It will be the biggest day yet for the Western Nevada College baseball program as far as players moving on to the Division I level.
Five WNC sophomores who will all play for the Wildcats in 2009 will sign with Division I programs in a signing ceremony today, the first day of the fall signing period. The signing ceremony will be held at noon today at WNC's Dini Student Center.
Brian Barnett, who committed to the University of Nevada this past summer, and Josh Moody, who committed to Arizona State this past summer, will both sign. Joining them will be Kyle Starratt and Jerome Pena, who will both sign with TCU, and Logan Odom, who will sign with USC.
All five are set to begin their careers at Division I as juniors in 2010, although there's the potential that Moody and Barnett could sign with Major League teams after the 2009 season.
A sixth WNC player also will sign today as Wildcat outfielder Marshall Kennebrew will sign with NAIA Point Loma. Kennebrew will still have the option to sign with a Division I program in the spring if he receives attention from Division I schools.
WNC coach D.J. Whittemore said Kennebrew and Wildcat pitcher Javy Perez both have the potential to end up at Division I schools if they have a strong spring.
"That's what I'm hearing," he said. "I've had some solid confirmation that that's the case.
"If they have tremendous years I think they both have some qualities that could attract some attention from Division I schools. It's just a matter of putting it together for a whole season."
Moody, a left-handed pitcher, was drafted in the 29th round of the Major League draft last year by the Atlanta Braves and all indications are it's highly likely that Moody will be able to sign with a Major League team in 2009.
Whittemore said the same could be true for Barnett. "Barnett's going to get drafted this year," said Whittemore about the McQueen graduate, an outfielder with outstanding power.
Starratt, a pitcher, and Pena a versatile performer who can play virtually anywhere will be signing with a TCU program that has been the Mountain West Conference's top team for the past several years. A huge selling point for Starratt is the fact that TCU has had two pitchers drafted in the first round in the last three years. Pena, who is an excellent outfielder with a strong arm, can be used by TCU as an outfielder or infielder.
Odom was recruited to USC to play in the Pac 10 as a pitcher after a strong showing in the Scenic West Athletic Conference sophomore showcase this fall. There's also a connection with WNC as USC pitching coach Tom House has a relationship with WNC pitching coaches Dennis Banks and Kevin Edwards.
Odom has a fastball that consistently runs from 89-91 miles an hour and reaches 93. "He's a great guy to dream on," Whittemore said. "There's not a lot of 6 foot 6, 250-pounders out there."
At least two other WNC players could end up at Division I schools in infielders Lance Ray and Travis Feiner, who have both received offers from New Mexico State. Feiner has also received an offer from Division II Dixie State in St. George, Utah. Whittemore said either could sign this fall or wait until the spring.
WNC pitcher Javy Perez will make visits to Southern California NAIA programs Vanguard and Point Loma, both of whom have made Perez offers. Whittemore said Perez could also sign this fall.
Two other WNC players, outfielders Brett Moravec and Mike Long, should receive interest in the spring.
"They just have to go and prove they are as improved as we think they are," Whittemore said.
Whittemore said WNC pitcher Kyle DiMartino will receive interest from Division II schools as well.
As far as WNC's recruiting class for 2010, the Wildcats have already received verbal commitments from several of Northern Nevada's top players. Damonte Ranch shortstop Cody Stevens, Douglas pitcher Tyler May and Manogue pitchers Ryan Baker and Casey Schapper have all committed to WNC.
Whittemore said WNC has also made scholarship offers to catcher Shawn Walters and pitcher Tom Jamison, both of Reno High. He added WNC is also recruiting Reed shortstop-pitcher Casey Yocum.
In addition, WNC has received commitments from three other players, left-handed hitting first baseman-outfielder-right handed pitcher Taylor Doyle and pitcher Cody Gordon both of Las Vegas and left-handed hitting third baseman Kevin Taylor of Portland.
Whittemore said Taylor is a Pac 10 level player, but hasn't cleared the NCAA Clearinghouse.
Players who have committed to WNC can sign with the school in January. Whittemore said he expects to have 10 to 14 players committed to his program by Thanksgiving.
Carson High's Brandi Vega has verbally committed to Washington State in women's soccer and will sign with the school in February.
Two Douglas High athletes will sign with Division II schools today. Volleyball player Megan Mitchell will sign with Division II power Lees-McRae of North Carolina and pitcher Stephanie Harper will sign in softball with Concord of West Virginia.
Two Yerington volleyball players should also move on to the next level. Kayla Lommori, arguably the state's best all-around player, has verbally committed to Santa Clara, but is undecided on when she'll sign. Ross, a setter, is also being recruited at the Division II level.
The signing period for football won't be until February but two area football players to keep an eye on are Douglas lineman Parker Robertson and Manogue running back Josh DuPree. Both are listed among the state's top 50 football players by recruiting services.