Baseball: Bunnell verbally commits to Division I Kansas State

By: 
Anthony Iozzo

Senior Cade Bunnell made a verbal commitment to play Division I baseball for Kansas State University on June 2, a commitment he intends to make official on signing day. Bunnell, a shortstop for the high school varsity team, will be a middle infielder at Kansas State. [File photos by Anthony Iozzo]

Bunnell has played many positions for the GRB Academy summer traveling team and for the high school varsity team, but he decided to focus on playing the infield this past season and gave up pitching.

Ever since Stoughton senior Cade Bunnell began playing baseball, he dreamed about making it to the MLB.

From summer ball to playing for the varsity high school team, Bunnell not only made a name for himself locally but also around the baseball community, and that caused several Division 1 colleges to take notice.

Bunnell, after looking over several options, started the path to a potential baseball career on June 2 by verbally committing to Division I Kansas State University, which plays in the Big 12.

“It is pretty unbelievable to grow up watching those big-time schools and being like, ‘Wow, these schools are unbelievable,’” said Bunnell, who is the first Viking to sign with a D1 school since BJ Schumacher eight-plus years ago. “Now saying that I will play against those teams with Kansas State is great.

“To play in the College World Series would be unbelievable.”

Choices to make

Several colleges and universities approached Bunnell, including the University of Minnesota, the University of Iowa, the University of Michigan, the University of West Virginia and Xavier University, but he chose Kansas State after talking to the coaches and checking out the campus.

For Bunnell, the success of the program and the fact it is in the Big 12 – which includes Texas, Oklahoma State, Texas Christian, Kansas, Baylor and Texas Tech – were big factors when it came to choosing his future destination.

It also helped that a coach from Kansas State grew up near Stoughton and was able to meet with Bunnell.

“A lot of it was coaching,” Bunnell said. “When I went on my visit, all the coaches seemed like really good guys. Quite a bit of it was the facilities, and that the campus really felt like home.”

Although Bunnell still has to sign a National Letter of Intent to make his commitment official, he said he is 100 percent sure he will be attending Kansas State.

There is also a “pretty good” chance that Bunnell will start as a freshman.

Choosing a position

Bunnell played several positions for the GRB Academy in his summer travel league and for the varsity high school team, but it was when he began gauging the competition in the summer league that helped him choose the middle infield.

Bunnell pitched as a sophomore and was a starter on the varsity team, but he decided to give up pitching his junior year and focus on hitting and fielding.

“Playing in summer ball – playing against the pitchers at that level – I knew that there was no way I could pitch at the Division I level,” Bunnell said. “To me, hitting and fielding – I like it too much to give up to pitch at the next level, and I am better off playing infield in college.”

He played first, second, third and shortstop for the GRB Academy and was a shortstop for the high school. And it was Bunnell’s fielding that summer league head coach Greg Reinhard first noticed.

“He obviously fits their team as a very polished middle infielder,” Reinhard said. “Especially from Wisconsin and Midwest area, he fields way above average, and from the left side, his hands really work well in terms of hitting.

“He has a chance to do some really great things at (Kansas State).” 

Bunnell added that he didn’t want to miss out on hitting as a pitcher, either.

Senior goals

Now that Bunnell knows he will be playing Division I baseball, he said it relieves stress and pressure for his final year at Stoughton High School.

He said he can now focus on helping the team get back to state and will try to work on not only honing his baseball skills but to also become stronger and faster.

“I leave for college a week after graduation, so it is nice to have that taken care of,” Bunnell said. “It is also nice to have all my focus on making the state tournament and hopefully winning the state tournament.

“I am going to hit all the time and take ground balls, but the main thing I will work on is to become stronger and faster because if you are slow at the Division I level, it is not a good thing.”