miss., where he saw the Rebels playing against Southeastern Conference rival Auburn. “It was a little bit of everything: the crowd, the facilities, the coaches ... everything just felt right.
“I’ve heard the football games are madness, they’re so much fun. Everything about the university I love.”
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Schanuel said he also had planned to visit Missouri State, Arkansas and Central Florida, but quickly changed his mind.
“I just thought it couldn’t get any better than what I saw down in Oxford,” he said.
I went to a game down there and the amount of support from the fan base is unreal. It was a little bit of everything: the crowd, the facilities, the coaches ... everything just felt right.
Brady Schanuel on choosing Ole Miss
Schanuel, a hard-throwing right-hander, will join Ole Miss next season as a sophomore after just one year at Parkland. There’s also a chance he could still be selected in the upcoming Major League Draft based on his strong pitching numbers this spring.
Along with a 7-1 record and 1.71 ERA in nine games, Schanuel has 90 strikeouts in 52 2/3 innings against only 15 walks. He also has three complete games and his 90 strikeouts rank third in the nation.
Earlier this season, Schanuel was named National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) Division II Pitcher of the Week.
In an earlier News-Democrat story, Parkland pitching coach Jon Goebel said he wouldn’t be surprised to see Schanuel spend only one season at Parkland or even get drafted.
Schanuel credited the Parkland coaching staff for helping add to his size, strength and velocity thanks to a rigorous training program.
“A lot of lifting, getting strong and just getting my arm strong and in shape more,” Schanuel said. “They were all really supportive. I wouldn’t be committed to Ole Miss without their help and reaching out to these coaches.
“It was deifnintely a grind, but it really paid off and I’m glad it did.”
Ole Miss is 31-10 and ranked ninth in the country. The Rebels coach is Mike Bianco, who has coached 14 All-Americans and had 88 players drafted over the last 15 seasons.
Freshman outfielder D.J. Miller, a Granite City High graduate, has appeared in 13 games.
“They said they could definitely see me as a weekend (pitching rotation) guy next year,” Schanuel said. “Their coach has been known to be brutally honest and for him to say that was a big deal for me.”
One of those former Ole Miss draft picks was Althoff High graduate Brett Huber, who set the Rebels’ career saves record with 38. Huber was hired by Ole Miss earlier this year as one of two directors of baseball operations.