Three WNC players sign with DI schools
November 13, 2015
Two West Coast baseball programs on the rise and another perennially among the nation's best have inked Western Nevada College players to letters of intent during the NCAA Division 1's early signing period.
Cal State Fullerton, a four-time national champion, has signed Wildcat sophomore outfielder D.J. Peters, who originally agreed to play for the Titans out of high school in Glendora, Calif.
"Once Fullerton offered me a scholarship again, that's where I wanted to go," Peters said. "I'm grateful for everything I've been through. I've grown up a lot through the process, and I'm excited to be a Titan, for sure."
In addition, left-handed pitcher Matt Young became the second WNC pitcher in three years to sign with his hometown University of Nevada, Reno Wolf Pack, which claimed the Mountain West Conference regular-season title a year ago.
"It was important to me that with their new coaches, I was one of the first people they recruited. That was nice to see that they actively wanted me," Young said. "Originally, my plan was to sign in the spring and see what options I had. But UNR came at me with an offer I couldn't refuse. I just thought everything added up at the right time, so I pulled the trigger."
Lastly, right-hander Josh Mill followed former WNC standout pitcher and infielder Rayne Raven to Cal State University Northridge.
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"I just really wanted a place that coaches were going to make me feel welcome, players were going to make me feel welcome and I was going to have a chance to pitch at the next level and get noticed for the MLB Draft the next couple of years," Mill said. "I was also looking for a school that suited me because school is such a huge, huge thing for me. I'm going to major in biology and they have a pretty good program there, so it made the decision a lot easier."
WNC 11th-year coach D.J. Whittemore said all three players share similar qualities and serve as role models to other players in the program who are focused on playing at the next level.
"They are coachable," Whittemore said. "They are talented. They work harder than anyone on the team. They are selfless. They are winners. They are great students. They are just the whole package, and we couldn't be prouder of the way they represent our program on the field, off the field or in the classroom."
In his freshman season at WNC, Peters consistently demonstrated he's much more than a power hitter. Even though Peters pounded out 23 extra-base hits in 200 at-bats, he was the Wildcats' third-leading hitter at .340. Peters' versatility and talent bolstered the Wildcat bullpen as well as he appeared in six games and won his only decision. By season's end, his play convinced Scenic West Athletic Conference coaches to select him to the conference's first team.
Having an opportunity to play with one of college baseball most successful programs contributed to Peters' decision. The Titans have won four national championships and participated in 17 College World Series in Omaha, Neb.
"Fullerton is only 35 minutes from my house, and if you do the math, they go to Omaha almost every other year, so they have a history of winning," Peters said.
Young adjusted immediately to the higher competition in the SWAC's wooden bat league and was among the national leaders in victories for an extended period during his freshman season. For a player who grew up in Reno longing to play for the Wolf Pack since he was a middle school athlete, Young is fulfilling a dream.
"It's really unique to be able to go back home and still be able to play for the local team," said Young, a graduate of Reno High School. "I know so many people there that it's just really nice to be home again; plus, they have a really good program now, too, and I'm looking forward to seeing how good we can be."
There has been a history of WNC players signing and succeeding at UNR.
Young finished his freshman campaign with an 8-4 record, 2.82 ERA, two complete games, 65 strikeouts and a .195 batting average against him. He led the Wildcats in wins, complete games, innings pitched (92 2/3) and starts (13).
Whittemore said CSN recruiting coordinator Jordan Twohig deserves credit for "discovering" Mill early this fall and then pursuing him until he signed.
A lower back injury limited Mill's pitching sample size to 20 innings for the Wildcats in 2015. Mill was 0-2 with a 4.50 ERA.
"I felt like I was a top-caliber player last year, but the injury got the best of me," Mill said. "But I'm healthy now. I took the summer off, so I'm feeling really fresh and my velocity is up."