01/09/2018 6:35 PM -
Whiting, Ind. – Jan. 9, 2018 – After turning heads during a 10-game stint with the Northwest Indiana Oilmen during the 2017 season, UIC freshman Tommy Farrell will be back for a larger sample size in 2018.
Following a late report to the team due to the completion of his senior season of high school ball at St. Laurence, Farrell was an MCL standout for two weeks in the second half of June, hitting .375 and driving in 10 runs in 10 games. After getting off to a slow start (1-for-11 in first three games), Farrell had multiple hits in six of his final seven contests before being shut down for the remainder of the summer due to an injury.
The stint has Farrell amped to rejoin the Oilmen after the completion of his first collegiate season with the Flames.
“I really enjoyed playing for Coach Enright,” Farrell said. “I showed up the first day and thought I’d be uncomfortable with a group of players who I didn’t know, but it didn’t take long until I felt comfortable playing with everyone. It was fun to show up to the ballpark and play every day, and I look forward to doing that for the full summer this time.”
Farrell was a four-year letter winner at St. Laurence (also the alma mater of former Oilmen Jay Gutierrez, Brad Wood and Kyle Wood), helping the Vikings to back-to-back sectional championships and a third-place finish in the 2017 IHSA State Tournament. He was an all-area first-team selection and all-state honorable mention as a senior and struck out only nine times all season.
“What stands out to me about Tommy is his overall athleticism and his ability to get on base,” St. Laurence coach Pete Lotus said. “He is a skilled hitter and got on base a lot for us, which was significant as our leadoff hitter. He is an extremely hard-working player who always wants to get better and knows how to make himself better.”
Lotus played for UIC in 1999 as a member of UIC head coach Mike Dee’s first Flames team. Farrell has joined a UIC program that went 39-17, finished 22-8 in league play, won the Horizon League regular season and tournament titles and reached the NCAA Regional a year ago.
“I think UIC is a great fit for him,” Lotus said. “As someone who played at UIC, I know that a type of player like Tommy is really going to fit. They look for tough players who are extremely unselfish and talented. He’s going to accomplish good things there – I expect him to do well. They’re excited about having him and Tommy is very excited about being there.”
Farrell had numerous key hits in the postseason and batted .402 with 30 RBIs, 39 runs scored and 24 stolen bases as a senior in 2017.
“One of the strengths of my game is that I have quality speed and good instincts on the field,” he said. “I’m a big contact hitter. I don’t strike out often. I’m working on improving my defensive game, especially in the outfield since I’ve played mostly first base in the past.”
Among the highlights of Farrell’s prep career came in the sectional championship his senior season, when Brother Rice and St. Laurence faced off for the sectional title for the second consecutive year. The Vikings walked off for a 2-1 victory in the bottom of the seventh. St. Laurence went on to advance to state for the first time since 1993.
“Tommy had multiple above average seasons for us,” Lotus said. “He came through in several key moments as a senior in the state playoffs. During his sophomore season, he was our best hitter. He was second all-time for hits in a single season. To do that as a sophomore was special.”
Farrell, whose father Brian played collegiately at Lewis University, is majoring in nursing at UIC. He has made a seamless transition to the collegiate ranks, getting his first taste of college-level ball last summer with the Oilmen before competing in fall ball at UIC.
“The college game is a lot faster,” he said. “You’re used to being the best player on your high school team and then you show up to college, especially at a place like UIC, and everybody is good. Everybody throws hard. I’m getting the hang of it and adjusting quite well.”