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Monday, May 2, 2016

UNI program ends, Ege picks Texas school

Monday, June 1, 2009

Former Cherokee baseball all-stater Cory Ege checks his swing during tournament action his senior year for the Braves. Ege helped guide the Braves to the State 2A Championship in 2007. File photo by Paul Struck.
After winning the 2007 Iowa Class 2A baseball title, Cory Ege of Cherokee was enthused to go off to the University of Northern Iowa for his post-high school baseball career.

However, now that playing for the Panthers is no longer an option, Ege has picked his next school, the University of Texas A&M-Corpus Christi. Due to financial constraints in the athletic department, UNI's program was ended at the conclusion of the year. That was disconcerting to Ege, but he's now happy to have a new college to play for.

The Islanders play in the Southland Conference and will play powerful nonconference foes in UCLA, Texas and Nebraska. That was part of the allure for Ege, who also cited the sound coaching by former MLB draftee Scott Malone and the fact that a lot of seniors departed the Islanders team after 2009.

"They told me I could be the guy at short(stop)," Ege said.

He earned two letters at UNI, as a starting second baseman as a freshman in 2008, then as the starting shortstop this year. Ege said the UNI team was jelling well, but after the initial road trip, athletic director Troy Dannen announced the program would end at the end of the year.

"It was really shocking," Ege said.

The players and Coach Rick Heller attempted a fundraiser to keep the baseball program, but those efforts weren't enough to save the team. It was hard to say goodbyes at the end of the season, but Ege said the reality is that many of the players on the team that finished 23-26 are off to new locales.

The 6-3 Ege ended his season going 2-for-3 and scoring the tying run in the eighth inning in a 3-2 victory over Bradley.

There were three Northwest Iowa players on the UNI team. Deric Manrique of North High School was a four-year starting outfielder, while Andy Steichen from Remsen St. Mary's was a sophomore on the team. Manrique was one of the leading outfielders in the Missouri Valley Conference who's career is now ended, while Ege said his understanding is that Steichen will stay at UNI and not transfer to play baseball. Steichen's brother Austin will return to the 2009 Panther football team as a senior starting lineman.

Former first-team all-stater Ege said he was looking optimistically at the new start in his baseball career. He said the only downside at the University of Texas A&M-Corpus Christi is the long distance he will be from two younger brothers (Cody and Curtis) playing baseball and his parents John Ege and Barb Messerole, both of Cherokee.

"It is good competition, for sure, when you get down there in those southern states," Ege said.

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