Six Trojans commit to play at Division I levelPublished 8:21pm Tuesday, November 26, 2013
The Central Alabama Trojans are doing things right.
Six players from last season’s NJCAA national championship-winning squad are heading to the next level of collegiate play.
John Michael Knighton headlines the list, as he is heading to Troy University to take the mound for coach Bobby Pierce and the 2013 Sun Belt Conference champions.
The right-hander dominated for Central Alabama during his campaign, going 10-1 for CACC coach Wynn Fletcher’s squad. He posted a 2.66 ERA and racked up 84 strikeouts during the year.
For his efforts, he earned first-team All-State and All-ACCC honors. He was also a third-team NJCAA All-American selection.
Also moving to the D-I stage are Ethan Hunt, Matthew Norton, Jess Smith, Alex Lee and Ryan Raspino.
Lee, one of the CACC Trojans’ big bats this year, is going to suit up for Samford. Lee batted .375 for Central Alabama last season.
He was also among the team leaders in doubles with 15 and compiled a .988 fielding percentage.
Norton and Hunt committed to the University of West Georgia. Both hurlers were key in the Trojans’ run in Grand Junction, Colo.
Norton was 4-3 on the season, with a 3.15 ERA. He threw two complete games.
Hunt posted a 2-1 record during the year and struck out the second-most batters for the Trojans (46).
Raspino, who is heading to South Alabama and thus could find himself in the batter’s box against Knighton one day,hit .273 this past season.
He also had a .930 fielding percentage.
Smith will play at the University of North Alabama.
“If guys continually move on to play at the Division I level, then you’re doing something right,” said CACC baseball coach Wynn Fletcher. “We had six guys commit, and we’ve got others who have been offered but haven’t made a decision yet, so we had a pretty good team.”
Fletcher said seeing the high amount of players sign to four-year schools or move on to play pro ball is always the goal as coach.
“I think it’s the goal of all coaches at the junior college level,” Fletcher said. “You want to build those relationships with the four-year programs and the pro scouts. In my seven years here, we’ve had people go everywhere. Whether ACC, SEC, NAIA, mid-Division I programs or Division II, we’ve covered every level.”
Now the task for Fletcher and Central Alabama is to reload as they attempt to replace the talent that helped fuel them to a NJCAA World Series victory.
Fletcher said he felt confident in the players currently on the team, saying that a championship-caliber season is definitely in the future for CACC if the players can go out and take care of business when the chance presents itself.
“We’re really fortunate to get the players that we got,” Fletcher said. We’ve got good players, and we think they have what it takes to do what we did last year, but things have to line up for us. Last season, a lot of things went our way. I’m proud of the team for taking advantage of that momentum, but now we have to make our own. This team is going to have to find its identity.”