Norwell High School senior Josh VanMeter narrowed his college choices to five quality baseball programs, but a trip to Illinois State felt like a perfect fit.
He committed Sunday to join the team, starting in 2013-14.
“I got on campus and something just clicked,” VanMeter said. “The program has been getting better every year and I think there's something special going on over there. The quality of the degree was important to me and the coaches and I just had a good relationship from the get-go.”
VanMeter chose Illinois State over Indiana State, Western Kentucky, Purdue and Coastal Carolina. Illinois State was 33-19 and fourth in the Missouri Valley Conference last season.
“It was a win-win situation where I picked to go,” he said. “There wasn't any losing in any of those schools.”
VanMeter was an all-state player for the Knights as a sophomore and was honorable mention all-state last season. He missed part of the 2012 season with a hip injury. He also mentioned his season got off to a slow start because of an extended run in basketball, where he helped the team to a Class 3A state runner-up finish.
Late in the season, he went on a strong hitting streak, and finished with a .500 batting average. He has been healthy and played well with his summer team, Summit City Sluggers, the last few months.
VanMeter primarily plays shortstop and pitcher for Norwell, but will concentrate on middle infield exclusively at Illinois State.
“Coming off basketball last spring, it was a long season and it took some time to get back into things,” he said. “I think I was pressuring myself a little bit with college and stuff at the beginning of the season. When I got hurt, it gave me a chance to think about everything and calm myself down.”
VanMeter will still play basketball this winter, hoping to lead the Knights as they adjust to the loss of four senior starters from a year ago.
In the spring, he'll be playing for a new baseball coach. Andy McClain takes over the Norwell program from two-time state champion coach Kelby Weybright, who stepped down after last season to spend more time with his family.
“It's going to be a change,” VanMeter said. “Coach Weybright, I had a great relationship with him, but with his family situation you can't really argue that. Coach McClain, I've had a chance to sit and talk with him, and talk on the phone. He's a great guy, very intense like Coach Weybright in that respect. He has high expectations for us, but I think they're deserved with what we have coming back. If we get our goals straight, we should be pretty good next spring.”