Nov. 28, 2012
BEAUMONT – The Lamar baseball team is expecting a pretty strong year with a number of returning starters for the 2013 season, and head coach Jim Gilligan thinks the 2014 campaign is prime for success as well after announcing the addition of nine players during the NCAA Early Signing Period.
“As a whole, every player that we signed is going to come in and help right away,” Gilligan said. “With as many guys as we’re going to lose, it was really important that we brought some big players in. We’re going to have a pretty good pitching staff coming back, but with the kids we have right now, we might be done recruiting pitchers. I don’t think I’ve ever said that at this time of the year.”
Four pitchers have committed to wearing the red and white in 2014, including two from area high schools. The first is Jacob Howell of Deweyville. The 6-3 right-hander is coming off an outstanding season for the Pirates, finishing with a 5-3 record over 54 innings with 136 strikeouts. Brandon Humphrey of Little Cypress-Mauriceville will also make the short trek to Beaumont. As a junior last spring, the 6-4 right-hander earned Second Team All-District honors.
“Howell has a lot of room to get bigger and stronger,” Gilligan said. “We like him as is, but he can really be special. He’s a good local kid. Humphrey is a another kid where the potential is unlimited, and both these kids are going to be guys who can get innings, and they’ll be able to do it with a staff that has a lot of experience.”
Also joining the staff will be Daniel Fernandez and Matthew Johnson, who will each enter with two years of eligibility after playing on the junior college level. Fernandez, a 6-3 right-hander, pitched 26 innings with a 2.65 ERA last season for North Central Texas College and originally hails from Nassau Bay, Texas. Johnson is a 6-1 left-hander, and he helped Cisco College to top four ranking in 2012 before transferring to Richland College this season.
“Johnson is just a good junior college lefty, and he’s going to add a lot to our staff,” Gilligan said. “Fernandez has a nice fastball and good secondary stuff.”
In the field, the Cardinals will be adding three junior college signees and a pair of standout high schoolers.
Bryant Motl will join the squad from nearby East Chambers after hitting .538 a year ago with 10 runs batted in and 11 steals. Adrian Castano will have the longest trip to the Golden Triangle of all the signees as he is coming from Benjamin N. Cardozo High School in Queens, N.Y. He is coming off a strong season with the Judges, hitting .424 to earn All-City and All-Queens honors.
“Castano is a great kid, and I think he could play lead-off for us right now,” Gilligan said. “Motl is a guy with tremendous athletic ability. He can really run and he’s got power, so I like the physical ability that we’re bringing in with those two.”
Cameron Allerheilingen is the first of the transfers, and the Keller native had an outstanding debut season with Weatherford College, hitting .300 en route to earning all-conference and All-Star honors.
Reed Seeley was also strong in his first year at Howard College, boasting of a .357 average with 12 doubles and 36 RBI. The Baytown native was twice named All-State while playing for Lee High School.
Tyler Sullivan rounds out the class, and he enters from Galveston College. Last season, he hit .254, but his patience at the plate was excellent, earning 23 walks and carrying a .390 on-base percentage.
“Seely, Allerheilngen and Sullivan can help put some meat back in that lineup after we lose some guys after next year,” Gilligan explained. “Seely can play third base and we hope he can take over offensively where some of our current guys leave off. Allerheilingen is a guy who can play first or DH, and Sullivan is an excellent defensive first baseman. He’s another Friendswood kid. I think he has room to grow, and he might become one of our best defensive first basemen in a while.”