Grand Island trio cherishes Husker baseball season ‘unlike anything else’

Local4 News at 10
Published: May. 30, 2023 at 10:37 PM CDT
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GRAND ISLAND, Neb. (KSNB) - Casey Burnham, Cole Evans and Shay Schanaman have been close since their youth.

“Those three kids are one of a kind and three of a kind,” said Joe Wells, former Grand Island baseball coach.

Before their college baseball reunion at Nebraska, the trio played together in high school at Grand Island Senior High.

“It’s pretty rare to have, from one high school, three guys,” Nebraska baseball coach Will Bolt said. “It says a lot about the coaches that are there. It says a lot about the community, those guys growing up and playing together.”

The group played just one high school baseball season together for the Islanders. Burnham ran track until his senior year and Evans was a grade behind the other two.

“Seeing them finish out there high school careers, it was kind of a bittersweet moment,” Evans said. “I was happy for them and they were going on their way, but it was bitter watch them go.”

It made their one-year reunion at Nebraska special in a familiar way.

“Especially with these two, I thought those were the last memories I was going to have with those guys,” Schanaman said. “When they came here, it was super cool. It brought me back to all those memories.”

“It was special, for sure, when that opportunity came about,” Evans added. “We were talking about it. It was kind of a no-brainer.”

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All three took different paths to the Huskers and Schanaman called his shot when he saw a chance to bring his best friends home.

“Shay really vouched for his boys,” Bolt said. “Not because they were his friends, but knowing that they would fit the culture of our program. Seeing how excited Shay, and the thought that Shay had, that he had a shot to play with those guys again, I could tell that he really enjoyed having them as teammates.”

The season ended earlier than anyone would’ve liked, but the former Islanders made sure to appreciate their moments together.

“Super fun and it goes so quick,” Schanaman said. “I wish we had many more years to play together.”

“When the ninth inning rolls around and it’s a close game, you kind of relish the moment when you’ve got one of your best friends in right field and your closer is one of your best friends on the mound,” Burnham added.

“Having Casey in the outfield when I’m out there, it’s unlike anything else,” Evans said. “We grew up together. He’s been my best friend for a long time.”

“Casey and Cole have hit back-to-back in the order several times and playing next to each other in the outfield, I’ve thought about that quite a bit,” Bolt added. “I know Shay has a lot of confidence in those guys, when he’s on the mound, that they’re going to go run a ball down for him.”

And even greater than their contributions on the field might be their impact off it.

“Those three have set a great example for the fact that you can play Big Ten baseball and be right here from down the road,” Wells said.

For all Islander baseball and Grand Island has done for them, they’ve given back.

“The place means a lot to me and I think the other two would say the same,” Evans said.

“Islander baseball meant something to them and it sure meant a lot to me that they still think of us back home,” Wells said.