An injury and a coaching change threw Lincoln Herendeen a curve his senior year at Marian Central.
Herendeen, a 2012 Marian graduate, had signed with NCAA Division II Illinois-Springfield to play baseball, but that school changed coaches. Then, Herendeen tore a ligament in his left wrist while sliding into home plate.
Uncertain about a coach who did not recruit him and about the injury, Herendeen stuck closer to home, decommitting and playing last season at McHenry County College. And by taking that different path, Herendeen will end up at a D-I school for his final two years.
Herendeen, a pitcher-infielder, has committed to New Mexico State in Las Cruces.
“I decided to stay home instead of going away,” Herendeen said. “I got a little older, a little bit stronger, and it definitely has paid off. I could not be more happy with my decision.”
Herendeen had such a strong season as a senior at Marian – a 3-0 record, 2.53 ERA, 34 strikeouts and 12 walks in 21 1/3 innings – that he was selected to the Northwest Herald All-Area first team despite missing the last month of the season. He also hit .446 with three home runs and 25 RBIs in 22 games.
Last season he was 6-3 with a 4.10 ERA in 52 1/3 innings for the Scots. He did not play as much in the field last season, but MCC coach Jared Wacker plans on using Herendeen at shortstop more this season.
“Not only is he physically gifted, he has one of the best motors of any kid I’ve coached,” Wacker said. “He’s at 100 percent effort all the time. He should play a big role on the mound and at shortstop for us.”
Herendeen is the fifth MCC sophomore to commit to a D-I or D-II school for next year. Although he was recruited as a pitcher, Herendeen hopes the Lobos might also use him as a position player.
“They told me there is a possibility of playing two ways there,” Herendeen said. “Because they like my swing and me playing infield. I like to pitch, and I like to hit. Whatever they want me to do, that’s what I’ll do. I kind of hope I can swing until they say, ‘No.’ ”
Herendeen takes hitting lessons from former Marian player Craig Strang, who was the Northwest Herald Player of the Year in 1991 and played at NAIA Bellevue, Neb. One of the coaches on Bellevue’s NAIA World Series champion team was Mike Evans, who now is the pitching coach at NMSU.
Through those coaching contacts, Strang helped Evans find Herendeen.
“I went down there and showed them what I could do,” Herendeen said. “I could not be more excited to make the commitment.”