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‘Birds Pacella Named Best in the Nation Only Weeks into Freshman Baseball Season

Written by on March 7, 2023

Image courtesy of Illinois State Athletics

NORMAL, Ill – Going into the season there were a lot of questions about who would be one of the go-to guys on offense for the Illinois State baseball team. So far, it has been a freshman who has taken over that mantle as the leader on offense for ISU.

This past week freshman, Daniel Pacella was named National Player of the Week by Collegiate Baseball News. Pacella was one of 13 players across college baseball to be honored as well as the only player in the Missouri Valley Conference. Throughout this week, Pacella hit four home runs to go along with a .300 average and 8 RBIs.

Pacella’s week came with a handful of mammoth home runs. He started off his week on Wednesday against Arkansas where he hit a 109 mph rocket over the right field wall. On Saturday, Pacella hit a go-ahead two-run shot during the 8th inning in a Redbird win. Then on Sunday, Pacella hit two home runs; one of them being a grand slam in the first inning.

Pacella is only the second player to receive this honor in ISU baseball history. The only other player was Ryan Cermak back in April of last year. Pacella talked about what it meant it meant to be in the record books for ISU baseball.

“It’s surreal and I haven’t even digested it all yet,” said Pacella. “There’s nothing I can really say about it, I can’t even put my feelings into words.”

Pacella built an impressive career prior to ISU. He went to Mundelein High School where he had multiple IHSA state playoff runs as well as racking up multiple accolades. For travel baseball, he won countless awards across the tournaments he played in the summer which helped him become one of the more highly touted prospects in Illinois.

It is really tough to make the jump from high school play to college, but Pacella has seemingly handled that change with ease. On the season, Pacella is batting .304 with six home runs and 15 RBIs. Pacella talked more about his approach and making the jump to the next level.

“The most important thing transitioning to college is to put the ball in play,” said Pacella. “I just want to keep my foot on the ground and be as simple with my swing as possible.”

Most of all Pacella is lucky to have a support system in his corner. With his week full of accomplishments family and friends have continued to cheer him on.

“The support is crazy, it’s been surreal that all this has been happening so fast,” said Pacella. “Through family and friends, my support system is awesome.

ISU currently sits at 5-6 on the season. They will travel to Nebraska for a three-game series with the Cornhuskers starting at 4:05 pm on Friday.