PERU — Two St. Bede senior athletes took advantage of the early-signing period to commit to their future college avenues.
Brad Groleau made his commitment final Friday at the Academy, signing with McKendrie College to play baseball. Classmate Lainie Schweickert plans to do the same to play softball for Lewis University.
While Groleau is a three-sport standout for the Bruins, contributing to another playoff appearance in football and preparing to tip off the hoop season next week, there is no secret baseball is his favorite.
“It was a goal to play baseball in college, and it’s definitely my first love. I love the game of baseball,” Groleau said. “Not taking anything away from football or basketball, but it will be nice when I get to college to focus on that one sport.”
He found McKendrie College, which is located in Lebanon, Ill., near St. Louis, to be the perfect fit, even as a Cubs fan in Cardinals country.
“I looked at bigger schools and smaller schools, and the Division II level seemed just right. I’m just really happy with my decision, and I’m glad I could get it done in this early signing period,” Groleau said. “With basketball coming up and once baseball rolls around, I can concentrate on my senior year, which is really nice.”
He did look at the other Division II programs, but he liked what he saw of the McKendrie campus with new batting cages and other training facilities like the turf football field which doubles as a baseball practice site during the winter. The academics side was also a plus, bringing similarities to the Academy.
“It’s sort of a smaller classroom, and getting to know the teachers very well seemed like something I was looking for,” said Groleau, who would like to pursue something in accounting or economics.
Groleau is excited for his senior season of baseball with a Bruins outfit bringing back much experience.
Schweickert had a similar good feeling about Lewis, when she was first contacted by assistant coach John Mackinson during her summer softball season.
“The campus was really nice, wasn’t too big or too small. I really liked it when I went there and the coaches,” she said.
As baseball is a love for Groleau, so is pitching and softball for Schweickert.
“I’ve been pitching since I was 8. My dad (Jerry) taught me a lot. I grew up doing it, (and) I like it,” said Schweickert, who is considering studying physical therapy.
She estimates she played close to 100 games throughout the course of the calendar year, including the past spring season for St. Bede and summer softball split between the Starved Rock Bandits and Quad City Firebirds. Of those, she pitched in at least 80.
While Lewis could bring back three pitchers in 2014, Schweickert expects to get the opportunity to pitch right away for the Flyers.
But first, Schweickert is looking forward to what should be another promising season for the Lady Bruins next spring.
“We should be pretty good this year. We lost a couple of seniors, but we have some juniors coming that should be pretty good, who hopefully can fill their spots,” she said.
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