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JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (Nov. 20, 2014) – ETSU baseball head coach Tony Skole and his staff announced Thursday the Bucs have signed four student-athletes during the early signing period.
The class features a pair of right-handed pitchers in Caleb Cook (Kingsport, Tenn.) and Matt Turner (Knoxville, Tenn.), along with outfielder Lance Mays (Ridgely, Tenn.) and infielder Blake Rowlett (Clarksville, Tenn.).
“Obviously, I am very excited about this recruiting class,” said coach Skole. “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 at a championship level), desire (to be educated at ETSU and receive their degree) and character (to live up to the standards of our program and 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 ETSU and our program. We always take a personalized approach, while sharing our story and what the program can offer these young men. Due to our roster only having a few seniors, this recruiting class is not very large, but it is extremely talented. Most importantly, these young men are the right fit for East Tennessee State. They all come from very successful high school and junior college programs, and each will bring many positives with them to our campus. I believe this class will play a major role in helping us consistently accomplish the goals of our program.
“When a young man visits East Tennessee State, he gets an up-close look at our baseball program and sees the positive impact it’s having on our current players, along with what it has meant for our former players. When they see this, recruits get excited. They also witness the commitment to excellence, attention to detail and enthusiasm of our coaching staff, and how excited the players are to be at ETSU. After seeing all this, 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.”
Cook, a multi-sport athlete from Dobyns-Bennett High School, has recorded a 12-2 record at the varsity level, while posting a 0.88 ERA as a junior. The 6-foot-1 right-handed pitcher was named all-conference as a pitcher in 2014 and also landed all-conference accolades in football as a sophomore. Cook joins his brother Chris – who is a sophomore infielder/pitcher on the Buccaneer roster – while his father Donnie was an All-American for the ETSU football team and is in the Buccaneer Hall of Fame.
What Coach Barksdale and Coach Gordon had to say about Cook…
“Caleb is a talented and athletic two-way player who comes from a long line of ETSU Buccaneers. He has been the backbone of a team that has made trips to state and won a very competitive conference. His head coach Ryan Wagner does an outstanding job developing young men and we have had the good fortune of having some of his players come to ETSU. Caleb features a fastball in the high 80s and shows excellent command. He was also football player at DB as well, and we are excited to add that toughness and competiveness to our club. Obviously, we know a lot about Caleb’s family with Chris playing here and his father being an All-American football player for the Bucs, and expect Caleb to be as valuable an addition to ETSU and community as they have been.”
Turner, a 6-foot-1 right-hander from Harden Valley High School, is coming off a dominate summer ball season with the GA Roadrunners. This past summer, Turner went 6-0 with one save, while allowing four runs (three earned) in 41 innings of work. Turner also struck out 44 and walked seven, and helped guide the Roadrunners to a 51-win season. In the end, the team was ranked second nationally by Perfect Game 16-under. The Knoxville, Tenn. native plays his high school ball for head coach Joe Michalski.
What Coach Barksdale and Coach Gordon had to say about Turner…
“Matt is a mid-80s arm that we think will develop in our program. He has excellent command with a plus breaking ball. He has pitched in some big games over his career – not only in high school – but also in summer ball. He plays for the GA Roadrunners during the summer season, which is one of the most elite summer teams in the state and country. Matt plays on a talented high school team that will compete for a state championship this season, so he will get a chance to take the ball in some big games this year as well. He’s an outstanding young man as a person and his family is outstanding. He will be a big addition to our university and community.”
Mays spent the 2013 season at Roane State before transferring to Dyersburg Community College. Last season, at Roane State, Mays hit .336 (37-110) with three doubles, five triples, one home run and 35 RBI. Mays also scored 18 runs and stole seven bases. The Ridgely, Tenn. native recorded 12 multi-hit games, including a stretch of four consecutive games where he posted two hits each. Mays was a four-year letter-winner at Lake County High School where he was named 2012 Team Defensive Player of the Year and 2013 Team MVP. He was also a two-time all-district honoree.
What Coach Barksdale and Coach Gordon had to say about Mays…
“Lance is an athletic outfielder and a strong defensive player. Offensively, he is a leadoff type hitter, because of his speed and ability to steal bases. Watching Lance play, you can see the incredible amount of energy he brings to the field. We are excited to add that kind of athleticism and energy to our lineup. We believe he is one of the best JUCO players in our state. Lance comes from a great family of athletes with is dad being a star football player for Lake County High School. He is going to be a tremendous addition to the university – not only as a player – but also as a person.”
Rowlett is a left-hand hitting middle infielder from Jackson State Community College. He had one of the best offensive seasons in JUCO baseball last year as he hit .349 with 14 doubles, eight home runs, and drove in 51. Rowlett hit safely in 36 games, while totaling 14 multi-hit games – including a 4-for-5 effort with two home runs and four RBI in a 14-2 win over Harper College on March 26. The middle infielder also homered in three straight games from March 21-25.
What Coach Barksdale and Coach Gordon had to say about Rowlett…
“Blake is one of the best hitters in the state at any level and we are excited about plugging him into our lineup. He is strong defensively and he runs extremely well. His coach at Jackson State is first-class and has developed a lot of very good hitters in his short time as head coach there. We look forward to continuing our relationship with him in the future. Blake will fit right in with what is already an athletic lineup. He’s a good student and comes from a great family. We are excited about what he will add to our university and community.”
Coach Skole knows the importance of recruiting and all the hard work that is put into the process.
“Our assistant coaches, Xan Barksdale and Chris Gordon, 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,” said Skole. “We were very specific in filling the needs we had, and we feel very fortunate to land the players we really wanted.”
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