CLARKSVILLE, Tenn. - Facing the loss of 11 seniors, including four pitchers, following the upcoming 2010 campaign, Austin Peay State University head baseball coach Gary McClure and his coaching staff had plenty of work to do on the recruiting trail. That work paid off, Wednesday, as nine players signed a letter of intent on the first day of the signing period.
The Govs signed eight high school seniors and one junior college sophomore to letters of intent. The nine players hail from seven different states: Tennessee, Colorado, Florida, Mississippi, Missouri, New Jersey and New York. Four pitchers, including three left-handed hurlers, are included in the count along with two catchers and three fielders.
"Each year's recruiting class is extremely important if you are going to consistently compete for championships at any level," said McClure. "To that point, we believe our 2010 class looms large in our program's ability to be successful on the regional and national level. For Austin Peay to continue to compete for championships and have the kind of success we want in both the OVC and in the NCAA tournament over the next few years, this class needed to be full of talent and depth."
Following the 2010 season the Govs will see 11 players depart due to graduation, including four pitchers. The Govs will lose pitchers Zach Gerler, Stephen Huff, Ricky Marshall and David Vicini. In addition, the team's two most experienced catchers - Trey Lucas and Josh Purcell, who combined to catch 48 of the Govs 52 games last season -will depart the program.
"I am very excited about this group's talent and believe it could be the strongest signing class in my twenty-plus years at Austin Peay," McClure said. "With the loss of four of our most experienced and talented arms on the pitching staff, we had many needs, including attempting to replace 11 seniors overall. We set a goal to sign ten to twelve players with the desire for this class of incoming freshman to be a top 25-rated recruiting class. Our staff has worked extremely hard to prepare for this event. Under the direction of Joel Mangrum, our new recruiting coordinator/pitching coach, and assistant coach Jake Peterson, I believe we are very close to doing that."
2011 Austin Peay Baseball Incoming Class
- Mason Caldwell, 6-0, 190-pound, left-handed pitcher, Bartlett, Tenn. (Bartlett HS)
- Rolando Gautier, 6-2, 185-pound, left-handed pitcher/outfielder, Pennsauken, N.J. (Pennsauken HS)
- Chris Gili, 6-0, 160-pound, infielder, Manorville, N.Y. (Eastport-South Manor HS)
- Jordan Hankins, 6-0, 185-pound, infielder/outfielder, O'Fallon, Mo. (Fort Zumwalt North HS)
- Hunter Smith, 6-1, 180-pound, outfielder, Humboldt, Tenn. (University School of Jackson)
- Zach Toney, 6-3, 220-pound, left-handed pitcher, D'Iberville, Miss. (Jones County JC)
- Peter Torres, 5-11, 185-pound, catcher, Miami, Fla. (Coral Park Senior HS)
- A.J. Walkenhorst, 6-1, 165-pound, right-handed pitcher, St. Peters, Mo. (Fort Zumwalt South HS)
- Matt Wollenzin, 6-1, 195-pound, catcher, Lakewood, Colo. (Green Mountain HS)
(biographical sketches and head coach Gary McClure's quotes on each signee follow)
- AP -
Individual Biographical Sketches and head coach Gary McClure's comments
6-0, 190, LHP, Bartlett, Tenn. (Bartlett HS)
Career Notes: Under head coach Phil Clark, compiled a 4-2 record and 2.76 ERA as a junior... recorded 44 strikeouts in 43 innings... led the Panthers to a third-place state finish and was ranked ninth in final Tennessee Baseball Report Top 10 (all classifications)... made two relief appearances in 2009 Class AAA state tournament, finishing 1-1 with nine strikeouts in eight innings, surrendering just three hits... at the plate finished junior season batting .307 with 27 RBI and 10 doubles... selected to Tennessee Baseball Coaches Association's Region 7/8 Team... selected to District 14-AAA all-district squad as a junior.
McClure Comments: "We believe Mason will come in and compete for an important role on our pitching staff and team as freshman. He has a bright future at Austin Peay and we look forward to his development and progression as a pitcher. Next year will be Mason's first year not playing a position and pitching and we know that he is going to be able to contribute right away."
6-2, 185, LHP/OF, Pennsauken, N.J. (Pennsauken HS)
Career Notes: Under head coach Pete Nardello, was a left-handed pitcher and played outfield... at the plate, batted .500 with 11 doubles and three home runs... on the mound was 2-0 with a 1.29 ERA... second team All-South Jersey selection... first-team all-conference... selected to play on 2009 East Coast Professional Showcase... was one of three incoming APSU players (Chris Gili and P.J. Torres the others) who played with the South Florida Bandits.
McClure Comments: "Rolando has very good control and great mound presence, things we look for in high school pitchers. He also has a great upside because of the looseness of his arm and his body type. I believe he has the chance to play a major role on both our pitching staff and as a position player as a true freshman. He is a very mature young man who I believe can handle both the physical and mental adjustments necessary to be successful immediately at the Division I level, and I have no doubt that the tools are in place to do so."
6-3, 220, LHP, D'Iberville, Miss. (Jones County JC)
Career Notes: Under head coach Christian Ostrander, led the Bobcats with a 10-1 record and 2.67 ERA... made 19 appearances, including 13 starts, throwing 77.2 innings... threw four complete games and also recorded a save... allowed just 72 hits, struck out a team-best 85 batters... was a first-team All- Mississippi Association of Community & Junior Colleges selection and led team to school-best 33-16 mark... prepped at D'Iberville High School.
McClure Comments: "Zach is a gamer. He wants the ball when the game is on the line. We feel Zach is going to play a big part in the future success of this program. He's a blue-collar kid that has worked for everything he has achieved. Toney will command a fastball that will sit in the upper 80's and will touch a lot of low 90s, a sharp two-plane slider that has gotten better every time out this fall, and a change-up that he can throw in any count."
6-1, 195, RHP, St. Peters, Mo. (Fort Zumwalt South HS)
Career Notes: Under head coach Keith DeShurley, compiled an 8-2 record and 1.41 ERA as a junior... in 69.2 innings pitched, struck out 68 batters and walked just 19... tossed shutout in district championship game... threw complete game, allowed one unearned run and struck out seven in state semifinal contest as team won Class 4 MSHSAA Championship... was a second-team All St. Louis Metro selection and a third-team all-state selection... was a one of two incoming players (Jordan Hankins the other) to play on St. Louis Pirates summer travel team run by former Govs standout Rick Strickland.
McClure Comments: "I have seen A.J. pitch a lot and he has the ability to make a major difference in our starting rotation right away as a freshman. He is a competitor who comes right at you with everything he has and refuses to lose any battle. A.J. already understands what it takes to be successful on the mound."
5-11, 185, C, Miami, Fla. (Miami Coral Park Senior HS)
Career Notes: Under head coach Tony Casa, batted .363 with five home runs and 17 RBI as a junior... caught every game as a sophomore and junior... was an honorable mention All- Dade selection by the Miami Herald as a junior... was one of three incoming APSU players (Chris Gili and P.J. Torres the others) who played with the South Florida Bandits.
McClure Comments: "P.J. has a chance to be as good as any catcher we have had in our program since I have been here, and we have had some great ones including A.J. Ellis, who is currently in the big leagues with the Los Angeles Dodgers. I like P.J.'s toughness and feel for the game. He has grown up in an area where the competitive level of baseball is greater than almost anywhere in the country. P.J. - like Wollenzin, our other catching signee - can really swing the bat and also hits for power from the right side. I couldn't feel any better about the situation we will have with these two young men behind the plate for the next few years."
6-1, 195, C, Lakewood, Colo. (Green Mountain HS)
Career Notes: Under head coach Brad Madden, hit .559 with 10 home runs and 46 RBI in 20 games as a junior... was Jefferson County League "Most Valuable Player" and all-conference selection... selected to All-Colorado Class 5A honorable mention squad... hit walk-off grand slam in 14th inning of district championship game to advance Green Mountain to state tournament, also had a two-run home run in seventh inning of same game... was selected and played in 2009 Area Code Games.
McClure Comments: "After seeing Matt play and having followed the progress of his junior season we feel Matt has the opportunity to come in and hit in the middle of the lineup and contribute heavily as a freshman. Matt - like P.J, our other catching signee - can really swing the bat and also hits for power. I feel confident about the situation we will have behind the plate with these two young men the next few years."
6-0, 160, IF, Manorville, N.Y. (Eastport-South Manor HS)
Career Notes: Under head coach Tom Digennaro, batted .425 with five home runs and 30 RBI as a junior... was selected All-County as a junior and All-League as a sophomore and junior.
McClure Comments: "Chris is a very fundamentally sound infielder with good feet and hands who possesses the arm strength to play either position in the middle infield. He also is a solid hitter who makes good, consistent contact and does all the little things correct on offense. As a player overall, Chris loves the game and knows how it is played, I believe he understands the kind of player he has to be. He is not going to beat himself and therefore we believe he will develop into very nice player as he matures and gains strength."
6-0, 185, IF/OF, O'Fallon, Mo. (Fort Zumwalt North HS)
Career Notes: Played under head coach Dan Springman... Honorable mention St. Louis Post All-Metro Utility as a junior... first-team ESPN RISE Magazine All-St. Louis Area as a pitcher... hit .473 with two home runs, nine doubles and 27 RBI... on the mound, went 6-1 with a 2.02 ERA in 45 innings-pitched, striking out 60 and allowing only 13 earned runs... named a Missouri High School Baseball Coaches Association (MHSBCA) All-State Honorable mention as a utility player... was the Panther's Most Valuable Player in 2009... has a career 17-3 record on the mound... was a one of two incoming players (A.J. Walkenhorst the other) to play on St. Louis Pirates summer travel team run by former Govs standout Rick Strickland.
McClure Comments: "Jordan is very valuable defensive player, because he has the ability to play a number of positions well. He plays third base, second base and can play either corner outfield spot. During this last year he also started catching, where he has improved tremendously. His versatility and understanding of how the game is played along with his strong bat will go a long way toward getting him in the lineup early in his career."
6-1, 180, OF, Humboldt, Tenn. (University School of Jackson)
Career Notes: Played under head coach Brad Dyer... Bruins were TSSAA Class AA runners-up in his freshman season... as a sophomore, hit .484 with six home runs and 17 doubles... was a Tennessee Sportswriters Association All-State selection.... named to the 2008 Tennessee Baseball Coaches Association Region Six team... named to All-District 14 team as well as earning District 14 Most Valuable Player honors in leading the Bruins to a District 14, Region 8 and Sectional titles before falling in the second round of the state tournament... as a junior, led the Bruins to a third consecutive district championship and was named all-tournament... batted .390 with 20 doubles and 32 RBI.
McClure Comments: "I have seen Hunter play quite a bit and he seems to find a way to get the big hit or make the big play each time. He is a pretty strong kid coming out of high school who has the tools and the knowledge to be a very good college baseball player. He runs a 60-yard dash in 6.7 to 6.8 seconds, has a very strong throwing arm, and swings the bat well. Hunter loves to play and knows how to play the game."