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Baseball Announces the Signing of 14 Student-Athletes

December 17, 2014  Lynchburg, Va.  RSS
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Liberty head baseball coach Jim Toman

Liberty head baseball coach Jim Toman

Liberty head baseball coach Jim Toman has announced the signing of 14 student-athletes during the November signing period. Toman cited the hard work of the baseball staff, the new Liberty Baseball Stadium, back-to-back NCAA Regional appearances, massive campus-wide expansion, and a devoted support staff as major factors in securing commitments from such a talented group of prospects.

The class is comprised of nine high school recruits and five from the junior college ranks.  The Flames signed eight pitchers, four outfielders, a catcher and an infielder during the signing period.

"I am extremely proud to bring this talented group of players to Liberty University", said Toman.  "Not only is this a very talented group, but it is also a group of young men that are committed to succeed in the classroom and grow in their Christian faith."

The Flames signed six recruits from their talent-rich home state of Virginia. The remaining recruits hail from Pennsylvania, North Carolina, West Virginia, Maine, Florida, and Washington.

The Liberty baseball program is in the midst of arguably the most successful run in school history.  A school-record 18 players have been drafted over the past four years, the program has been to back-to-back NCAA Regionals for the first time in school history and the 2014 squad earned a top 25 ranking from all of the major polls, while setting a new school record with a 23-3 mark in conference play. In addition, Liberty recorded the second most wins and the fourth 40-plus win season in in program history with a 41-18 mark.    

"This was a national recruiting campaign for us, and we hope this class can build on the foundation of success that has been laid," noted Toman. "Although we were able to do extremely well in our home state, we continue to draw players from all over the country.  We will continue to evaluate our program's needs and will more than likely sign a few more student-athletes in the spring."

The signing class includes:





Previous School

D.J. Artis



Greensboro, N.C.

Southeast Guilford High School

Zander Clouse



Kenmore, Wash.

Bellevue College

Jack DeGroat



Purcellville, Va.

Loudoun Valley High School

Cody Gamble



Live Oak, Fla.

Polk State College

Zack Helsel



Altoona, Pa.

Altoona Area High School

Derek Horton



Forest, Va.

Liberty Christian Academy

Andrew Kowalo



Wheeling, W. Va.

Potomac State College

Jon Letchworth



Gloucester, Va.

Gloucester High School

Ryan McKenna



Berwick, Maine

St. Thomas Aquinas High School

Evan Mitchell



Lynchburg, Va.

Potomac State College

Aaron Rudisill



Newton, N.C.

Maiden High School

Thomas Simpson



Port Orchard, Wash.

Tacoma Community College

Nathan Trevillian



Amherst, Va.

Amherst County High School

Sam Urban



Purcellville, Va.

Loudoun Valley High School

D.J. Artis, OF, 5-11/170 (Southeast Guilford High School, Greensboro, N.C.)
The outfielder ranks as the 277th overall prospect nationally and was the 11th top prospect in the state of North Carolina. The speedy Artis batted .446 for Southeast Guilford with an OB% of .512, last season.  He also had six doubles and stole 24 bases, earning all-conference and all-region honors. 
The talented Artis also enjoyed a successful summer as he was selected to play in the Powerade State Games and also was a top performer for the Evoshield Canes. The outfielder had an outstanding showing at the WWBA 17U tournament, hitting .533 with 11 runs and four stolen bases.

Zander Clouse, RHP, 6-2/180 (Bellevue College, Kenmore, Wash.)
The pitcher earned Washington All-State honors as a senior at Archbishop Murphy High School and was ranked as one of the Top 25 prospects from the state during his senior year by Perfect Game. Clouse attended Bellevue College in 2014 and posted three wins and a save for the perennial NWAACC powerhouse.  A durable and consistent pitcher, the right-hander appeared in 14 games and pitching 43 innings and striking out 36.

Jack DeGroat, RHP, 6-2/180 (Loudoun Valley High School, Purcellville, Va.)
The right-hander is rated as one of the Top 500 prospects in the country and a Top 25 prospect in the Commonwealth of Virginia. This past season at Loudon Valley High School, where he was the teammate of fellow Liberty signee Sam Urban, the junior pitched 36 2/3 innings, posting a 0.57 ERA and striking out 58. He earned the win in the title game as the Vikings captured the 3A State Championship game. In addition, he picked up the win in the gold medal game at the Commonwealth Games of Virginia.
Prior to his junior year, the right-hander with a fastball in the low 90's was named 2014 Underclass All-American honorable mention by Perfect Game.

Cody Gamble, RHP, 6-1/170 (Polk State College, Live Oak, Fla.)
The right-hander posted a 5-1 mark with a 2.15 ERA as a high school senior at Suwannee High School in 2013, before following up with an impressive three-to-one strikeout-to-walk ratio at Polk State College, this past season.
Appearing in 18 games with 27 2/3 innings pitched as a freshman, Gamble won two games and recorded a save to help the Eagles post a 39-14 overall record in 2014. A consistent strike-thrower with a good curveball, he struck out 25 batters.

Zack Helsel, RHP, 6-1/185 (Altoona Area High School, Altoona, Pa.)
A sidearm specialist and exceptional athlete at Altoona Area High School, Helsel has emerged as one of the top pitchers in the state of Pennsylvania. After suffering a broken jaw and collarbone that sidelined him for much of 2013, Helsel returned to regain his form while pitching for the prestigious USA Elite this past summer, where he surrendered only three earned runs over the entire summer of 2014. 

Derek Horton, OF, 5-11/180 (Liberty Christian Academy, Forest, Va.)
The outfielder established himself as one of the top players in the state of Virginia at Liberty Christian Academy during his sophomore year. Ranked by Perfect Game as the second top prospect for outfielders in the state, Horton batted .347 with two home runs and had 17 stolen bases in 2013.  In addition, he earned first team all-conference honors.
Horton will enter Liberty as the strongest recruit in the class and one of the fastest as well.

Andrew Kowalo, SS, 6-3/195 (Potomac State College, Wheeling, W.V.)
A slick-fielding shortstop with a strong arm from Wheeling Park High School, Kowalo earned West Virginia All-State honors as a senior by leading the Patriots to the state semifinals.
After signing with Potomac State College out of high school, he made an immediate impact for the Catamounts. In 48 games as a freshman, Kowalo batted .371 with 11 doubles, two home runs, and 20 RBI.

Jon Letchworth, RHP, 6-5/190 (Gloucester High School, Gloucester, Va.)
The right-hander is ranked among the Top 1000 prospects in the country by Perfect Game.  As a junior, the 6-5 pitcher logged 43 innings on the mound, recording a 0.70 ERA, while posting five wins and a save. Letchworth also recorded 34 strikeouts, only allowing 24 hits and holding opponents to a .154 batting average.  This past season, the pitcher earned all-conference honors. 

Ryan McKenna, OF, 5-10/185 (St. Thomas Aquinas High School, Berwick, Maine)
Rated as the No. 50 prospect in the nation by Baseball America and the No. 1 prospect in the state of Maine by Perfect Game, the outfielder hit .551 in at St. Thomas Aquinas High School in 2014. McKenna also hit eight home runs, six doubles, and two triples.
A versatile player, who excels both at the plate and in the field, McKenna was named to the Pine Tree State's All-State first team and was nominated for State Player of the Year honors.  He was also selected to participate in the East Coast Professional Showcase and the prestigious Area Code Games in Long Beach, Calif.

Evan Mitchell, RHP, 6-0/170 (Potomac State College, Lynchburg, Va.)
A local product with a tremendous work ethic, the right-hander signed with Potomac State College after an outstanding career at Lynchburg's Brookville High School.  During his freshman year, Mitchell helped lead the Catamounts to a 38-13 overall record.
On the mound, he posted a 6-1 mark with three complete games over 13 appearances.  Mitchell finished 2014, having pitched 41 innings, striking out 46 batters, and boasting a stellar 9.94 strikeouts per nine innings ratio.

Aaron Rudisill, C, 6-0/190 (Maiden High School, Newton, N.C.)
A standout for Maiden High School, the catcher has been a varsity starter since his freshman year.  As a junior, Rudisill batted .530 with an on-base percentage of .680 this past season. He also belted four home runs and only struck out one time in 89 at bats.
The catcher earned all-conference honors as a sophomore and junior.  In addition, he was named a all-state team member his junior year and was the starting catcher for Region 7 in the Powerade State Games.  Rudisill also carries a 4.42 GPA.

Thomas Simpson, RHP/UT, 6-0/185 (Tacoma Community College, Port Orchard, Wash.)
As a two-way player at South Kitsap High School, Simpson was a 2013 all-league selection his senior season.  After signing with Tacoma Community College, he helped the Titans post a 38-9 overall record in 2014.
A versatile and very athletic player, Simpson played summer baseball for the Olympia Athletics of the Puget Sound League, where he was among the league leaders in wins, strikeouts, ERA and stolen bases.

Nathan Trevillian, RHP, 6-3/165 (Amherst County High School, Amherst, Va.)
Ranked as the 242nd prospect in the nation and the third overall prospect in the Commonwealth of Virginia by Perfect Game, the right-hander posted a 10-1 record with a 1.02 ERA and 107 strikeouts over 68 1/3 innings in 2013.
The strong-armed right-hander with a power breaking ball was named to the all-conference, all-district, and all-region first teams, while being selected to the all-state second team. In addition, Trevillian earned conference and district Pitcher of the Year awards.

Sam Urban, OF, 5-10/160 (Loudoun Valley High School, Purcellville, Va.)
The outfielder enjoyed a breakout year for Loudon Valley High School, where he was at teammate of fellow Liberty signee Jake DeGroat, during his junior season in 2014. Urban batted .424, collecting two doubles, five triples and 15 RBI, helping to lead the Vikings to the 3A State Championship.
Urban was named to first team all-conference, all-region and all-state teams, this past season.  Off the field, he is also an Honor Roll student.