MAHOMET –– Brooks Coetzee, Cory Noe and Austin Biehl formed a three-headed monster on the baseball diamond. The trio starred for the Mahomet Diamond Dogs. Wherever they went, they usually won. When they were 11, they led the Diamond Dogs to a fourth-place at the USSSA World Series in Kansas City, Mo.
Noe was a standout baseball player but he was an even better hooper. He just got done putting together a breakout sophomore season at Illinois Wesleyan. Coetzee and Biehl were the baseball stars. Coetzee is currently playing for Notre Dame. Biehl was a starting middle infielder for the Parkland Cobras.
Noe’s basketball season had finished just prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, but Coetzee and Biehl both had their baseball seasons canceled.
All that’s left is playing MLB The Show and Call of Duty against each other.
“It’s definitely cool to see because I’ve kept in touch with them a lot,” Biehl said. “I don’t know if I’m the best [at video games]. Brooks is pretty good.”
The cancellation of the season was especially tough for Biehl because he was finally hitting his stride. The sophomore opened the season in a terrible slump. He had just three hits in the first nine games, and his batting average had fallen to just .136.
But when the calendar flipped to March, Biehl absolutely erupted.
Biehl hit two doubles to help Parkland beat Muskegon Community College and that kicked off a monster 8-for-18 tear in the next five games. Biehl hit his first collegiate home run against Kankakee Community College and followed it up with another bomb in a win over Carl Sandburg College in the very next game.
“I started off in one of the worst slumps of my life, but I picked everything up and I was starting to do really well,” Biehl said. “Then all of the sudden the season was over.
Biehl went 2-for-5 in a win over Indian Hills on March 11. That’s the last time Biehl’s been able to set foot on a baseball diamond.
“We all kind of saw it coming,” Biehl said. “Junior College was one of the last to get canceled. The Division Is were the first ones. Then, all of a sudden, Junior College was done too. We all saw it coming, but it still sucked. We went from being at the field every day to not being allowed to be on campus.”
Major League Baseball announced that the 2020 MLB Draft will only have five rounds, so all college players will get the option to return to their schools next year. Biehl is planning to return to Parkland for a third year.
“I’ll be back, thankfully,” Biehl said. “It’s a really big move. With the bigger schools, the freshmen coming in and the seniors coming back and only five rounds in the draft, there wouldn’t have been many spots. It’d be tough to transfer to another school because they already have a huge team.”
Biehl is already looking forward to the 2021 season. He misses baseball. He misses the grind and his teammates.
But since he’s stuck at home, he’s found a way to connect with his life-long friends. Even if that means losing to Coetzee in MLB The Show.