JDCC recruiting winds down

Published 8:32 am Monday, July 18, 2011

Jefferson Davis Community College Warhawk baseball coach Darrell Blevins is currently in the final stages of filling the roster for his 2011-2012 baseball team for the JDCC Warhawks.

Blevins said, to date, he has filled all of his scholarship positions and is conducting a few interviews and conversations with potential walk-on players.

“For the 2011-2012 season, we will return ten sophomores off of last year’s squad,” Blevins said. “Those that are returning are Wade Hunter, one of our starting first basemen from last year, who lead our team in hitting with a .336 batting average which included six home runs. Along with Hunter, Brandon Blackwelder returns after playing 47 games last season between third base and leftfield. Blackwelder compiled a.325 batting average over a span of 154 at bats last year.”

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Joining those will be Dustin Bickmeyer who will return as a candidate for the starting catcher position.

“Bickmeyer played in 30 games, compiled a.308 batting average with 65 at bats on the year,” Blevins said. “An excellent catcher, especially in the area of blocking pitches in the dirt and controlling the running game, Bickmeyer should be even better his sophomore year having already been through the struggles that a typical freshman will encounter.”

Sophomore outfielders that will return for the Warhawks include Jordan Creel and Nathan Edwards.

“Creel finished his freshman season batting.321 with 134 at bats while playing 48 games on the year,” Blevins said. “He played well over the entire season, but the game really began to come easy for him late, where he showed extreme improvement at the plate over the last two and a half weeks of the season. Also, on the base paths, Creel swiped 19 bases in 20 attempts, all while having torn cartilage in his knee. Edwards will return where he will compete once again for the starting right field position where he played 41 games last season. Edwards, a right-handed pitcher, will also factor into the pitching staff in some capacity.”

Stuart Todd will also return for his sophomore year with the Warhawks.

“As a freshman, Todd split time at first and third base,” Blevins said. “A physically strong left-handed hitter, Todd will not only push for playing time at each of the corner positions, he also will be a candidate for the designated hitter position in the batting order.”

Of the players returning, Blevins said 40 percent represent pitchers for the Warhawks.

“Jeremy Barnes, Joey Hedden, Tyler Moore, and Corey Thompson combined to throw a total of 215 innings of baseball for the Warhawks as freshmen,” Blevins said. “This should help the pitching staff this season because these four guys were in the heat of the battle all year long. They are now seasoned, they know what to expect, and they now have an idea of just how competitive the Southern Division of the Alabama Community College Conference really is. And even more, these guys demonstrated last year as freshmen, that they were willing to do the work necessary, every day, in order to prepare themselves for their next appearance.”

The Warhawks of JDCC will have around 14 freshmen entering the program when things get started in August. Of these 14 new scholarship players, seven will be counted on heavily within the pitching rotation, Blevins said.

“Pete King, a left-handed pitcher from runner-up state champion Crenshaw Christian in Luverne is expected to push for one of the starting pitcher roles,” Blevins said. “Another left-handed pitcher, Tyler Howell, who played for Tate High School in Pensacola is sure to compile a number of innings his freshman year as well. Entering Jeff Davis, Howell brings a competitive spirit along with the ability to get groundball after groundball due to having excellent command with his fastball.”

Two other left-handed pitchers who will see time on the mound for the Warhawks are Cody Brannen from Choctawhatchee High School in Fort Walton Beach and Trey Place from Alma Bryant High School from the Alabama town Irvington.

“Brannen, a standout wide receiver on Choctawhatchee’s football team brings a wealth of athleticism and the ability to be a duel player by not only being able to pitch, but also, being able to play one of the outfield spots as well,” Blevins said. “It should be very exciting to watch this young man progress at the college level over the next couple of years.”

Trey Place will also be able to serve in a duel capacity for the Warhawks. Place is a left-handed hitting and left-handed throwing player and not only will help the squad on the mound, but he can play outfield and has a very good glove at first-base.

“As a senior for Alma Bryant, Place played mostly in right field and hit in their third hole in the batting order where he helped Alma Bryant to a semi-final finish in the state playoffs,” Blevins said.

Other pitchers entering their freshman year for the Warhawks include John Williams from Theodore High School, Mike Yarborough from Pensacola Catholic High School, and Rush Nimmer from Greenville high School. These three guys are all right-handed pitchers who were either the number one or number two starting pitcher for their high school, Blevins said.

“John Williams a 6-2, 160 pound right-hander,” Blevins said. “He brings a live arm, with good arm action and a hammer of a curveball to the pitching staff. It will also be fun to watch John over the next few months, as he should really grow physically into a pitcher who could really be dominant at our level. Everything is already in place for him to have a good college career, we just have to gain the knowledge and put in the work that will be needed to be successful at our level and reap the reward that comes from hard work.”

Mike Yarborough was the number two starter for coach Richard Labounty and Pensacola Catholic, Blevins said, and he brings a mid 80s fastball with pinpoint control and a knowledge of how to win.

“Helping to lead Pensacola Catholic to the finals of the Florida State Championship, Yarborough pitched six strong innings in the championship game against Bishop Verot Catholic High School from Ft. Meyers, giving up two earned runs only to see the game get away to Bishop Verot with a final score of 4-3.”

Rush Nimmer from Greenville High School should also prove to be an integral part of this upcoming season’s pitching staff, Blevins said.

“As Greenville’s No. 2 starter, Nimmer helped lead Greenville into the state playoffs where they would eventually be upended by a strong Chilton County team,” Blevins said. “Nimmer will also compete for playing time at one of the corner infield positions. Not only can he play defensively at either of the corner positions, Nimmer is a true hitter as well. Possessing gap-to-gap power with a smooth and compact swing, Rush should prove to be one of the better hitters on the squad when everything washes out.”

Dillan Schaniel from Daphne High School, Andrew Tindell from Escambia High School, Trey Walsingham from Milton High School, and Kyle Freeman from West Florida Tech high School will all enter this season battling for playing time on the infield according to Blevins.

“Schaniel, a middle infielder, will push for playing time at both second base and shortstop positions,” Blevins said. “While at Daphne, he played shortstop his junior year and was moved to second base for most of his senior year. Along with his ability to field, and the fact that he is a 6.6 second runner in the 60-yard dash, Schaniel hit eight homeruns this past season for Daphne. We will also develop him for use within the pitching staff. He possesses an upper 80s fastball and a slider that should not go overlooked. We expect Dillan to be a set-up man or even a closer type pitcher on the pitching staff. The good thing is, Dillan is such a good athlete, he should be able to play a position and help the pitching staff without having any problems.”

Andrew Tindell will enter this fall for JDCC as the leading candidate for the shortstop position. “Throughout the entire year Andrew played very well for a very young and inexperienced Escambia High School squad and coach Roger Mayo,” Blevins said. “Tindell was listed among the area leaders in fielding and batting throughout the entire year. A very good runner, Tindell is excellent at going from first to third, and with a few adjustments, should become a quality base stealer for the Warhawks. He also brings an energy to the field that is contagious. This kid will be fun to be around, and it is obvious that he likes to play the game of baseball.”

Trae Walsingham comes to JDCC from Milton High School and will enter as the leading candidate for the second base position according to Blevins.

“He should be able to replace the vacancy left by last year’s second baseman Bill Hamrick who moved on to play at the University of Montevallo,” Blevins said. “Walsingham, already being touted as a Division I fielder, will bring consistency to our play in the middle of the field. As the leadoff hitter for Milton high School for most of the year, Walsingham was another player that kept himself within the list of the area’s best players all year long.”

Kyle Freeman is from West Florida Tech High School where he played for coach Mark Conti, and according to Blevins, will battle for playing time somewhere within the infield.

“Signed to the Warhawks as a third baseman, Freeman has the athletic ability to play all four infield positions,” Blevins said. “He actually had to play all four positions this past season at West Florida, and did an exceptional job for the Jaguars. As a right-handed hitter, Freeman also brings some additional power to the plate for the Warhawks. It would not be a total surprise to see Kyle pitch in some capacity for Jeff Davis as well. He possesses a mid 80s fastball with a low three-quarter arm slot which allows for good arm side run.”

At the catchers spot for the Warhawks entering their freshman season include Corey Lane from Theodore High School and Danny Sellers from Satsuma High School.

Blevins said both of these guys will battle with Dustin Bickmeyer to see who will end up with the starting catchers spot.

“Lane, a right-handed hitter, hit six home runs for Theodore this past season and should find his way to being a run producer hitting somewhere within the five, six, or seven spots of the batting order,” Blevins said. “Behind the plate, Lane has shown exceptional arm strength, has a body that should prove durable for the position, and already has a working knowledge having played with right-handed pitcher John Williams. Danny Sellers from Satsuma High School is one of the better catch and throw guys I have seen in a long time. His arm action from behind the plate is exciting to see. Another kid who really likes to compete, Danny will bring a little attitude or swagger that any club wants to have. A standout linebacker on his football team, Sellers is surely tough enough for the position. A very strong young man physically, and coming from such a good program as Satsuma and coach Mike Symanski, Sellers is sure to be a positive addition to the club.”