Baseball team adds five recruits for 2017 season

Maher Kawash, Staff Reporter

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The Eastern Illinois baseball team added some young talent this past week as five recruits signed their National Letters of Intent to join the program for the 2017 season.

The Panthers will receive the talents of right handed pitchers Dylan Baird and Jordan Walden, outfielders Jack Holden and Jason Hall-Manley, as well as the addition of catcher Ryan Knernschield.

“We look for guys who handle themselves in the class room, and we look for athletes, so these guys fit in with that,” Eastern coach Jason Anderson said. “We had a luxury this year because we already have a lot of the pieces that we need to win games, so we went after specific needs with this class.”

The Panthers are coming off a season where they did not meet expectations with a 13-36 record, so the program is in the process of rebuilding with recruiting classes in the next few seasons.

The team will have a new coach to lead them throughout the process as Anderson was given the job after serving as an assistant the past three seasons.

This year’s recruiting class will be the first under Anderson, and it will come with plenty of high expectations as he attempts to turn the program into a winning one.

“Each coach has their own standards of what exactly you look for in a player, and these guys all bring that winning mentality I look for despite their talent on the field,” Anderson said.

Each player in the recruiting class will bring something different to the team according to Anderson, but Holden will be expected to produce immediately.

“All the recruits will bring something special to the team, but Holden will be expected to come in and make an impact right away since he has two years of college experience under his belt,” Anderson said.

Holden is the one recruit among the class that has collegiate experience, as he is transferring from Lincoln Trail Community College.

The team filled their needs at the pitching position by adding Baird and Walden who have the size of some major leaguers as Walden is coming as a 6’6 200 pound pitcher.

Hall-Manley and Holden will provide a spark to the offense as they offer a talent of power for the team.

The recruitment of Knernschield will fill a much needed hole for the team as they only have three catchers that are underclassmen.

“These guys will have to go through a learning curve, but they definitely have the tools to succeed,” Anderson said. “The opportunity will be here for them to come in here and win some starting spots.”

 

Maher Kawash can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected]