Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Schillace to be a Rocket

AVON — When Caleb Schillace was two years old, his mom Jaci let him throw a ball around the house.

She put on a baseball glove and let her son throw to her as much as he wanted to, as long as he didn’t break anything.

Luckily for mom, she never had to worry about that as Caleb hit her glove, throw after throw.

Caleb’s dead-on accuracy at such a young age followed him as he got older, and on Monday afternoon, the right-hander was rewarded as he signed his National Letter of Intent to play baseball at the University of Toledo.

The signing was held at the TRAQ Performance Insitute in Avon as Schillace, along with Twinsburg’s Scott Effross (Indiana University), Walsh Jesuit’s Michael Marsinek (Eastern Michigan), St. Edward’s Tommy Mirabelli (University of Kansas) and Strongville’s Forrest Perron (University of Cincinnati) were accompanied by family, coaches and teammates.

Other schools Schillace looked at were the University of Cincinnati, Cornell and Youngstown State, but UT was the better fit.

“It’s a great feeling,” Schillace said of getting the opportunity to play at the next level. “I fell in love with everything at (UT). My sister went there so I’ve gotten to see the campus before.”

With still a few months left — and another spring season at Keystone — Schillace is excited to have already commited to a college.

“A lot of pressure is released,” he said. “It’s nice to get off my shoulders and have my senior year not worrying (about where I’m going to play).”

His mom agrees.

“It’s exciting, it was quite a process,” Jaci said. “I like their program and its approach to academics.”

The future Rocket will study exercise science in addition to playing for coach Cory Mee, who led UT to a fourth place finish last year in the Mid-American Conference West Division.

For the past couple of years, Schillace has been under the direction of Neall French, who is the head coach for the T3 Pelicans. He couldn’t be happier for Caleb and the four other signees.

“It’s awesome,” French said. “These guys come with goals to play at the next level and it’s great to see them rewarded. It’s extremely gratifying.”

French knows a little something about the sport as well, having spent time with the New York Yankees before being slowed by injuries.

The former professional baseball player and Bay Village native is looking forward to following Schillace and the others at the college level.

“(Caleb’s) a great kid,” French said. “He’s mature beyond his years and his greatest years are ahead of him.”

And with the MAC tournament moving from VA Memorial Stadium in Chillicothe to All Pro Freight Stadium in Avon, French will get to see more of Schillace.

French, along with pitching coach and former Seattle Mariner Clint Nageotte, have helped mold Schillace into the player he is today, which is something Jaci is thankful for.

“Without the coaches I would be lost,” she said. “Caleb has been very blessed to have great coaches ... They’ve been positive role models.”

The two have helped Schillace develop an arsenal of pitches, including a curveball and a changeup. His best pitch — his fastball — has been clocked in the 90-91 mph range.

Jaci said she has no intention of playing catch with her son anymore.

courtesy of Paul Barney

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