Dec. 20, 2011
PRINCESS ANNE, Md. -- University of Maryland Eastern Shore baseball coach Will Gardner has announced the 2012 recruiting class, joining the team after the Hawks more than doubled their conference victories last year.
These 13 players highlight the incoming class, including six pitchers and seven position players that will be a part of the team for the start of the 2012 season.
"This is the biggest class we have ever recruited during one year," says sixth-year head coach Gardner, "we have always felt as if we've brought in good numbers, but this one is the most talented classes we have had thus far. It really adds depth and brings our roster to the level of which we expect to operate efficiently. It's a great time to be a Hawk!"
Dustin Aigner - C - FR - R/R - Melfa, Va. - Nandua H.S.
Aigner comes to UMES after playing at Nandua High School, earning, honorable mention Virginia all-state, all-region and all-district honors after hitting .481 with a .740 slugging percentage, including 14 doubles and two home runs as a senior. He led the Warriors to a combined 40-4 record in his final two seasons. Aigner will compete primarily behind the plate and on the left side of the infield.
"Dustin's great work ethic says a lot about his desire to play at this level. He comes to play every day."
Brady Bassford - 2B - FR - R/R - Olney, Md. - Our Lady of Good Counsel H.S.
Bassford suits up for the team being ranked the #9 player in the Class of 2011 from the state of Maryland by Perfect Game USA. The 2011 Preseason All-American by Rawlings and Perfect Game finished with a career average of .400 for Our Lady of Good Counsel, being part of a Falcons team that was ranked 50th in the country. Bassford will be in the running for a starting spot in the middle of the infield.
"Brady plays the game with extreme intensity and refuses to be out-worked. He is working hard to understand the game at a new level."
Jordan Bone - LHP - FR - L/L - Pittston, Pa. - Pittston Area School
Bone will be the team's lone southpaw pitcher this season. A versatile player, Bone had a 2.70 ERA plus batted .456 with the Patriots, leading his school to a league championship one season. He will primarily be a bullpen pitcher with the possibility of being a mid-week starter.
"Jordan's willingness to learn shows us he wants to be out there. He has three pitches he can throw around the plate and can be very effective."
Aaron Burton - 3B - FR - R/R - Roanoke, Va. - Patrick Henry H.S.
Burton joins the Maroon and Grey after being a two-time all-conference player at Patrick Henry high school. He earned honors as a third baseman and a pitcher, helping the Patriots to a district championship his junior year and a pair of state titles with the Roanoke Badgers. Burton will compete for a starting spot on the left side of the infield.
"Aaron's bat can be very impressive, as he continues to mature physically over the next couple of years, he's going to be fun to watch."
Michael Epps - RHP - FR - R/R - Pottstown, Pa. - Pottstown H.S.
Epps will join the UMES bullpen as one of the tallest players on the roster at 6-5. The right-hander played baseball and football for Pottstown High School, throwing two complete games with the Trojans in his career. He also competed with the Pottstown Warriors, making the championship each year.
"We're expecting big things from him. Once he fills out, his velocity is going to increase. His long arms & legs are going to make it difficult on a lot of batters."
Jesus Hernandez - RHP - JR - R/R - Haverstraw, N.Y. - Rockland C.C.
Hernandez joins the Hawks after spending two years as a Fighting Hawk with Rockland Community College. As a starter last season, the right-hander went 3-3 with a 5.49 ERA, getting 22 strikeouts. He is expected to be a starter and compete for a weekend rotation spot.
"We're excited about having Jesus join us. He commands the zone well and his experience on a college mound is going to prove invaluable to assisting some of our younger guys learn how to play the game at this level."
Joshua James - OF - FR - R/R - Milford, Del. - Milford H.S.
James stays on the Eastern Shore to play for UMES after being a 2011 Henlopen All-Conference outfielder. With Milford High School, James led the Bucs to a conference championship and a 17-3 record his senior season, hitting .385 with 20 RBI. He will compete for time in the outfield and may also have appearances in the infield.
"Josh enjoys playing and has tremendous speed. He really gets after it on the field and should add strong depth to the outfield."
Devin Repine - RHP - FR - Salisbury, Md. - Bennett H.S.
The tallest player on the roster at 6-8, the local prospect will stay on the Eastern Shore of Maryland. Last season with his bat and arm, Repine helped Bennett High School to the 3A Maryland state championship, plus a pair of Bayside championships. He will start out of the bullpen this year.
"When he learns how to use his big body he is going to be very impressive. He is certainly willing to work, and the sky's the limit."
Brandon Schott - C - JR - Warren, Pa. - Allegany College of Maryland
Schott comes to Princess Anne after two years at in the junior college ranks, including one with current Hawk Jacob Foreman. The catcher hit over .325 with at least five doubles and a home run each season for the Trojans. Schott is expected to be the starting catcher this season.
"Brandon's leadership is going to be crucial to leading a very young infield & pitching staff. We're expecting his experience to pay big dividends for us down the stretch."
Chipper Smith - IF/RHP - FR - Florence, S.C. - Wilson H.S.
Smith joins the Hawks as the first person to play for Coach Gardner at UMES from the state of South Carolina. The Pro-Day and Baseball Factory All-American from Wilson High School had a career average of .490 and an ERA of 1.09 for the Tigers. Smith will play in the middle infield and be a part of the bullpen as a late-inning pitcher.
He has an electric arm that could compliment our upperclassmen that already occupy the late inning spots. Chipper brings a lot to the table. His versatility from middle guy to pitcher gives us options in a couple of areas."
Zach Townsend - C - FR - Salisbury, Md. - Parkside H.S.
Townsend, the local Salisbury product, comes down Route 13 to play for the Maroon and Grey. The first-team All-Bayside South catcher in 2011 finished his career at Parkside High with the fourth highest batting average in school history. He will push for time behind the plate.
"Zach is surprisingly quick for his size. He has a great demeanor behind the plate that will be very helpful to the team."
Alex Welch - RHP - FR - Baltimore, Md. - Digital Harbor H.S.
Welch takes to the hill for UMES after coming from Digital Harbor High School, the Baltimore City champion the last four years. The right-hander finished with a career record of 10-1. He will compete for weekday starting spot and should see time in the bullpen.
"He locates well and has a very good breaking pitch to offset his fastball. The cliché `Good things come in small packages' may seem to fit just perfectly in Alex's case."
Malik Wylie - OF - JR - Bronx, N.Y. - West Chester C.C.
Wylie comes to the Eastern Shore from Westchester Community College. With the Vikings last season, Wylie was 11-for-12 on the basepaths and had six extra base hits. He is likely going to be in the middle of the order hitter and will compete for time in the outfield.
"Malik has a lot of potential, and he will to work hard to meet that potential, there is a lot of upside with him."
UMES will begin the season on February 17th with an away series at Gardner-Webb.