FARINA — Recent South Central graduate Austin Schwarm had long ago decided that McKendree University was where he wanted to spend the next four years. The size felt just right, the drive home wasn't too long and it offered him a chance to study both accounting and sports management.When Bearcats baseball coach Jim Boehne offered him a late spot on the roster, it made the decision that much sweeter."I knew I didn't want to go anywhere else," Schwarm said. "I didn't like any college other than McKendree. I was going to go there whether I played or not. Then I got the opportunity."Schwarm initially worked out with the Bearcats as a to-be senior last summer. After a few months without any contact, McKendree called again to gauge Schwarm's interest. It had not faded.Schwarm said he was offered a walk-on spot with the team, and that he's looking forward to playing baseball at the next level."It's exciting to know that I'm going to get to keep playing now," he said. "I'm not done forever like I thought."His addition to the roster marks the second area player to pledge their allegiance to the Bearcats, as North Clay catcher Nate Micklautz signed a letter of intent to catch for McKendree earlier this spring.Schwarm roamed all over the outfield during his senior season, helping the Cougars win their own regional crown over Altamont and earn a berth in the sectional title game. He doesn't know where he'll play for the Bearcats, but he figures to give his new club the same work ethic he displayed in Farina."I know I'll work hard," he said. "I'm willing to play anywhere really. I played outfield all fall and spring, but I'll play wherever they need me."Schwarm insists that he won't become a stranger in his hometown despite his new commitments. Lebanon is just a short drive west, and was another major reason why McKendree represented the ideal fit."It was close to home," he said. "It kind of has that hometown feel. I didn't want to go anywhere big, I could come home every weekend."
Braden Layer can be reached at 217-347-7151, ext. 123, or at firstname.lastname@example.org