National Signing Day, the first day when high school athletes can their National Letters of Intent, was Wednesday, Nov. 8, and four O’Fallon Township baseball players took the opportunity to make their college commitments.
Brayden Arnold, a senior right-handed pitcher/infielder/outfielder signed to play at Maryville University for coach Brian Niebalski.
Logan Boente, a senior right-handed pitcher, signed to play at McKendree University for coach Danny Jackson.
Garrett Herring, a senior right-handed pitcher, signed at Southwestern Illinois College to play for coach Neil Fiala, and Hayden Juenger, a senior righ-handed pitcher/infielder, committed to Missouri State University and coach Keith Guttin.
OTHS baseball coach Jason Portz commented the four were “a good group.”
But they will are likely only the first round of college signings off the Panthers.
“We’ll have three to four more seniors signing on somewhere to play soon as well,” Portz said.
Arnold, the son of Chris Arnold, batted cleanup for the Panthers last season. He hit .333 with nine doubles, three home runs and 26 RBIs as a junior. But his coach said he has even more power potential.
“Brayden is as strong of a player as we have in our program, who will again be counted on as an impact guy for us in 2018,” Portz said.
On the mound, Arnold was 8-1 with a 2.85 ERA in 47 innings pitched.
“He has the ability to throw all his pitches for strikes and can be a dominant force with and upper 80s fastball,” Portz said.
Arnold had a great deal of recruiting interest with Division I and Division II schools, but ultimately chose Maryville, a Division II school in St. Louis that plays in the Great Lakes Valley Conference.
Portz thought the school and Arnold will be a good fit.
“At Maryville, Brayden will have a chance to go in and contribute right away on the mound and as a positional guy,” he said.
Logan Boente will earn his fourth varsity letter in baseball this year. He is 15-2 in his career on the mound at OTHS.
“That speak volumes about his ability and potential to be a productive collegiate pitcher,” Portz said.
Last year, as a junior, Boente was 8-1 with a 0.91 ERA in 46 innings pitched.
Portz said Boente loves to compete on the mound and can get hitters out with a variety of pitches and varied approach.
“As Logan has gained size and strength, he has gained the ability to get both strikeouts and soft contact with his ability to command the zone with four pitches,” Portz said.
Boente’s parents, of Steve and Fay Boente, will be able to watch their son play a lot.
“McKendree College is close to home, and with Logan’s strong family ties, McKendree is a great fit for him moving forward,” Portz said.
Herring was a varsity letter winner at OTHS as a junior and figures to be a key fixture in the Panther rotation in 2018.
“SWIC coach Neil Fiala is getting a diamond in the rough with Garrett Herring,” Portz said.
Herring, the son of Todd and Lena Herring, had a great spring and summer in 2017 with the St. Louis Gamers, Portz said.
“Garrett is a player who continues to grow and develop as a pitcher. Focusing all of his attention now as a pitcher only, Garrett is beginning to see the command of his pitches develop with an already proven live and loose arm,” he said.
He’s loaded with potential, his coach said, with “his best baseball ahead of him.”
“Garret has the frame and length to not only be a contributor at the junior college level but an impact, upper-level arm moving forward with added experience and strength,” Portz said.
Juenger, the son of Shannon M. and Shannon L. Juenger, was 7-2 with a 2.20 ERA and 62 strikeouts in 63 innings pitched for OTHS as a junior.
“Hayden was the pitcher that drew all of our top opponents on 2017 and will again figure to be our go-to guy in 2018,” Portz said.
At the plate, he hit .359 with seven doubles, a triple and had 23 RBIs.
“Hayden had an outstanding junior season where he emerged as the Panthers No. 1 arm and a legitimate Division I prospect,” Portz said.
Juenger received a substantial amount of Division I interest before committing Missouri State, which is located in Springfield, Missouri. The Bears are a perennial top 25 team. They compete in the always strong Missouri Valley Conference and are a regular contender to advance to the NCAA College World Series.
“MSU Coach Keith Guttin is getting a fierce competitor on the mound, who possesses a lower-90s fastball and developing breaking pitch. Hayden will have a chance to step into MSU and compete for mound time immediately as a freshman,” Portz said.
Other OTHS commitments
▪ Elise Smith made a commitment to play volleyball at Caldwell University, a Catholic liberal arts university in Caldwell, New Jersey. Smith, an outside hitter, racked up over 1,000 career kills at OTHS.
▪ Sam Stutsman, a midfielder on the OTHS girls soccer team, made a verbal commitment to the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.
▪ Emily Marrs will play women’s golf at Western Illinois. Marrs is a two-time recipient of the Belleville News-Democrat’s Class 2A Player of the Year.
▪ Alyssa McMinn will play women’s golf at the University of Evansville. McMinn was honored as the Belleville News-Democrat Player of the Year this year. She finished in fourth place at the IHSA state tournament this fall.
▪ Brooke Boatman will play women’s golf at McKendree University.