LITTLE ROCK UALR head baseball coach Scott Norwood signed 11 new players during the fall period, a group consisting of eight junior-college players and local high school standouts Jordan Spears (North Little Rock, Ark./Sylvan Hills), Andrew Hohn (N. Little Rock, Ark./North Little Rock HS) and Marshall Krupka (Rogers, Ark./Rogers HS).
“We’re excited about the guys we signed. I think this is a class that will be able to push us forward. We were able to address some areas of need where we’ll be hit by graduation after this year,” said Norwood. “We’re getting into great junior college programs right now that have a strong interest in our program. At the same time, we were able to sign three very talented in-state players, including two from Little Rock, that will be the cornerstone of our rebuilding efforts.”
Below is a closer look at each of UALR’s 11 signees.
Kansas City, Mo. // Neosho County CC
OF, 6-2, 185 lbs.
Bentley earned All-Jayhawk Conference honors after batting .362 with three home runs and 25 stolen bases as a freshman at Neosho County CC.
Norwood on Bentley “Cameron is a 6.4 runner from the left side of the plate. He is going to let us create a lot of things offensively with his speed. He also has an excellent arm from the outfield and gets great jumps on balls hit to the outfield.”
Neosho County head coach Steve Murry “Bentley served as the catalyst for the Panther offense in 2009 out of the leadoff spot and we look for even more production from him this spring. Bentley is a great kid that sets an example for all of our players on and off the field, and his work ethic is second to none. We are thrilled with his decision on continuing his education and baseball career at UALR.”
Ogden, Kan. // Coffeyville CC
C/OF, 6-0, 190 lbs.
Acosta was named to the Jayhawk Conference All-League Team after hitting .349 with nine homers and 11 stolen bases as a freshman in 2009.
Norwood on Acosta “Hector will provide us with a powerful bat in the middle of the lineup. He can play multiple positions and runs very well for his positions. He comes from an up and coming program in Coffeyville Community College.”
Coffeyville head coach Andy Morgan on Acosta “I am very excited that Hector has signed with UALR. He is a great kid and will fit into their system well. The staff at UALR is doing good things. Hector is a good athlete and has a chance to put up some big numbers offensively. It will be a great fit.”
Mississauga, Ontario // Bossier Parish CC
1B/OF, 6-4, 215 lbs.
Morton hit .342 in his first season at Bossier Parish CC after a standout career at Meadowvale Secondary School, where he was named Male Athlete of the Year in 2005. A three-year starter for the Ontario Blue Jays Elite traveling team, Morton was also a member of the Provincial U-18 Champion Ontario Blue Jays.
Norwood on Morton “Kyle is a very physical first baseman who will provide us with some left-handed power. His best baseball is ahead of him.”
Bossier Parish assistant coach Pat Jolley on Morton “Kyle is a big, physical hitter that will help UALR continue to reach new heights. He has a very mature approach at the plate and has a chance to put up very good offensive numbers. Kyle has shown the type of work ethic needed to succeed and we expect that he will at UALR. I look forward to watching Kyle continue to get better under Scott Norwood and his staff.”
Pflugerville, Texas // Angelina CC
INF, 6-2, 180 lbs.
A middle infielder, Garcia earned a spot in the Texas Junior College All-Star Game as a freshman at Angelina CC after batting .344 with four home runs. A former teammate of current Trojan Jake Rowell at Angelina CC, Garcia was a two-time First Team All-District selection at Pflugerville HS and played in the Austin All-Star Game as a senior.
Norwood on Garcia “I have been high on Greg since the start of his career at Angelina. He was absolutely outstanding at the Texas Junior College All-Star Game. He is going to make a big-time impact for us.”
Angelina head coach Jeff Livin on Garcia “Greg has great instincts and knows the game inside and out. He is an all-around player that creates things for us at the top of the lineup.”
Lawrence, Kan. // Kansas University/Fort Scott CC
RHP, 6-5, 235 lbs.
Boyer posted a 2.00 earned run average over six appearances as a freshman at Kansas University in 2009 before transferring to Fort Scott CC for the upcoming season. As a prep at Free State and Eudora HS, the 6-5 right hander went 23-0 with 159 strikeouts against just 14 walks, and was named to the Lawrence Journal First Team as a junior.
Norwood on Boyer “Kelson is a big, powerful right-handed pitcher. He has had great success at the high school level and had a taste of it last year at Kansas University. We look for him to step in right away and contribute on the mound. He joins current Trojan Jason Houston from an outstanding baseball program at Fort Scott CC led by coach John Hill.”
Fort Scott head coach John Hill on Boyer “Kelson is the type of pitcher that can take your staff to a new level. He is a going to be a huge part of our pitching staff this spring and has already made everyone around him better. UALR just signed one of the best arms in the KJCAA and we are very excited to be a part of what coach Norwood and his staff are building.”
Beggs, Okla. // Connors State College
1B/RHP, 6-4, 215 lbs.
An All-State selection as a senior at Beggs HS, Grimmett went 5-0 with 30 strikeouts over 25 innings of work in his first season at Connors State.
Norwood on Grimmett “I am very excited to have Nick join us at UALR. He can do multiple things for us in the field and on the mound. He was outstanding on the mound as a freshman at Connors State, which is one of the most successful junior colleges in the country.”
Connors State head coach Perry Keith on Grimmett “Nick is a big, athletic, powerful kid with the stick. On the mound he throws an extremely heavy ball and can locate three pitches for a strike.”
Tyler, Texas // Hill College
RHP, 6-1, 170 lbs.
Huffman racked up 60 strikeouts and three saves with a 4.11 earned run average over 56 innings of work as a freshman at Hill College. A standout at Tyler Lee HS, Huffman was a two-time All-State selection, earning honorable mention honors as a junior and Second Team All-State accolades as a senior.
Norwood on Huffman “Blake has absolutely electric stuff. He was a heavily recruited player out of Texas and we feel fortunate to have him. He has a chance to be a very dominate arm in the Sun Belt Conference.”
Hill College head coach Chris Ratieke on Huffman “Blake came in as a very interesting college freshman, throwing very well at two different arm angles. Through Blake’s hard work and desire, he was able to transform himself into one of the top pitchers in the conference with a fastball hitting 90 and knee-buckling stuff. I only expect him to get better as a junior and a senior under the tutelage of the UALR coaching staff.”
Verden, Okla. // Western Oklahoma College
LHP, 6-7, 220 lbs.
Wilson was 3-0 with 38 strikeouts over 23 innings pitched as a freshman at Western Oklahoma College. As a junior at Verden HS, Wilson led the state of Oklahoma in strikeouts.
Norwood on Wilson “Dillon is a big left hander that reminds me of current Trojan Adam Champion. Dillon has gotten better and better during his time at Western. He is going to be a powerful left-handed pitcher for us.”
Western Oklahoma head coach Kurt Russell on Wilson “The sky is the limit for Dillon. He is a big kid with great downward plane on the baseball. He is a great asset for us and will be one for UALR as well.”
North Little Rock, Ark. // Sylvan Hills HS
RHP, 6-5, 220 lbs.
A two-time All-Conference selection at Sylvan Hills HS, Spears went 5-0 with a 2.20 earned run average as a junior.
Norwood on Spears “Jordan has been a target for us from very early in the recruiting process. He is a very powerful right-handed pitcher that comes from a great high school program.”
Sylvan Hills head coach Dennis Tipton on Spears “Jordan is an outstanding young man that is a great asset to any program. He has a great frame and size to him with great stuff also. He competes as good as any kid I have coached.”
North Little Rock, Ark. // North Little Rock HS
OF/LHP, 5-10, 165 lbs.
A two-time All-State selection at North Little Rock HS, Hohn hit .427 with three home runs and 24 RBI as a junior in 2009. The 5-10 outfielder added 17 stolen bases and only struck out twice on the year.
Norwood on Hohn “We look at Andrew as one of the top hitters in the state of Arkansas. He also provides a very live arm from the left side of the mound. He comes from a great high school program and joins Jordan Spears as area kids that will be in a Trojan uniform in 2011.”
North Little Rock head coach Randy Sandefur on Hohn “Andrew is one of the hardest workers I have ever coached. He has been a starter for us since his freshman year in the outfield and on the mound. He is going to be a great asset to UALR baseball.”
Rogers, Ark. // Rogers HS
OF, 6-1, 180 lbs.
Krupka was an All-State selection in 2009 after batting .410 with three home runs and 27 RBI as a junior at Rogers HS.
Norwood on Krupka “Marshall will join Andrew (Hohn) in the outfield for us in 2011. He is also one of the best hitters in the state of Arkansas. His upside is outstanding and he has a chance to contribute right away.”
Rogers head coach Matthew Melson on Krupka “Marshall is a super ball player and a tremendous young man. He excels both on the field and in the classroom. He is a five-tool player who will make an immediate impact at the next level.”