Brandon Krennrich became a Kentucky baseball fan when members of the Wildcats’ coaching staff saw him two years ago at the Racine Hitters Fall Experience camp.
The Johnsburg sophomore became an even bigger fan when former Skyhawk Jerad Grundy, a left-handed pitcher, helped Kentucky to its best season ever last spring and into the NCAA tournament.
Krennrich liked Kentucky even more after talking to Grundy and fellow lefty pitcher Sam Mahar about the coaches and the program. The was a mutual admiration from the side of Wildcats coach Gary Henderson and his staff after seeing the Skyhawks catcher in action behind and at the plate.
So before Krennrich and his father Todd left Lexington last week on their visit to Kentucky, he told Henderson he wanted to attend the Southeastern Conference school. Krennrich, who hit .380 and drove in 23 runs for Johnsburg last season, will not sign his NCAA national letter of intent for two more years. Krennrich made only two errors and threw out 18 of 23 base stealers.
“I really got to know the coaches well,” Krennrich said. “Jerad and his family were a lot of help. He and Sam told me the coaches were the same when their families weren’t there as when they were. It’s very nice to have someone in the program like that.”
Grundy, a 27th-round pick by Minnesota in Baseball’s Amateur Draft in June, decided to return to Kentucky this season for his senior year.
Krennrich (6-foot, 185 pounds) was the Skyhawks' starting catcher last season and a Northwest Herald All-Area second-team selection. In the summer, he plays with Elite Baseball Training, which is based out of Chicago and coached by Justin Stone.
“[Former Johnsburg] coach [Dann] Geisey helped me a lot. He would talk to them,” Krennrich said. “And Justin Stone got me in front of [the Kentucky coaches] a lot too. He invited them out to Elite Baseball’s college day.”
Krennrich was invited to represent the Great Lakes Regional team in the National Team Identification Series Showcase in Cary, N.C. in September. He is excited about the chance to play in the SEC, which is one of the best conferences in the nation.
“In junior high I started getting invitations to play for USA teams and with top programs,” Krennrich said. “I thought then if I could play travel ball with some of the best in the country, why couldn’t I do that in college.”
Johnsburg head coach Sam Lesniak, who worked as a Skyhawks assistant last year, feels Kentucky is a perfect fit for Krennrich.
“His baseball ability is lights-out,” Lesniak said. “He has an incredible arm, he’s a great team player and the kids respected him right away, even as a freshman. He’s hungry for more and he wants to continue working hard to get better. That kind of attitude is something that can’t really be taught.”
Visits on hold: Marengo senior Katie Adams’ popularity continues to grow with college cross country and track coaches, although a few weeks ago she decided against any more visits during the season.
“I made a visit to Iowa, but I decided doing it now disrupted my routine,” Adams said. “No more visits until after the season.”
Adams will be a favorite in the IHSA Cross Country State Meet girls Class 2A race Saturday at Peoria’s Detweiller Park. After this weekend, she wants to make visits to Minnesota and Missouri. She could take two more official visits after that.
• Joe Stevenson is a senior sports writer for the Northwest Herald. He can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. You also can follow him on Twitter @nwh_JoePrepZone.