Life can change overnight.
Just ask McPherson High graduate Marcus McDaniel.
The Bullpup All-State third baseman was all set to walk on to the Butler County baseball team this fall as no other schools made offers that appealed to him.
Just before the recent Kansas Baseball Coaches Association All-Star Game, however, he got a call from Neosho County’s coaching staff that they would be in attendance.
After a strong performance in the Manhattan game that featured the best of the best, McDaniel was offered by the Panthers, who are coming off a sterling 51-11 season that included the Jayhawk Conference’s East Division title at 28-8.
“They actually called me the night before and said they would be there watching,” McDaniel said. “Then I talked to them after the game and we set up a date (for a visit) and it all happened in about a week.”
McDaniel certainly had the stats to draw the Panthers’ attention. He was first-team Class 4A Division I All-State as a third baseman after hitting .379 with six doubles and a triple among his 25 hits, while driving in 11 runs. He also showed a good eye by drawing 16 walks in his leadoff position.
McDaniel also did some pitching, going 2-0 with two saves in as many opportunities, though he said at Neosho he would be concentrating on third base.
The Panthers have a desperate need for a third baseman as All-American Brylie Ware, who played his high school baseball at Sedgwick, has signed with Oklahoma after he became the first player in the NJCAA to win the Triple Crown since 1985.
“I hope he goes and competes right away. It’s a great opportunity for him,” MHS coach Heath Gerstner said. “Through talks with their coaches, they’re looking for a kid with Marcus’ mentality. He’s still developing as a third baseman. He has all the tools. I know he’s got some big goals. I couldn’t think of a better fit for him.”
McDaniel has had back-to-back tremendous summers for the McPherson American Legion Post 24 program, propelling the team to the Class A state championship in 2014 and then last year, in Class AAA, the team was one victory away from the state title.
In addition to his baseball prowess, McDaniel played on a pair of state championship basketball teams as well as this year’s team that took second in the state. He earned AVCTL honors and was renowned for his 3-point shooting.
“The two state championships in basketball and making it to state in baseball (his junior year) were definitely the highlights,” McDaniel said when reflecting on his Bullpup athletic career.
McDaniel is off to a great start this summer for Post 24 as the team has won its first six games, including a sweep Thursday of longtime rival Salina.