Baseball Signs Ten in Class of 2017

Illinois Central College Head Baseball Coach Brett Kelley didn’t have to look far to find the core of his Class of 2017. Six of the 10 members of the class are within a 20-minute drive of ICC’s East Peoria campus. The other four live less than an hour away.

“This was a tremendous year for talent in our backyard,” Kelley said. “And that’s where we’ve had a lot of our recruiting successes in recent years – right here close to home. For our program, we believe it’s best to have kids from right here close to home. Some years, the level of talent just isn’t there, but this year was a no-doubt year.”

The core group includes five pitchers — Blake Begner (Peoria Heights HS), Carson Hardy, (Henry-Senachwine HS), Colton Hutt (Washington Community HS), Lucas Ketcham (Canton HS), Drake Strode (Canton HS) and Braydon Weber (East Peoria Community HS).

“We’re really happy with this group,” Kelley said. “Begner, Hardy, Hutt and Weber have all pitched at very high levels these last two summers with the Central Illinois Outlaws program and they have all excelled against elite competition.”

For Ketcham, he’s following in the footsteps of his older brother, Jake, who caught for Kelley during the 2014 and 2015 seasons. He’ll be once again teamed with Strode, who he’s played three sports with at various times for Canton. On the offensive side, Kelley was able to land four talented local players in catcher Adam Christianson (Morton HS), outfielder Trevor Davis (Morton HS), infielder Ben Hopkins (Dunlap) and infielder Braden Willoughby (Maroa-Forsyth HS formerly of Washington). Hutt and Strode will earn at-bats as well.

“There are some outstanding bats in that class,” Kelley said. “And three out of the four – Christianson, Davis and Hopkins – swing it from the left side, which is nice when you’re trying to balance out lineups.”

While this class won’t arrive until August, Kelley and his current Cougars will open the season Feb. 24 at the John A. Logan Invitational against the hosts, Carl Sandburg, Illinois Valley and South Suburban.  Meet the new signees by clicking on this link:  Baseball 2017 Recruits