JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (Nov. 24, 2009) - ETSU head baseball coach Tony Skole announced the signing of Justin Willis (Knoxville, Tenn.), Steven Monger (Oak Ridge, Tenn..) and Clinton Freeman (Johnson City, Tenn.) to the 2009-10 Buccaneer class on Tuesday.
"Obviously I am very excited about this recruiting class," Skole said. "All of these young men truly fit into the culture we have established here for ETSU baseball. In our recruiting we always focus on three equally important areas: talent (to play well at ETSU), desire (to be educated at ETSU and receive their degree), and character (to want to represent ETSU, our program, our community, family and friends with pride and respect.) Our mission is always to find the best kids for our school and our program. We always take a personalized approach while sharing our story and what our program can offer these young men. Due to our roster only having one senior this recruiting class is not very large but it is very talented. Most importantly though, they are the right fit for East Tennessee State. They all come from very successful high school programs and each will bring something positive with them to our campus. As we continue to raise the bar for ETSU Baseball, I believe this class will play a major role in helping us consistently get to the championship level."
"Our assistant coaches, Clay Greene and Reid Casey, along with our players and the rest of our administration and support staff, did a tremendous job of identifying, evaluating and recruiting this tremendous group of young men. We had great results in landing the players we really wanted. We are excited to get another outstanding local player and also two more from the Knoxville area."
"When a young man visits East Tennessee State and gets an up close look at our baseball program and sees the positive impact it is having on our current players and has had on our former players, they get excited. When they witness the commitment to excellence, attention to detail and enthusiasm of our coaching staff and how excited our players are to be at ETSU, they realize it is a place where they can accomplish all their goals and have an experience that will remain with them for the rest of their lives."
"In this class we had to fill some very specific needs. Left-handed pitching was a huge priority and we feel like we have brought in two outstanding southpaws in Clinton Freeman and Justin Willis. Both of them will be able to pitch for us immediately. We then went after a catcher in Steven Monger, who is one of the top catchers in the state of Tennessee."
"Our fans are going to enjoy watching these young men compete for ETSU. As talented as each of them are, the thing I am most proud of is the personal qualities each of these young men possess. They are all outstanding young people. We hold our players to a very high standard here at ETSU and our program takes a lot of pride in living up to those standards. This recruiting class is going to be a great fit for our campus and our community."
Freeman, a 6-foot-0, 175-pound, left-handed pitcher comes from Crockett High School where he plays for Scott Hagy. Freeman had a 7-3 record his junior year with a 3.78 ERA striking out 83 batters in 57.1 innings. Freeman also had success at the plate hitting .466 in 2009 with eight home runs, 17 doubles, drove in 37 and scored 36 runs. Freeman was named to the Johnson City Press Super 22 Team. He also played on Team Tennessee in the prestigious SunBelt Series.
Skole on Freeman
"We are very excited and honored that Clinton Freeman is coming to ETSU. Clinton was very highly recruited and is considered by many publications to be one of the top players in the state of Tennessee. He has already had an accomplished high school career and I'm sure his senior year will be even more dominant. Clinton is one of those special young men who can do many things well on the baseball field. He can beat you in many different ways and when you combine that with his competitive make-up, you have a young man who has a bright future at ETSU. Clinton is one of the top left handed pitchers in Tennessee and is also a very accomplished hitter. Clinton will fall right in line with some of the other outstanding two-way players we have at ETSU. He will immediately have a positive impact in our program. Our fans are going to love watching Clinton Freeman line it up for the Buccaneers."
Monger, a 5-foot-11, 185-pound, catcher comes from Oak Ridge High School where he hit .343 with eight doubles, two home runs and drove in 28 for head coach Tom Froning. Monger has thrown out 22 of 30 runners during his time at Oak Ridge hitting .322 with 22 doubles and 61 RBI in three years for the Wildcats.
Skole on Monger
"Steven is considered by many to be the top defensive catcher in the state of Tennessee. Steven is a shut down catcher, who has the best arm of any catcher I have ever recruited. He can simply eliminate any type of running game from his opponent. Steven has the exact makeup we are looking for in a ball player. He is a tireless worker and loves to play the game. Steven is a tremendous young man who will be a great addition to our campus community."
Willis, a 6-foot-3, 160-pound, left-handed pitcher comes from Gibbs High School where he plays for Geoff Davis. While at Gibbs, Willis led the Eagles in 2009 with a 9-3 record posting a 2.42 ERA with 69 strikeouts in 72 innings. Willis helped Gibbs reach the Regional Finals last season and was named to the All-Region and All-KIL teams.
Skole on Willis
"Justin is one of the top pitchers in the state of Tennessee. He has as much upside of any pitcher we have ever recruited. He has a big-league type frame and he is still growing. Justin has great command of the strike zone and he throws all his pitches for strikes and has good deception on the mound. Justin is a very poised young man and is a fierce competitor. The sky is the limit for Justin as we expect him to have a very successful career at ETSU. He is a winner and simply takes care of business. Justin is going to make a huge impact on our program and on our campus. He is an outstanding young man who has a very bright future."
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