PAOLA — Panther senior Caden Marcum has one less thing to worry about this spring.
Marcum, three-time letter-winner for the Paola baseball team, can just focus on pitching this season. He signed a national letter of intent Wednesday, Nov. 10, in front of family and friends to play for the University of Tennessee Volunteers.
“I really like the coaching staff at Tennessee, and they have great facilities there,” Marcum said. “I am excited for the opportunity to compete with the Volunteers in the SEC.
“Signing this early really takes a lot of pressure off of me,” he said. “I don’t have to worry about where I am going to be. I can just focus on playing baseball and enjoy my senior season.”
Caden was joined at the signing by his parents Chris and Cadi Marcum and siblings Jace Trumbly and Taryn Marcum.
Marcum is a two-time Tri-County Spotlight Player of the Year.
Marcum had a .400 batting average with nine doubles and three triples. He drove in 24 runs and scored 29 runs.
He was 4-0 with a 3.06 earned run average. Marcum fanned 53 hitters in 29.2 innings pitched.
He is a contact hitter with the ability to drive the ball to all parts of the field at the plate and a hard thrower on the mound.
His most valuable asset was his approach to the game. Marcum never took a pitch off. He was always ready for a chance to break a game open, turn in a diving catch or put up another strikeout to put out a fire.
“This is a huge accomplishment for Caden,” Paola baseball coach Tony Brummer said. “I cannot be more proud and excited for him and his parents. Tennessee is getting a good one. I for one cannot wait to see him play in the SEC.
“Caden has put in a bunch of time and effort since he was a little guy to get to this point in his career,” Brummer said. “It is great to see him get the chance to compete at the college level, but with the sacrifices he and his family have made, it is not a surprise. Caden will have many people in this area rooting for him.”
Marcum was a first-team Spotlight selection at outfield and pitcher.
He was named the Class 4A offensive player of the year and was a first-team All-Class 4A selection at outfield and pitcher.
Marcum helped lead the Paola Panthers to third place in the Class 4A state baseball tournament in Salina.
He pitched five innings on an injured ankle in the state semifinal game against Bishop Miege, giving Paola a chance to win it. The Panthers placed third in the state.
Marcum’s athletic talent is only half the story, Brummer said.
“He plays hard, supports his teammates and competes,” Brummer said. “His performance on that injured ankle at state in the semifinals was one of the most impressive displays as a competitor I have ever seen.
“When he was a freshman, he showed his ability to hit and play in the field and that he belonged on the varsity level,” Brummer said. “He continues to impress at the plate, in the field and on the mound. He will make the same impression in Knoxville.”
Marcum was one of 40 high school players from across the United States and Canada selected for the Baseball Factory All-America Game held at Kauffman Stadium on Saturday, Sept. 25.
He was one of just two players from Kansas in the game. Marcum pitched one inning for the Americans in the American versus the National all-star game.
Marcum was on the same mound the Kansas City Royals celebrated a 2014 Wild Card victory and 2015 World Series victory.