HPU baseball signs 12 players
High Point University baseball coach Craig Cozart announced the signing of 12 student-athletes during the fall early signing period on Tuesday. The class is comprised of five players from both Florida and North Carolina and one player from both Illinois and Indiana.
“We are extremely excited about this falls recruiting class,” Cozart said. “This is a group of outstanding young men who come from tremendous families and possess the highest level of dedication and work ethic. We look forward to bringing them into our program and watching them succeed in the classroom, compete at a high level on the field and represent High Point University in the community.”
Tyler Britton is a right-handed pitcher from Jamestown, who played at Catawba College in 2013. Britton appeared in 11 games with two starts during his freshman season at Catawba and finished with an 8.53 ERA in 12-2/3 innings pitched. He struck out 11 batters while walking just four. Britton was a two-year starter at High Point Christian Academy. He was named to the NCISAA 3A All-State team as a senior after winning 10 games. Britton will play his sophomore season at Pitt Community College.
“Tyler Britton is local kid and a versatile right-handed pitcher,” recruiting coordinator Rich Wallace said. “He has the type of stuff that can work in the rotation or the back of the bullpen. He is an impact arm and we are counting on him to step in and fill a lot of roles.”
Spencer Brown is catcher from Carrboro High School in Chapel Hill, N.C. He is rated among the top 70 players in the state of North Carolina by Perfect Game. Brown is a three-time first-team All-Conference selection and a three-time team captain. He has a career batting average of .345 and led his prep team in both batting average and on-base percentage as both a freshman and sophomore.
“Spencer Brown is a very good defensive catcher,” Wallace said. “He has great catch and throw abilities. Brown is an athletic player who is still developing his offensive skills. He will help us immediately with his defensive skills.”
Evan Cannan is an outfielder and right-handed pitcher from Jesuit High School in Tampa, Fla. He was named a third-team Underclassmen All-American in 2013 by Perfect Game and is currently ranked among the top 75 outfielders in the Class of 2014. He is a three-year letter winner who has helped Jesuit reach the Florida State Championship game in each of his first three seasons. Cannan appeared in 24 games as a junior, hitting .354 with 10 RBI and 14 runs scored.
“Evan Cannan is someone who will play several positions for us,” Wallace said. “He is just a really good baseball player. He is a very good outfielder and has a huge upside on the mound with two plus pitches.”
TJ Case is a right-handed pitcher from Willowbrook High School in Willa Park, Ill. He was named an honorable mention Underclassmen All-American by Perfect Game in 2013 and is currently ranked among the top 50 players from Illinois. Case finished his junior season with a 2.89 ERA and 59 strikeouts in 50-1/3 innings pitched.
“TJ Case is a projectable right-handed pitcher from Illinois,” Wallace said. “He has a very high ceiling. We believe with his ability, he will fill a spot in our rotation.”
Michael Hennessey is a right-handed pitcher from Windermere, Fla., who played at Lake Sumter State College in 2013. Hennessey pitched in 11 games as a freshman, finishing with a 2-5 record and a 3.64 ERA. He struck out 30 batters while walking just eight in 47 innings pitched. After missing one season while battling testicular cancer, Hennessey came back for his senior season at Olympia High School and went 12-0 with a 0.92 ERA and 68 strikeouts in 78-2/3 innings pitched.
“Michael Hennessey is a guy who we have watched for a very long time,” Wallace said. “He is a versatile player who will be able to pitch either in the rotation or at the end of games. It is limitless what he can bring to the team.”
Carson Jackson is an outfielder from Melbourne Senior High School in West Melbourne, Fla. He was named an honorable mention Underclassmen All-American by Perfect Game in 2013 and is currently ranked among the top 100 players from Florida. Jackson hit .551 with 29 RBI, five Home runs and 22 stolen bases as a junior. Jackson is a two-time All-District and All-Conference selection and was named both the 2012 Brevard County Baseball Athlete of the Year and the 2013 Florida Today All-Space Coast Baseball Player of the Year. He has helped lead his prep team to 69 wins and three District Championships over the past three seasons.
“Carson Jackson is an unbelievable athlete,” Wallace said. “He was a football player before turning his sights to baseball. He can play the outfield, the infield and pitch for us. He has great power and with his athletic ability there is nothing he can’t do.”
Hunter Lee is a middle infielder from Winter Park High School in Maitland, Fla. He was named a high honorable mention Underclassmen All-American by Perfect Game in 2013 and honorable mention Underclassmen All-American in 2012. Lee was named first-team All-Metro Conference as a junior after hitting .433 with 19 runs scored. He was named his prep team’s Offensive Player of the Year as a junior and the Defensive Player of the Year as a sophomore after committing just one error on the season.
“Hunter Lee has great offensive ability,” Wallace said. “He has the ability to hit for both average and power. He is a gritty defender who will play up the middle for us. He is just a great baseball player and a grinder.”
Bailey McKee is a middle infielder and right-handed pitcher from Lake Norman High School in Mooresville, N.C. He is a four-year letter winner with a batting average of .435 through three seasons at Lake Norman. McKee was named team MVP as a freshman after joining the team during the season. He was voted the MVP of the Battle of the Border while playing club baseball with the Showcase Baseball Academy.
“Bailey McKee is an athletic utility guy,” Wallace said. He is a plus defender in the infield and a great athlete. He has a lot of potential on the mound where the sky is the limit.”
Gabe Rodriguez is an infielder and right-handed pitcher from Melbourne Senior High School in West Melbourne, Fla. He has helped lead his prep team to 69 wins and three District Championships over the past three seasons. Rodriguez hit .314 with 23 RBI as a junior in 2013. He was named second-team All-Conference as a sophomore after hitting .390 with 26 RBI.
“Gabe Rodriguez is player from Florida who will give us great depth throughout the infield,” Wallace said. He is a very good defender and can hit for average at the plate. He is another player who we feel has a lot of potential to excel on the mound.”
Gage Rogers is an infielder from Bloomington High School in Bloomington, Ind. He was named an honorable mention Underclassmen All-American by Perfect Game in 2013. Rogers is a two-time All-Conference selection and was named second-team All-State as a junior in 2013. He has twice earned his team’s defensive MVP award and is a team captain.
“Gage Rogers is an extremely versatile athlete,” Wallace said. “He has a chance to help us in the infield and he has a rotation-type arm with three pitches. He is extremely athletic and is currently a dual-sport athlete at Bloomington High School where he also is the school’s starting shooting guard.”
Gabe Tippett is a third baseman from The Oakwood School in Greenville, N.C. Tippett was named the CPIC Player of the Year and a member of the North Carolina All-State team as a junior after hitting a team-best .570 with 19 runs scored in his first year at The Oakwood School. He was named honorable mention All-Conference as both a freshman and a sophomore at South Central High School in Winterville, Fla.
“Gabe Tippet is a big physical athlete,” Wallace said. “He has a very high ceiling and is very projectable. We envision him becoming a power bat in the middle of our lineup as he continues to grow and develop.”
Austen Zente in an outfielder from Southwest Guilford High School in High Point, N.C. Zente was named All-Conference as a junior after hitting .340 with 36 runs scored and 16 stolen bases. He was an honorable mention All-Conference selection as a sophomore. Zente has played club baseball with the Panthers Baseball Club for four seasons.
“Austin Zente is local kid who we have a long history with,” Wallace said. “I have known Austin since he was 10-years old. He is a great athlete who can play all three positions in the outfield. He can really run and will be able to steal bases for us. He has the chance to be a big-time player for us.”
High Point opens the 2014 season with a three-game series at Mercer beginning on Friday, Feb. 14. The Panthers’ first home game will be Tuesday, Feb. 18, against Charlotte at 4 p.m. HPU returns 16 letter winners, including 2013 first-team All-Big South selection Spencer Angelis, junior catcher Josh Spano and junior closer Joe Goodman.
WALKER SPARKS BOBCATS PAST WARRIORS
CHARLOTTE — Kemba Walker loves a good challenge.
So when Stephen Curry started lighting it up Monday night in his homecoming game, Walker decided it was time to match him.
The other eight players might as well have been on the bench watching in the final few minutes, when Walker scored Charlotte’s final 15 points to lead the Bobcats to a 115-111 victory over Curry and the Golden State Warriors.
Walker finished with 31 points — 27 in the second half — while battling neck and neck with Curry, who finished with a season-high 43 points, 32 of them coming in the second half including 19 in the final quarter.
When it was suggested it was like watching a pair of heavyweight champions going at it, teammate Gerald Henderson looked over at his 6-foot-1, 184-pound teammate and cracked, “Well, maybe a featherweight championship fight.”
CANUCKS BLANK HURRICANES
VANCOUVER, British Columbia — Eddie Lack made 31 saves in his first NHL shutout, and the Vancouver Canucks defeated the Carolina Hurricanes 2-0 on Monday night.
With No. 1 goalie Roberto Luongo getting the night off, the rookie earned his fourth win of the season in his first appearance at Rogers Arena.
Christopher Tanev and Jannik Hanzen, into an empty net, scored for Vancouver (18-10-5). Chris Higgins had two assists. Justin Peters made 24 saves for Carolina (13-13-5), which had a three-game winning streak snapped.