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Baseball adds four more commitments to transfer list

April 19, 2016

MARTINSVILLE, Va. — The Patrick Henry Community College (PHCC) baseball team continued adding to its transfer list with the signings of four more players.

Rashad Stewart, Kemper Terry, Yashuan Santiago and Miguel Lopez recently signed their letters of intent to continue their academics and athletics at four-year schools. They join NCAA, Division I transfers Jack Maynard, Jonah McReynolds and Ryan Coale as others who have made commitments to further their respective careers.

Terry, who transferred to PHCC from NCAA, Division I Longwood University, will return to the Big South Conference as a member of the Liberty University Flames. Stewart is set to play for NCAA, Division II Winston Salem State University of the Center Intercollegiate Athletic Association, while Santiago and Lopez continue on together to Bryan College (Tenn.), a member of the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA).

Patriots coach Frank Jagoda said it was another positive step for the program as a whole. The recent crop also displayed the diversity and conscious effort of the coaching staff to make sure that the players’ futures were in line with their goals, Jagoda added.

“It shows that in the recruiting process we are going to look out for the best interest of recruits and student-athletes at all times, whether it’s Division I, II or III, or NAIA,” Jagoda said. “Whether it’s in the state of North Carolina or Virginia, up north, down south, it doesn’t matter; we want what’s best for our players at all times.”

Terry, a native of Collinsville, Va. and graduate of Bassett High School, hopes to make the most of a second chance in Division I baseball. His transfer to PHCC for the 2015-16 season added quality depth to the Patriots bullpen, a vital component to possibly winning a region championship in May.

Terry has struck out 31 batters in 26 2/3 innings worked this season, allowing 15 hits and 13 walks. He’s appeared in 16 games, starting two, with an ERA of 2.70 and 3-0 record. Terry said that Liberty coaches showed up to one of the games earlier this season and liked his velocity and command. Over the course of the spring, the left hander said he’s been able to develop better pitch control.

“I think I’ll be more prepared and know what it’s going to be like,” Terry said of returning to the Big South Conference. “I look at it as another great opportunity for me.”

Stewart has seen great progression in his two years with the Patriots program. The middle infielder from Dinwiddie, Va. has been a catalyst for the PHCC offense this season, scoring a team-high 60 runs. With a team-high .428 batting average through 45 games, Stewart handles leadoff duties efficiently. He has a .508 on-base percentage along with a .667 slugging percentage and the ability to hit for power as seen through his 18 doubles and six home runs of his 68 hits.

Stewart said the proximity of the school to his home was a factor in his decision, allowing his mom to travel to see as many games as possible. The second baseman added that Winston Salem State was drawn to his athletic ability and leadership qualities.

“My play has all come together like it should be. I can think about the game more and know situations better than before,” Stewart said. “My two years (at PHCC) helped me out a lot.”

As for Santiago and Lopez, the ability to move on together to the countryside of Dayton, Tenn. is a unique situation. Jagoda said it should be a great opportunity for the pair to further their education and athletic endeavours like they did at PHCC. The Puerto Rican teammates are good friends on and off the field, and Santiago added that it’s special to continue their friendship at a new school.

“It’s always fun to go somewhere new and meet a new guys, and new coaches,” Santiago said. “It’s nice to have another opportunity with another team to chase a dream.”

As the Patriots’ No. 2 weekend starter over the last two seasons, Santiago had a stellar freshman campaign and has started to regain some of that form lately. He has 68 strikeouts in 48 innings of work. Lopez has been a key setup and middle guy in the bullpen. He has 21 strikeouts to eight walks in his 13 1/3 innings this season. Both pitchers said they look to compete for starting roles but will do everything to be a team-first player.

“I want to prepare myself to play at the next level, hopefully the professional league, and I’m really looking forward to working hard (at Bryan),” Lopez said. I’m going to use the summer to prepare for what I want at Bryan.”

Jagoda said he looks for others to transfer to four-year programs at the end of the season or establish some connections for next season. Before that, however, there is unfinished business this spring with the Region X tournament on the horizon and chance to play in the national tournament on the line.

“These guys know that we still have a long stretch ahead of us and have a lot of unaccomplished goals here. There have been some personal goals met such as finding a place to go to school next year, but there are team goals we still have to meet. All these guys will put that ahead of their personal goals, and I think that’s a big part of why they have the opportunity to move forward, because they’re hard working young men and good teammates.”

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