Another Fletcher joining Illini

A third generation of Fletcher baseball players is headed to the University of Illinois.

Casey Fletcher, whose father and grandfather both excelled in the sport for the Illini, said Monday night he has accepted an offer to join the UI program next season as a preferred walk-on.

“With the University of Illinois being so close to home and being in the family for so long, I just felt like it was the right move for me,” the former Oakwood High School standout said. “I’ve always wanted to go to the University of Illinois. I’m very excited. I’m very happy.”

Fletcher is wrapping up his second season at Kankakee Community College, where the sophomore currently leads all NJCAA Division II players in RBI with 67. An outfielder and bullpen closer for the Cavaliers, Fletcher earned third-team All-America honors in 2012.

His father, Darrin Fletcher, played for the Illini from 1985 to ’87, when he set school records for career batting average (.392) and single-season batting average (.497) that still stand. The 1987 first-team All-America catcher went on a 14-year major league career that concluded in 2002.

Tom Fletcher, Casey’s grandfather, was an All-Big Ten first-team pitcher in 1962 who tied for the Illini lead that season in wins with seven. Tom’s career was cut short by injury, but not before he also reached the majors in 1962 with the Detroit Tigers.

Now, Casey will follow in his father’s and grandfather’s college footsteps.

“I’m excited,” Darrin Fletcher. “For Casey to go to a great university like Illinois and play Big Ten baseball, it’s a dad’s dream come true. I couldn’t think of a better spot for him.

“It’s no secret about Illinois and our family. ... It’s a neat thing, a special thing. I’m proud of him.”

With or without a scholarship, Casey Fletcher said the opportunity to play for the Illini was what mattered most.

“It really doesn’t matter to me,” he said. “I’m very grateful that I’ve played well enough to come out and compete for a spot in the outfield next year for the Fighting Illini.

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