December 3, 2013

Cantrell Announces Baseball Program's 2014 Early Signing Class

DAHLONEGA, Georgia – (UNGAthletics.com) – University of North Georgia head baseball coach Tom Cantrell has announced his seven-player early signing class with the group will join the Nighthawk baseball program for the 2014-15 academic year.  The 2014 class is made up of two catchers, three pitchers and a pair of infielders and is comprised of six high school players and one junior college student-athlete. 

The class includes Jack Fleming (Dacula, Ga./Mill Creek), Brice Harrison (Evans, Ga./Evans), Connor Hoover (Evans, Ga./Greenbrier), Dylan Peppers (Madison, Ga./Morgan County/Gordon State), Bobby Tippett (Atlanta, Ga./Lakeside), Taylor Turner (Fayetteville, Ga./Whitewater) and Nick Williams (Canton, Ga./Creekview). 

"We are very excited to announce the seven additions to our program for the 2013 early signing period.  Every one of these players should make immediate impacts on our program," stated Cantrell.  "Our staff put in countless hours evaluating these players ability, but even more hours making sure these players were perfect fits for North Georgia academically, socially, as well as from a baseball standpoint.  These players will all be fine representatives of our university.  We can't wait to get them on campus to begin working with them."

Fleming will be joining his older brother Chip on the UNG baseball roster as a left-handed pitcher out of Mill Creek High School.  In 2013 the younger Fleming recorded a 5-0 record in 34 innings for head coach Doug Jones. He carried a 1.83 earned run average and posted 48 strikeouts. "Jack is another great player that has decided to come our way from Mill Creek.  I'm convinced that players that leave Mill Creek to play at any level are always very prepared to do so.  That is a quality Doug Jones instills in all players at Mill Creek.  His brother Chip is a junior RHP with us now and his father Chip was a standout pitcher at Georgia Tech.  He is a polished type left-handed pitcher with an outstanding fastball and breaking ball to match."

Harrison is a right-handed pitcher from Evans High School and plays for head coach Ricky Beale after previously being evaluated as a catcher. "Brice has been to our camps the last two years as a catcher and this year at camp we put him on the mound to see if his arm strength was comparable off the mound as it is behind the plate.  When we saw him on the mound we were blown away with his fastball velocity, slider, and strike throwing ability with both pitches.  He comes from a storied high school program, and has played a lot of baseball over the years.  All of these qualities and his academic resume made him an easy choice for us."

Hoover is an infielder that has prepped under the direction of Jason Osborn at Greenbrier High School in Evans.  He registered a .397 batting average while leading GHS in total hits and posting only two errors over 26 games.  "Connor is a left-handed hitting infielder from a storied high school program at Greenbrier.  He has great hands on the infield and strong arm.  His power has really started to show over the last fall, and when you add that quality with the fact that he doesn't swing and miss much, you have the makings of a high level collegiate hitter." 

Peppers is a right-handed pitcher from Gordon State College where he pitches for head coach Travis McClanahan after prepping a Morgan County High School.  He is the only junior college player in the 2014 early class.  As a freshman at GSC, Peppers ranked 16th in the GCAA (Georgia Collegiate Athletic Association) in strikeouts and 24th in earned run average.  "Dylan is the only junior college pitcher we signed in this early period.  He is a perfect fit for us at North Georgia.  His ability and versatility on the mound will help us immediately, but his self-discipline is what separates him as a pitcher.  He plays for a great coach at Gordon (McClanahan) and the versatility as a starter and closer are very valuable."

Tippett is a catcher that hails from Lakeside High School in Atlanta where he plays for Bill Newsome.  He garnered attention as a member of the High Follow List from the Perfect Game and is a member of the Dekalb All-County team. "Bobby is a strong athletic player that we have been watching for some time.  He has a great frame to build on with great offensive and defensive abilities that should get even better with time.  We are also excited about his versatility as a defensive player.  He is a catcher by trade, but we believe he will be able to catch but possibly be able to play a number of positions as well."

Turner is also a catcher from Whitewater High School in Fayetteville where he plays for coach Rusty Bennett. He is a member of the Fayette County All-County team.  "Taylor is a catcher that can catch and throw right now at the college level.  His body is still developing physically and his bat will develop power in the years to come.  Awesome kid and player that comes from a blue collar high school program at Whitewater.  His level of experience behind the plate in high school and summer league will give him a chance to display leadership early in his college career at UNG."

Williams is a third baseman from Creekview High School where he plays for Michael Nayman.  Last season he was named to both the All-County and All-Region teams after being voted by his teammates as CHS's Most Improved Player.  "Nick is a big strong player that his displayed power, plus glove ability, and arm strength.  We saw him briefly in the summer and when he attended camp this fall we knew he was a fit."

Cantrell will kick off his 15th season at the helm of the North Georgia baseball program on February 1, 2014 when the Nighthawks entertain Saint Leo University at Bob Stein Field in a 1:00 season-opening doubleheader.