Baseball: WNC pitchers sign with D-I schools
For three members of the Western Nevada College baseball team Wednesday’s National Signing Day was the complete opposite of what the day held for them just a year ago.
Pitchers Kramer Champlin, David Carroll and Jeremy Gendlek signed with Division I teams after not having the chance to do so while seniors in high school. None of the trio received an offer from any D-I program.
Champlin signed with Arizona State, Carroll with Maryland and Gendlek with Utah Valley. Joining them was newcomer Riley Bevill, a transfer from Oregon, who signed with New Mexico State.
Champlin showed college scouts what they were missing during his freshman year with the Wildcats. He was named the Region XVIII Pitcher of the Year with an 8-0 record, including a no-hitter in his first start of the year, and recorded three saves.
The 6-foot-7 pitcher grew up in Olympia, Wash., but said he always dreamed of playing for ASU because of its tradition. The Sun Devils have won five national championships and haven’t missed an NCAA tournament since 1999. The program has also turned out pros such as Barry Bonds and Dustin Pedroia.
“They were my first offer and I couldn’t really say no,” said Champlin, who is the fourth WNC player to sign with ASU. “They were my dream. When they offered, the money situation was right. I took my visit, loved it and couldn’t be happier.”
Carroll established himself as dominant starter last season with the Wildcats after posting a 3.64 ERA in 17 appearances as the No. 2 pitcher. He threw a complete game shutout in the JUCO World Series and won three of four starts in the postseason.
The righty joins a Maryland program in transition with a new head coach and pitching coach, but Carroll said the opportunity to play in one of a top baseball conference was too good to pass up.
“Just the ACC baseball is big time with the competition there with (North) Carolina and all those schools,” Carroll said. “My major is political science so that’s a good area for that as well as the East Coast area.”
Gendlek was used seldom last season, posting a 3.38 ERA in 10.2 innings of work. But the sophomore could see more playing time this season.
Utah Valley was recently given the status of a Division I program after spending the last seven years as a provisional member following a jump from the JUCO ranks.
“I’m hoping to come in and make an impact quickly,” Gendlek said. “Being a transfer, hopefully I have equal, if not more experience, than a lot of the guys there. Playing in this league, I’ve seen some good hitters so hopefully I’ll be able to take that into the Great West Conference and make a big impact.”
Bevill, a power-pitching righty, will make his Wildcat debut Jan. 29 when the team kicks off the season at South Mountain in Las Vegas. He transferred from Oregon after suffering a string of injuries that caused him to redshirt his freshman year.
“I decided to come down here because it would give me a better opportunity to get some innings, play and see what else happens,” Bevill said. “I’m definitely fortunate another D-I school looked at me so quick.”
The four signings give WNC a total of 27 players who have either signed Division I scholarship offers or have gone on to play at the level. WNC coach D.J. Whittemore said he was proud of the accomplishments of the four players and is sure that there will be more signings to come during the spring signing period, which begins April 14.
“I think that’s what today’s about is the players and them accomplishing something they worked hard for their entire lives,” Whittemore said. “I know most of them dream about professional baseball, but certainly being a Division I baseball player is a huge step.
“I think collectively as a group it’s a great start to the year. Last year we had nine players sign with Division I schools and we’ve already got four this year and probably going to have a few more this spring. That’s a good barometer for us, it mean’s we’re recruiting the right kids and we’re developing our players.”