SHELBY, N.C. — Danville Post 210 manager Allan Shepherd didn't really know what he was going to do with Chase Rademacher when the season started.
"I just knew that I wanted his bat in our lineup,'' Shepherd said.
After a little experimenting early in the year, Shepherd knew that he need the Bismarck-Henning/Rossville-Alvin graduate in the 3-hole for the Speakers.
But as the season has progressed, not only has Rademacher been a key producer in the middle of the lineup, batting .400 with 15 extra-base hits and 35 RBIs, but surprisingly, the right-hander has been the man on the mound when Post 210 won both the Illinois State title and the Great Lakes Regional crown.
"I would have never guessed that Chase Rademacher would close out both of those championships in the same season,'' Shepherd said. "Rademacher has just elevated his game this summer and whoever get him in college is getting a steal.''
Well, earlier this week, after an impressive performance in the Great Lakes Regionals on the campus of Eastern Illinois University, Rademacher got an offer from EIU coach Jason Anderson to play for the Panthers.
Rademacher officially committed to Eastern Illinois on Tuesday.
"I thought it was a better opportunity for me,'' said Rademacher, who was planning to walk-on at Kankakee Community College. "I feel there is better coaching and better competition at that level to get me where I want to be as a player.''
Talk about an abrupt change.
"I'm still pretty surprised,'' Rademacher said. "We are a week away from school starting and I really didn't know where I was going to be attending classes. It was pretty nerve-wracking, but I always knew that I wanted to be at the NCAA Division I level.
"When I talked with coach (Jason) Anderson at Eastern, he was just a really great guy and a great coach. He is also from Danville, so I knew I could trust him.''
Actually Rademacher's full story is really quite amazing.
In his first two years of playing baseball for Bismarck-Henning/Rossville-Alvin, Rademacher just played defense as the Blue Devils used their designated hitter to bat for Rademacher in the games.
"I would just play defense,'' he said. "I think having someone hit for me, made me want it more and work harder.
"I realized there was no other way for me to get better than getting into the weight room and just working at it.''
It was between his sophomore and junior seasons that Rademacher made his first big improvement, but that was just a stepping stone to his success this past season.
In his senior season, Rademacher was one of the top players in the Vermilion Valley Conference, garnering votes for the Commercial-News Player of the Year.
But, it was this summer, playing alongside of players like Ernest Plummer and Chase Vinson, when Rademacher's game took off to a new level.
"There is a saying that good players become great players when they are around other great players,'' Shepherd said. "Chase is a really smart kid and things just started to click for him this summer.''
"I think I've taken a step up because my teammates have been setting me up for success,'' he said. "I'm still maturing physically and things are starting to come more naturally for me.''
And did he expect that when the summer started?
"I didn't really think I would play that much,'' said Rademacher. "Obviously, things turned out better than I expected.''
Baseball wasn't even Rademacher's first love growing up.
"Early on, basketball was my main sport,'' he said.
How could that happen when his father, Brent Rademacher, was a long-time baseball coach at Bismarck-Henning?
"My dad never pushed me toward any sport,'' Chase said. "He just supported me with anything that I did, but when I got to high school, that's when I started focusing more on baseball.''
Actually, baseball isn't the only thing that Rademacher has discovered in the last year.
When the school year officially starts for the Bismarck-Henning/Rossville-Alvin graduate, he plans to major in accounting at Eastern Illinois.
"My mom (Carrie Rademacher) wanted me to take an accounting class in my final year of high school,'' Chase said. "I really enjoyed it and now I want to major in it.''
Good things come to those who wait and Rademacher is living proof.