Turner Fritts becomes the 10th Missouri Bull player to sign to play baseball at Southeast Missouri State in the programs 8 years. The 4 year varsity player from Poplar Bluff becomes the 3rd Mule to sign with the Redhawks, following in the footsteps of Wesley Pyles (13') and Kameron Misner (16'). "It's a dream come true to be able to play close to home", said Fritts.
Fritts,a 4 year starter for the Mules, earned All District and All Conference honors last season as a junior. He enters his senior season with a career .315 batting average and defensively is one of the best infielders in the area. "We have a great chance to go far this year and I'm looking forward to playing my senior season with no pressure now that I've signed", said Turner.
"Having the opportunity to play at Southeast Missouri State is a big deal for me and my family because my parents love attending my games. Playing college baseball close to home means they have the same opportunity as they've had all my life", said a smiling Fritts.
Turner played last summer for the Bulls between his sophmore and junior year at Bluff. The Missouri Bulls 17u team was very talented and played in some very good events against some very good competition, most with college scouts in the stands. "My experience with the Missouri Bulls was awesome. I had great teammates and we were very competitive but we had a lot of fun. We played in front of a lot of college coaches on some great college fields. Without the exposure I got last summer, I'm not sure I would be putting on a Redhawks jersey next fall", Fritts said.
Todd Pennington has known Turner for quite a few years and after coaching him last summer knew colleges would be all over him. "He can really swing the bat. If you can hit you can play at the D1 level. Southeast and Coach Sawyers got themselves a great kid', Coach Pennington said.
Fritts had quite a few schools reaching out but the decision was pretty easy after one visit to SEMO. "None of the colleges I visited made me feel like the coaching staff here at Southeast. It made my decision easy. I just want to say thank you to my parents, family and all the coaches and players who helped me and pushed me to make my dream of playing college baseball a reality", Fritts said.
Kameron Misner has played with the Lids Missouri Bulls since the summer of his 8th grade year. He always played up a level and always wanted to be challenged. Choosing to play at the University of Missouri over many other choices shows he still is looking for that challenge.
"The Bulls had a showcase up at Mizzou last summer and I fell in love with the place," said Misner. "I had a good weekend and the coaches talked to my parents and I. The coaches said they wanted me to be a Tiger. I had some great offers from other schools but something about playing in the SEC against the best players in the country is what it really came down to."
Kameron signed his official letter of intent on signing day November 11th but he committed months ago. "Baseball is my true passion", said Misner. I like football and other sports but my future is in baseball so my senior year I went all in and that's been my focus."
Misner drew lots of interest from colleges all around the mid-west. Ole Miss, Western Illinois, SLU, SIU and Southeast Mo State just to name a few but in the end he really like the coaches at Missouri and the facilities. "Their field and their facilities are awesome", said Misner. "I can't wait to get there next summer and start working."
Misner has had a great high school career. As a sophmore in 2014, he was named All-SEMO Conference Honorable Mention outfielder and Honorable Mention All-District. He batted .333, had a 2-0 record on the mound with 1 save and an ERA of 1.16.
As a junior in 2015, Misner was named to the All-SEMO Conference First Team and First Team All-District. He had a fielding % that was perfect, batted .421 and was 7-0 with 1 save on the bump with a 1.28 ERA.
With his college choice in the rear view mirror, he can enjoy his senior season and go after that ultimate prize of a state championship. No doubt he'd like to help his Mules win the big prize.
The Bulls will miss him as he's been a staple since the summer of 2012. "The best thing about being involved in a program like the Bulls is watching kids like Kameron move on to play college baseball", said Mitch Wood, director of player personnel for the Bulls. "Great family and a great kid, he's been a pleasure to coach that's for sure."
"I am so grateful to the Lids Missouri Bulls program", said Misner. "I played my entire high school season for one organization and I couldn't have picked a better one. The coaches were great and we played at a lot of cool places. Each and every weekend, regardless of where we played, we had college coaches in the stands. Some of my best baseball memories will be summer baseball with the Bulls."
"Athletes like Kameron don't come around everyday", said Glenn Campbell, Director of the Bulls. "He has so much God given talent and he works his butt off to make sure he gets the most out of his gift. He is a very good baseball player and the sky is the limit. As good a player as he is, he's an even better person."
Chase Urhahn and his buddies at Notre Dame just won the Class 4A State Tournament, winning 17-0 in the final game. He's now ready to join his buddy Josh Haggerty at Mineral Area College. I'm sure he'll show him that championship metal that alluded their team the year before.
Like his buddy Josh, Chase won "Player of the Year" for top Baseball player in the area for 2014/2015. "It was an honor to win the award like Josh did last year," Urhahn said. "There are so many great players in the area and even on my high school team, I just feel very humbled to win it."
That is back to back awards for Notre Dame coach Jeff Graviett. "Both Josh and Chase deserve the credit, said Graviett. They both worked very hard and led their teams to very good seasons their senior years. They are great kids. I'd also like to acknowledge the Lids Missouri Bulls. The organization and their coaches deserve credit as well as both of these kids played 3 plus years for the Bulls during the summer."
Both of these Missouri Bulls are burners in the outfield so it's anyone's guess as to who will play where but one things for sure this duo will be as good as any in the area. They both are quick, they both track balls very well and both can handle the lumber. It will be fun to see how these two guys do together for Mineral Area College in 2015/2016.
"Chase is a very nice player who got better each year, said Glenn Campbell, Director of the Missouri Bulls. He played four summers for the Bulls and there was no doubt he had the talent to play college baseball. We wish him luck and look forward to seeing what the new chapter brings for him."
Charleston, Missouri native and former Missouri Bull James Naile had just finished his best season as a college pitcher. The red shirt junior was just one year removed from Tommy John surgery and had enough credits t0 graduate from UAB. What he didn't have was assurance that he'd be drafted.
He finished his junior season with a 9-3 record, 2.86 ERA and 83 strike outs. If that wasn't impressive enough, he held opponents to a .196 batting average which led all Conference USA pitchers. He was named 1st team All Conference, only the 16th in UAB history.
The UAB Blazers had a great late season run but the year ended short of Omaha so Naile cleaned out his locker and was waiting to see if his name would be called during the MLB draft.
His dream came true when the Oakland A's selected him with the 608th overall pick in the 20th round.
"It's a dream come true", said Naile. "I have played baseball since I was little and I've worked hard. I always dreamed of playing in the big leagues, now I have a chance. I am honored to have this opportunity to play for the Oakland Athletics."
Naile played for the Lids Mo Bulls first team back in 2010-2011. Eight players off that first team went on to play college baseball but only Naile has been drafted.
"The Bulls started their program at a good time for me. I needed to see competition outside the area", said Naile. Without the Bulls and some of my previous opportunities this would not be possible. I am grateful to the Bulls organization, it's coaches and all the players I played with through those years."
"James was and is one of the most talented players to come through our program", said Glenn Campbell, Director fro the Lids Missouri Bulls. "Mitch Wood and I coached that team and James was as good at the plate and in the field as he was on the mound. No one worked harder or prepared more than he did. It's no surprise at all he's had the success he's had."
The Lids Missouri Bulls started their program 6 years ago because there wasn't a lot of players in the area getting looked at by colleges to play baseball. The program targeted players who's ambition was to play baseball on some college level.
"The Missouri Bulls pointed me in the right direction to help get me exposed to college coaches and help me be successful in my pursuit to play college baseball", said Naile. "We played against some unbelievable teams and players and I think it really helped take my game to another level. God has given me many blessings and the Missouri Bulls program was one of them. I'm looking forward to heading to Phoenix and start my professional career."
Mitch Wood who is in the Missouri Baseball Hall of Fame and one of the main people involved in starting the Missouri Bulls coached against Naile in high school while he was at Oran and Naile was at Charleston. "He was as good as any kid I've ever coached against", said Wood. When he was on the mound you knew runs would be hard to come by. He could swing the bat and he could play defense. He was a very talented kid for sure. I wish him the best as he starts his pro career."
So do the rest of the Bulls and for that matter anyone who knows him. He comes from a great family and he's a special kid. Oakland got a steal when they got him in the 20th round!!
Andy Lack is all smiles as he hold his MVP and championship trophies
Andy Lack can't remember a summer that he hasn't played baseball. He did it in little league, he did it through high school and now he is doing it during his college playing days as well.
"I haven't had much time off, that's for sure," laughed Lack as I spoke to him via cell phone a day after winning the Futures League Championship for the Worcester Bravehearts. "It was a heck of an ending to a great summer!!"
Every young kid who plays baseball dreams about games like this: Bottom of the 10th, score tied, runner on 3rd with 2 outs. On the line is a chance to advance in your league championship and you are at the plate. You are playing in front of your home crowd and the place is going crazy in anticipation of what might happen. On the mound, the opponent's closer is hitting above 90 on the radar gun. That's was the scene 2 weeks ago for Andy Lack.
Andy Lack was the star of that game for the Worcester Bravehearts. He came through with the 2 out game-winning hit that sent the Bravehearts to Martha's Vineyard for the championship series.
His fairytale didn't end there, in the first game of the double elimination championship, Lack worked his first at bat to a full count before slamming a 3 run homer that gave the Bravehearts a 5-0 lead. They ended up winning that game 5-2, one game away from the championship.
Before the championship game, Lack was awarded Defensive Player of the Year by the league's commissioner. "My batting average didn't end up where I wanted it to for the summer," Lack said. "I hit balls hard all summer but right at people, that's baseball. I have always prided myself on my defense no matter how good or bad my offense is going. It meant a lot for me to be honored as the Defensive Player of the Year for the entire league."
As for the championship game, he left his mark on that one too. The game was scoreless until Andy got a two out hit in the 6th. He stole second base on the first pitch. On the next pitch he anticipated a breaking ball and swiped 3rd. The very next pitch was slapped towards second base, Lack scored as the 2nd baseman couldn't make the play. That ended up being the only offense of the night and the Bravehearts would end up winning the game 1-0 and the Championship.
After the game, Lack was awarded 2 more trophies. One being his team's championship trophy, the other for being the playoff's MVP.
Lack doesn't take anything for granted and even though he knows he may have been in the right place at the right time, he also knows he's worked his butt off to get to where he is today.
Lack played high school baseball for the Kennett Indians in his hometown. He played 3 years during his high school summers with the Lids Missouri Bulls amateur baseball team and now spends his summers in places thousands of miles from home.
For the past three summers, Lack has traveled the country living out of a suitcase and staying with host families. First, he played in Ohio and surrounding states in the Great Lakes League in 2012. Last year, he was in Seattle in the West Coast League. This year, he traveled the East Coast with the Bravehearts.
Playing in those summer leagues, he said, is different than anything he's ever experienced.
"It's definitely different than the Bulls," laughed Lack. "I've always loved summer baseball and the travel part of it but the last three summers have been amazing. Meeting new people, making new friends, I wouldn't trade it for anything."
In talking with Lack, it's hard not to get a sense of humility as he lives out his dream of playing baseball across America but he does miss home and his parents, family and friends.
"I'd be lying if I said I wasn't ready to get back to Missouri and see family and friends", said Lack. "As much as I love playing baseball it does get lonely sometimes. I know I'm blessed to be able play baseball at this level and I also know nothing lasts forever. So, I try to enjoy each and every game. I try to play the game as hard as I can and respect the game, but it can defintely be hard playing 100 plus games a year."
Such humility helps Andy look forward to a future potentially without baseball. While many players get lost when their careers are over, Lack is a realist. When I asked where he see's himself after college he says.
"I'm going to worry about my junior year at Southeast Missouri State. We have a conference title to defend and I don't want to get too far ahead of myself. But, if I am lucky enough to get drafted then I'll do everything I can at the next level to be the best. Regardless I will have my degree and the many firendships and relationships I've built along the way. That's something that can never be taken away." said Lack.
For now, Lack is back with his teammates in Cape Girardeau, starting classes and getting back in his regular routine. It won't be long before that routine will include a glove, bat and a ball but hasn't it always?!
Chase Hagerty just started his senior year at Cape Central HS. He has been the Ace for the Cape Central Tigers baseball team since he was a freshman. He has also been one of the top pitchers for the Missouri Bulls baseball team since then.
He has played football and basketball for his high school but his dream was to play college baseball. This week his dream of playing Division I college baseball came true. He committed to Southeast Missouri State earlier this week.
Southeast Missouri State cannot comment on this, they could only confirm that he indeed did commit. November 12th is national signing day an that's when it will become offical.
"I had quite a few colleges that were talking to me", said Hagerty. "Thanks to the coaches and the Bulls organization because they really helped as far as getting me and the other players exposure. We played in front of college coaches every weekend and the last weekend of the year there must have been 20 colleges there to watch us play, it was great."
Hagerty started playing for the Lids Missouri Bulls when he was a freshman and was always one of the top arms in the program. He has gotten better each and every year and really started to draw some attention this past summer.
"He has worked hard and it really showed late this summer", said Todd Pennington, head coach for the Bulls 17u team. "He had good command of his fastball which he threw in the upper 80's and his slider has really become his best pitch. He's got a nice change up and is working on a splitter. He has tremendous upside and he still has another year of high school!"
Hagerty had offers from Western Illinois, Missouri State, Murray State and numerous Junior Colleges but in the end he chose to stay close to home.
"I really liked some of the other programs and the coaches but in the end I liked coach Bieser and his staff", said Hagerty. "They are all business and I think they will push me. I like where the program is headed and I wanted to be part of it."
He'll get his chance next fall as he'll join three other Missouri Bulls players who are on the Southeast Missouri State baseball team. Junior Andy Lack from Kennett, Junior Brady Wright from Anna, Illinois and Wesley Pyles from Poplar Bluff who will be a freshman.
"We sound like a broken record but our goal is to get our players as much exposure as we possibly can to college coaches", said Glenn Campbell, director of the Lids Missouri Bulls. "The credit goes to the coaches and to these kids who work hard and do things the right way. Chase worked hard and he is seeing it pay off with a college scholarship to play division 1 baseball in his hometown."
Chase Hagerty becomes the 36th player for the Bulls organization to get a scholarship to play college baseball.
The transition from starting pitcher at Anna-Jonesboro High School to reliever in college has been a good one for Brady Wright.
The 6-foot-3, 210-pound hurler recorded 12 saves, which was third in the nation, at Rend Lake College as a freshman in 2013. He transferred to Southeast Missouri State University to play Division I baseball this past season.
Wright led the Redhawks in saves with six, and he also accumulated a 3-0 record with a 3.67 ERA. The sophomore appeared in 24 games on the mound, which was tied for the team lead as well.
“At the beginning of the year I was behind quite a few guys in the bullpen, and I was able to put up pretty good numbers midway through the year,” Wright said. “My role just kept increasing, and it was a pretty good year for me despite a few bad outings. But it was an awesome year for the team in general.”
SEMO was picked to finish sixth in the Ohio Valley Conference. The voters obviously dropped the ball there because the Redhawks won the regular season conference championship.
“We returned pretty much our whole lineup from the year before I got there, and we had two of the best hitters in the country in Matt Tellor and Derek Gibson. We brought in a lot of new pitchers and some JUCO guys that no one ever really knew about.”
Wright was on the mound when SEMO defeated Tennessee Tech, the preseason favorite, to win the OVC championship.
“There was a huge dog pile, and it was just unreal,” Wright said. “They were a really good team and it was a great moment for us. They were the best offense in the country, statistically.”
The OVC tournament didn’t go as well for the Redhawks. Jacksonville State ended up winning it and moving on to the NCAA Regional. But it was still a terrific season for the Redhawks.
Wright has gotten used to pitching out of the pen, and he’s enjoying it. The unpredictability of knowing he could pitch at any time is thrilling.
“It’s a huge difference having to be prepared to pitch every day,” Wright said. “It is really exciting, especially throwing in big situations during the late innings. I actually enjoy it more than probably pitching once a week.”
Although he plans on remaining a relief pitcher, Wright is working on adding a changeup to go along with his fastball and slider.
“I’m pretty much locked in as a reliever,” Wright said. “I don’t really have the three-pitch makeup or the mechanics of a starting pitcher. I am trying to work on a changeup, and hopefully that will work better against the left-handed hitters if I can get it down. The main thing is staying locked in every single game.”
Wright is looking forward to his junior season at SEMO. The team finished 37-20 this year, and he believes it has a chance to be good once again.
“We lose a couple big bats, but hopefully we’ll be able to repeat as conference champions,” Wright said. “Hopefully, I can work myself up to a late inning role again next season. I just need to stay away from the one big, bad outing. If I can do that it should be a great year.”
This summer, Wright is playing for the North Shore Navigators of the Future Collegiate Baseball League in Lynn, Massachusetts. He’s staying in Marblehead, which is right next to the Atlantic Ocean and about 15 miles northeast of Boston. He’ll return to SEMO in August.
February 12, 2014
Aiden McMahan made it official Wednesday when he signed his letter to play baseball just up the road at Rend Lake College.
"I'm excited to play for Coach Etnier and his staff," McManhan said. "It's great that my parents will be able to watch a lot of my games as it's only about an hour from our house."
McMahan is looking forward to his senior season and hopes that his high school team can make it back to state again and maybe win it all this year.
Ross James has been playing baseball since he can remember. He pitched in a district game as a freshman at Notre Dame HS and started a district championship game as a sophomore. Not too many pitchers can tout that at Notre Dame. Ask him and he'll just shrug his shoulder as he isn't much for words, he lets his right arm talk for him. He has ice in his veins and nothing seems to bother him.
"He's a cool customer for sure," said Notre Dame head baseball coach Jeff Graviett "He has come up big for us many times in his career at Notre Dame and has played varsity his entire career. His best pitch is his curveball but he's worked hard to develop his fastball. He'll start the season as our Ace and that's saying a lot with the talent we have this year."
James played his last three summers for the Lids Missouri Bulls where he pitched against compeition that he wouldn't have seen locally if he had played Legion baseball. "The Bulls play all over the place against great competition," said James. "I'm sure my record would have benn better if I had played Legion baseball but I learned so much about myself pitching against other kids that will be playing college baseball. The coaches were awesome and the experience helped me no doubt."
That experience and his hard work paid off as he has officially commited to playing baseball this fall for the Birmingham Southern Panthers, a Division III program located in Alabama.
"I wanted to play baseball and I wanted to play where it was a little warmer," said James. It was a tough decision because I had other offers but it came down to me liking the school, the town and especially the coaching staff. Coach Weisberg seems like a great guy and they have a solid program."
The head coach of the Panthers, Jan Weisberg, is a graduate of the University of Kentucky and is entering his 6th season for Birmingham Southern. His squad has owned the Southern Athletic Association conference the last 5 seasons and he has a record of 150-52. "We don't get a lot of Missouri kids coming here to play for us, " said Weisberg. "Most kids are from Alabama, Florida, Georgia and Tennessee. We saw Ross pitch and liked what we saw."
His Missouri Bulls head coach, Todd Pennington is surprised he stayed on the market this long. "Ross had a great summer for us," said Pennington. "He had a couple games where he was unhittable. He has some things to work on like all young pitchers but with his size and that curveball, the sky is the limit."
James not only excels on the mound but he excels in the classroom, something his parents stressed to him through his high school years. "My mom and dad always expected me to get good grades and now I understand why," said James. "It afforded me so many other opportunities that just my athletic skill alone wouldn't have gotten me."
"Kids don't realize how important grades and SAT/ACT scores are," said Mitch Wood, director of player development for the Bulls. "There are only a handfull of shcolarships schools can give out and depending on budgets there is a limited amount of athletic money available. If you have the grades and test scores, you open up so many more doors for yourself. That's exactly what Ross did and we're proud of him."
He's just glad the decision is over and now he can concentrate on the upcoming high school season. "We should be pretty tough," said James. "All the pressure is off now, I just want to enjoy the season and help my team win it all."
Lids Missouri Bulls Player/Parent meeting is set for Sunday January 27th
Oran High School Gymnasium
**Noon-1pm--merchandise sales/ 1pm meeting starts
The Lids Missouri Bulls mandatory player/parent meeting will be held at the Oran High School gym on Sunday January 27th. Please mark taht date on your calendars.
Lids merchandise will be on display for sale starting at noon until 1pm, meeting will start at 1pm. Meeting will last an hour or so with a couple of coaches talking and just general Bulls business.
After the meeting around 2pm or so, we will break out into your teams and talk with your coaches. Also get sizing for uniform ordering.
Please email Glenn Campbell at firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions.
The Missouri Bulls held their annual Player/Parent meeting on Sunday January 8th at the Oran high school gymnasium. In attendance were players from all the Bulls teams ages 11u through 18u, over 75 players were on hand along with their parents.
The players and parents were able to buy some new Missouri Bulls apparel and were treated to some great advice our four guest speakers.
Former Sikeston standout and current Chicago Cubs player, Blake DeWitt, was the first to step to the podium. Blake was drafted in the first round of the MLB draft in 2004 out of high school by the Los Angeles Dodgers. His advice to the kids and their parents was to work hard, enjoy your high school years and play mulitple sports if you are able. "Playing more than one sport can actually make you a better, more well rounded athlete," DeWitt said. At 26, Blake is an inspiriation to anyone who dreams of playing professional baseball.
Next to the microphone was former Scott City standout, Scott Little. Scott was a three sport, All-State athlete in highschool. He went on to play for Missouri and Mineral Area Colleges before being drafted by the New York Mets in the 7th round in 1984. Little made it to the pros with the Pittsburg Pirates and ended up coaching and playing for over 17 years in professional baseball at all levels. He moved back to the area five years ago where he has been a scout for the Los Angeles Dodgers organization.
Scott's message was spoken from his heart and from personal experience with his ups and downs in the game of baseball. "Stay focused, concentrate on your studies and work your butt off!!" Don't do what I did and try to skate through classes. I was lucky that I made it in baseball with the path I chose. If you're not focused, not disciplined, school and other things can get away from you in a hurry and turn your dreams of playing baseball upside down. I know, I lived it," Little said.
Coach Joe Scarano, assistant baseball coach and recruting coordinator for Three Rivers College was our 3rd speaker. Coach Scarano played baseball at Massachusetts State College where he was a 4 year starter. He has coached at the college level the past seven years and landed in Poplar Bluff last year. He spoke about some of the differences between Junior College and Division I baseball programs as far as scholarships and recruiting. He spoke to the importance of grades and how starting at a junior college is a great opportunity for kids and a stepping stone to move on to a division I school or even the pro's.
Closing out the program was Southeast Missouri State Universities baseball coach Mark Hogan. Coach Hogan is starting his 17th season at Southeast and his 30th in total as a Division I head coach. He has amassed over 800 total wins, 502 of them as skipper of the Redhawks. As always, coach Hogan had some great advice as to what he looks for when he looks for players. "I like to get to the ball parks early and watch players get off the bus or out of their cars. You can tell almost as much about a player watching him get off the buss and warm up as you can when they play. I already know a kid can play if I'm there watching him, I am looking for the intangibles that you don't see in the stats," said coach Hogan. His advice to parents, "Stay out of it! Enjoy the game from the stands and stay out of your kids ear. The game of baseball is stressful enough without the parents being in a kid's ear every time he does something."
The Bulls also had all of their coaches on hand as well as their board of directors. The coaches for the Bulls in 2012 will be:
18u--Todd Pennington, Kody Campbell
16u--Matt Wagner, Drew Pixley
15u--Joe Bickings, Jeff Graviett
14u--Matt Bucher, Ben Walters
13u--Scott Siebert, Tim Rodgers
12u--Jim Talley, Jeff Shively, Eric Priggel
11u--Trent Wise, Paul Lynch
The board of directors: Glenn Campbell-President, Mitch Wood-Vice president, Ryne Wood-Secretary, Matt Bucher--finance, Jeff Lack, Chris Janet and Jeff Graviett.
Thanks to all that attended and to our guest speakers for a great afternoon. A great way to kick of the 2012 year as the Lids Missouri Bulls will field eight teams this summer, up from five teams last summer.