Illini baseball signs Marine

Illini baseball signs Marine

CHAMPAIGN — Josh Harris will arrive at Illinois with just one season of junior college baseball experience. But likely more world experience than many of his future teammates.

Illinois announced Thursday that Harris, a 24-year-old from Beecher, signed with the Illini baseball program on Wednesday after pitching this past spring at Kankakee Community College.

Prior to his time with KCC, however, Harris spent four years in the Marine Corps from 2011 to 2015, enlisting at the age of 17 with the help of his mother, Karyn, who signed with Harris' recruiter.

Harris was deployed overseas twice as a Marine, and following his time with the 1st Battalion, 5th Marines, spent five months working with the military police before being discharged to help prepare him for a future law enforcement career. He was honorably discharged in October 2015.

Harris appeared in 19 games this past season for KCC, compiling a 2-1 record with a 3.72 earned run average and eight saves. The left-handed reliever struck out 34 and only walked four in 19 1 / 3 innings pitched.

"I'm excited to bring in a student-athlete with a great deal of maturity and that can help our bullpen," Illinois coach Dan Hartleb said. "I have a tremendous amount of respect for Josh because he served in the Marines and is now continuing his education. He is going to help our clubhouse and help us on the field."

Harris plans to major in communications or sociology and has three seasons of eligibility.