Ryan Ignoffo was thrilled when he received a call from Eastern Illinois University assistant baseball coach Blake Beemer last summer.
The Cary-Grove senior was sold once he visited the campus in Charleston and met coach Jason Anderson’s staff and some of the Panthers’ players.
“I just felt like that’s where I wanted to be the next four years,” said Ignoffo, a Northwest Herald All-Area first-team selection as an outfielder. “The atmosphere was great. Coach Beemer and (assistant) coach Julio (Godinez) would come to my high school or to my travel games (with Illinois Phenoms). They came out a lot to see me, that was nice.”
Ignoffo, whom the Panthers plan to use as a position player and pitcher, will sign his National Letter of Intent this week with EIU. The signing period for sports other than football, soccer and water polo, started Wednesday and runs eight days. Ignoffo plans to sign Thursday night.
Most of the attention Ignoffo had received was from smaller schools. He had visited NCAA Division III North Central College and NAIA Judson University. Ignoffo hit .405 with 33 RBIs, fifth among area players, while leading off for the Trojans last spring. He also was 5-1 as a pitcher.
“Since I was a little kid, I felt like baseball was the place for me,” Ignoffo said. “I played football until freshman year. I found myself liking baseball practice a little better than football practice. I love hitting. I would love to hit in college, but I told the coaches if you need another pitcher, I got you guys.”
Most D-I baseball players either play a position or pitch, although some do both, as the Panthers might do with Ignoffo. He had 45 hits, scored 31 runs, notched an on-base percentage of .456 and struck out only seven times in 125 plate appearances.
Ignoffo offers Eastern versatility with where he plays in the field.
“They’re looking at me for two-way,” Ignoffo said. “If I’m two-way, second base is probably my best bet, it could give my arm a break.”
Teammates signing: Richmond-Burton pitcher Jake Rosing, Crystal Lake Central outfielder Camden Nisenson and Huntley pitcher Nick Laxner all will be signing this week with D-I schools. Those three played together with travel club Top Tier-Hoffmann last summer.
Rosing missed the high school season with an injury, but was one of the area’s best pitchers as a freshman and sophomore. He committed to Louisville as a sophomore and will sign with the Cardinals. Rosing will join a Louisville staff that has 2017 McHenry graduate Bobby Miller on it. Miller was the Northwest Herald Player of the Year.
Nisenson, a varsity player since his sophomore year, will sign with Indiana-Purdue-Fort Wayne.
Laxner was part of the Huntley staff that helped the Red Raiders win the Fox Valley Conference, and will sign with Miami (Ohio).
More teammates: The signing period is a big time for some of the area’s top girls basketball players. McHenry’s Aannah Interrante (Bradley) and Marian Central’s Vannessa Garrelts (Miami, Ohio) signed with D-I schools, while McHenry’s Liz Alsot and Cary-Grove’s Katie Sowa will stay together at D-II University of Indianapolis.