Western Nevada College baseball players who complete their sophomore year in Coach D.J. Whittemoreâ€™s program have a very good chance of moving on in their sport.
Four student athletes from WNCâ€™s 2014 team recently signed with DI schools and several others received scholarships with DII programs. Players will be routed to a corresponding four-year school, with many of them receiving NCAA Division I scholarships.
â€œItâ€™s part of their unwritten contract that if they work hard all season and they do everything we ask, theyâ€™ll get rewarded to continue their careers,â€ said Whittemore, who is helping all 11 of his sophomores find new addresses. â€œFortunately, everyone in our program has that opportunity this year, and every year.â€
Joey Crunkilton, a Region 18 first-team selection, was invited to continue his education and playing career at the University of California, Santa Barbara, where heâ€™ll play for Andrew Checketts, a young coach on the rise.
â€œCrunkilton is one of best hitters who has played for us,â€ Whittemore said. â€œI canâ€™t remember anybody who sees the ball better than Joey, and he has a short swing; I feel like he can hit the best pitching in the country.â€
The outfielder batted at a .315 clip and led the Wildcats in a number of power-hitting categories. His eight homers, 16 doubles, .562 slugging average and 44 RBI led the club.
Rayne Raven, a pitcher and infielder, has relocated to Southern California as well, signing with the Cal State Northridge Matadors.
Raven began his WNC career in 2012, the last time the Wildcats qualified for the National Junior College Athletic Association World Series. After missing most of his second season in 2013, the versatile Raven culminated his Wildcat career this spring with a .317 batting average and a 7-4 pitching record, earning second-team honors for the region.
â€œRaven did everything we asked of him: hit for power, got on base, started games, closed out games,â€ Whittemore said. â€œRaven is up to the challenge.â€
University of Texas-Pan American of the Western Athletic Conference has ensured that pitcher Spencer Greer and shortstop Tony Roque can remain teammates for at least two more years.
â€œGreer was one of the best postseason pitchers and had some of the biggest postseason wins in our history,â€ said Whittemore, citing Greerâ€™s 4 2/3-inning, two-hit relief effort in an 8-4 region title-clinching a win over Salt Lake on May 10 and his 7 2/3 innings of scoreless relief in a 9-5 comeback win against Lamar Community College in the Western District Tournament on May 16, 2013.
The right-hander tied for second on the Wildcat staff with seven wins and had the second-lowest earned run average at 2.67. He struck out 56 hitters in 60 2/3 innings. Greer was a Region 18 second-team selection.
Roque committed just 22 errors in more than 100 games during his Wildcat career, getting to balls that many shortstops wouldnâ€™t have.
â€œTony was as good a defender as weâ€™ve seen, especially over a two-year career,â€ Whittemore said. â€œThey needed someone ready to play defense every day at that level, and Tony definitely fits that bill.â€
Roque received honorable mention for the region, hitting .243 with eight doubles and 18 RBI.
The quartet joins 2014 teammates Conor Harber and Christian Stolo, who signed with the University of Oregon and University of Nevada, Reno, respectively, last fall. In addition, infielder Jack Hall, who missed all of last season with an injury, has signed with the University of San Francisco Dons.
Furthermore, catcher Sam Hall and Spenser Dorsey, a first baseman and catcher, have agreed to play for NCAA Division II schools. Hall (.303, 24 RBI) has signed with Dixie State University in St. George, Utah, joining former Wildcats Donald Glover Jr., Evan Parker and Mike Umscheid.
Meanwhile, Dorsey (.260, five homers, 23 RBI) has signed with Central Washington University.
â€œHeâ€™s a physical offensive presence,â€ Whittemore said.
Whittemore expects the remaining sophomores from his 2014 team to sign in the coming weeks.
Right-hander Jeremy Alderman (2-2, 4.89 ERA), infielder Connor Klein (.277, 11 doubles) and outfielder Alex Fife (.325, 31 RBI) are considering their baseball offers as well as education preferences.