Finally Signed

Cheyne Bickel has drawn a lot of interest from college coaches as he's traveled the country pitching his way through his high school years. But long ago he picked Ole Miss as his choice beyond high school, and he signed with the Rebels last month.

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It was more than two years ago that Bickel committed to the Rebel baseball program as one of the rising star pitchers in south Florida. Now that he's officially an Ole Miss baseball player, he's ready to roll from here.

"It felt really good to be able to sign," said Bickel, a 6-foot-2, 215-pound right-hander from Jupiter, Fla. "I won't have to stress out about it anymore. I can just be what I want to be."

Not that stress has been a real problem for him. He never wavered in his commitment to Ole Miss. It's where he wanted to be two years ago and where he wants to be next fall.

"I got other letters and emails, but I never replied because I was already set on where I wanted to go," he said.

A connection to the Mid-South helped with his decision. He pitched for Dulin's Dodgers of Memphis, Tenn., for a few years. He was in the Mid-South quite a bit during his high school years, and he learned about the place he has chosen for college.

"I was pitching on the west coast of Florida," Bickel said, looking back several years. "They (the Dulin staff) talked to me after one of the games and wanted to know if I would be interested in pitching for them. I've played with Dulin's for a few years."

It was a decision that changed his life and forged friendships for life. Dalton Dulin, son of Dulin's Sports Complex owner Tim Dulin, became a close friend. Both will play for Ole Miss. Dalton signed with the Rebels last month, too.

"We committed on the same day," said Bickel, who attends Dwyer High School in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.

That was back in November, 2010. He and Dalton Dulin became the Rebels' first commitments for the Class of 2013 that just signed. Both have remained solid with Ole Miss and have continued to express their excitement about playing for the Rebels.

And as he did two years ago, Bickel speaks of all the positives he found when he was being recruited by the Ole Miss program.

"When I came to Ole Miss for the first time, they made me feel like I was already part of the family and belonged and was wanted," Bickel said. "Other colleges didn't do that. I felt like I was just another player. When I went to Ole Miss, they actually made me feel like I was an actual Ole Miss baseball Rebel, and I was just a sophomore."

Cheyne Bickel
File Photo

Actually, a high school sophomore with three seasons left to play. Now it's down to one, and at the end of that season there is the definite possibility of him being drafted highly enough to have a chance to play professionally right away.

Bickel said first things first, however. He's signed with Ole Miss. He will play his senior season of high school. Then the draft will arrive in June, and he will see how things go.

"I haven't thought much about it yet," he said of the draft. "I'm just waiting to see what happens my senior year. I've got spring ball coming up, so that's my main focus. As it gets closer to the draft, then I'll start thinking about it."

Bickel said he's content with knowing his future is in baseball, and that's enough for now.

"As long as I get to play the game I love," he said. "Playing major league baseball wouldn't be bad, and going to Ole Miss isn't bad. I'd love to do both."

And that possibility remains now that he has taken the first step and signed with Ole Miss.

Bickel has some superlatives to his credit as far as his career goes. He's known as a pitcher who bounces back quickly from lengthy outings, and he wants the ball as often as he can get it.

In one game this summer with Dulin's in a tournament against a powerful East Cobb (Ga.) team, considered by some as the top team in the country, Bickel pitched a complete game on two days' rest, struck out 14, and walked one.

He has a fastball, a curve ball, and a changeup. His fastball is consistently 92-93 mph, topping at 93.

"I'm just working out," Bickel said of what he's doing currently since a busy spring, summer, and fall. "I start my throwing program in two weeks. I took eight weeks off after the fall. I've just been doing my workouts waiting."

Bickel is known for his work ethic and strong desire to improve.

"I've started doing even more workouts with my legs and my body," he said. "I'm trying to gain more weight, more muscle. Just trying to become more of a healthy pitcher and being able to last longer in innings and not get tired and just be able to go more innings. So all that's better and it's all helped."

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