By Charles Whisnand
Appeal Sports Editor
The Bible says that your reputation goes before you and it looks like many Western Nevada College baseball players are benefitting from the name that the Wildcats have already made for themselves after just three seasons.
WNC again has many players moving onto four-year schools " with several going on to Division I programs. The last player who still needs to decide where he's going is sophomore catcher Chuck Howard, who will end up at a Division I school.
Howard is being recruited by UNLV and the University of New Orleans, but WNC coach D.J. Whittemore said it now looks like New Mexico State is the leading contender to sign Howard as it has made him the best offer. Whittemore said it's "likely he'll end up at New Mexico State." Whittemore also said Howard should decide by the end of the month.
Whittemore said he believes that Howard has been helped by becoming a National Junior Collegiate Athletic Assocation All-American honorable mention selection. "I think the interest has grown with the honor," Whittemore said.
Another factor, Whittemore said, has been the way that Howard has handled pitchers. "He's caught seven guys that got drafted in the last couple of years," Whittemore said.
Among those guys is freshman left-handed pitcher Josh Moody, who was drafted in the 29th round by the Atlanta Braves in June. Moody has verbally committed to Arizona State and will sign with the school in the fall.
But Moody obviously also has the chance to be drafted and sign with a Major League team next year.
Another freshman pitcher who received interest from Division I schools this summer was Kyle Starratt. "A couple different schools called us," Whittemore said.
Whittemore said he doesn't expect a a situation to happen with Moody and Starratt that happened with James Nygren last fall. After pitching with Nygren last fall and signing with Oregon State in November, Nygren decided to join the Beaver baseball team this past season as a freshman.
Whittemore noted that Starratt and Moody both had a chance to sign with Division I schools this summer and begin their careers at four-year schools as sophomores, but passed up the opportunity. So he said he expects both Starratt and Moody back for their sophomore years at WNC.
The advantage of staying at WNC for Starratt and Moody is they can sign with a Major League team immediately after next season. If they had gone to a four-year school, they would have had to wait an extra year before they could sign with a Big League club.
"I think he's just the kind of kid that likes to honor his commitment," said Whittemore about Starratt. "He has aspirations of playing professional baseball," added Whittemore about Moody.
Sophomore outfielder Cliff Shepard has also signed with a Division I school as he signed with Centenary in Louisiana.
"That was his goal coming in," said Whittemore about Shepard. "He's certainly worked as hard as anybody else here over the past two years. I'm really excited for him to see him accomplishing his goal."
The biggest surprise as far as who signed with a Division I school was freshman left-handed pitcher James Crockett, who was rarely used by WNC last year. Crockett signed with Southern Utah.
"I just think that James has a lot of upside and they saw that in him," Whittemore said. "He has a great breaking ball and a great frame. They went after him and got him."
The WNC players who recently signed with Division I schools join Carson High graduate Logan Parsley, who signed with the University of Nevada last fall.
Other players moving on is left-handed pitcher/first baseman Andrew Reid, who has signed with Western Oregon, a Division II school in the Salem area. Mesa State, another Division II program in Grand Junction, Colo., recruited Reid, but in the end, the chance to return home won out as Western Oregon is basically Reid's hometown school.
Reid, who can also play the outfield, should be used as a two-way player by Western Oregon.
Josh Creveling, a sophomore pitcher, should also be another two-way player at the next level as he has signed with Harding, a Division II program in Arkansas. Along with pitching, Creveling could be used as a designated hitter, third baseman, first baseman or outfielder.
Creveling's package is 85 percent of a full scholarship. "That's just unheard of in baseball," Whittemore said. "They obviously have big plans for him, big expecations."
Carson High graduate Kevin Schlange, a sophomore shortstop, also received a generous offer from Coker College, a Division II school in South Carolina. WNC's other sophomore shortstop, Kyle Gutchewsky, has signed with Division II New Mexico Highlands.
Whittemore said all of the WNC players moving on should have the chance for considerable playing time right away.
"When you recruit a junior college player you expect them to contribute immediately," Whittemore said.