FROM CBB NEWS SOURCE
Head coach Marlin Ikenberry and his coaching staff have announced the early signings of eight players to the VMI Baseball Class of 2013. The class includes two sets of high school teammates among the seven players from the Commonwealth of Virginia, while another hails from Pennsylvania. The program’s early signees are Matt Armstead (Newport News, Va./Menchville), Coby Cowgill (Norfolk, Va./Maury), John Garrett (Norfolk, Va./Maury), Erickson Keeton (Suffolk, Va./Nansemond River), Miles McQuaig (Midlothian, Va./Midlothian), Ombri Rivers (Suffolk, Va./Nansemond River), Cory Spangenberg (Clarks Summit, Pa./Abington Heights), and Travis Thomas (Spotsylvania, Va./Riverbend).
“Overall, this is an outstanding recruiting class and ranks among the best in school history,” said Ikenberry. “These young men have won for their high school, Legion and AAU teams. They are not only great baseball players, but are also great leaders on and off the field. We are very excited about working with each one of them to attain their goals.”
Matt Armstead (Newport News, Va./Menchville) is a three-year letterwinner under head coach Phil Forbes. A centerfielder/pitcher, Armstead hit .531 with ten home runs and 22 RBI last season, stealing 22 bases. He was also the team’s closer, posting a 0.98 ERA in nine games. A First Team All-Region selection as an outfielder, Armstead was a Second Team All-Region selection as a sophomore. He was also a two-time All-Star for American Legion Post 25, and was a three-year letterwinner in swimming, being named Team MVP while qualifying for the State Championships. An honor roll student, Armstead plans to major in Economics and Business at the Institute.
“Matt is a speedy outfielder and right-handed pitcher who played for Coach Forbes at Menchville HS,” said Ikenberry. “His fastball ranges from 84-87 mph, and is complemented by an above-average changeup. His athleticism will make him a great two-way player in college. Matt’s mentality on the mound will project him to be a great closer in college.”
Coby Cowgill (Norfolk, Va./Maury) is a four-year letterwinner under head coach Jack Baker, and was named to the Virginian-Pilot’s All-Tidewater Team as a pitcher. The Eastern District Player of the Year, Cowgill led the Commodores to the district’s regular season and tournament championships. He led South Hampton Roads in strikeouts during the regular season and finished with 128 (against 18 walks) in 67 innings, going 7-2 with a 1.50 ERA. Also a two-time Second Team All-District selection, Cowgill’s career numbers at Maury show a 19-6 record and 279 strikeouts in 189 innings. Outside of his scholastic competitions, Cowgill has competed in the American Legion State Tournament several times, hitting .542 with five home runs while going 7-1 with a 1.30 ERA in 67 innings back in 2007. A National Honor Society student, Cowgill also has earned letters playing basketball and golf at Maury, and plans to major in Economics and Business at the Institute.
“Coby is a right-handed pitcher that has the potential to be a weekend starter early in his career,” said Ikenberry. “He has a feel for all four of his pitches, with his fastball ranging from 86-88 mph. He is a fierce competitor who has won at every level. Coby played for Norfolk Post 13, which finished 3rd in the American Legion State Tournament and was coached by parents of former Keydet baseball players in Allan Erbe (son Elliot ’03) and Ron Smith (son Matt ’05).”
John Garrett (Norfolk, Va./Maury) hit .428 and went 3-0 with a no-hitter to his credit last season under coach Baker at Maury. A two-year letterwinner, Garrett helped lead Maury to both a regular season and tournament championship in the Eastern District, and was a Second Team selection in the district. Garrett has also helped his American Legion squad to a District 2 Championship and a third-place finish in the State Tournament, and was selected as a member of the Regional All-Star Team. A four-year letterwinner and Team MVP in golf at Maury, Garrett is also an Honor Roll student who is included in the National Society of High School Honors. He plans to major in either History or Economics and Business.
“John is a right-handed pitcher that consistently throws in the mid-eighties with movement and a plus changeup,” said Ikenberry. “He is a strong competitor who knows how to attack hitters. John is teammates with fellow signee Coby Cowgill, attending the same high school as current Keydet pitcher Karter Rivera. John also played for Norfolk Post 13 which finished 3rd in the American Legion State Tournament, and was coached by parents of former Keydet baseball players in Allan Erbe (son Elliot ’03) and Ron Smith (son Matt ’05).”
Erickson Keeton (Suffolk, Va./Nansemond River) will join the Keydets as an outfielder/pitcher. Already a three-year letterwinner under coach Mark Stuffel at Nansemond River, Keeton was named First Team All-District a season ago after leading the Southeastern District in home runs (8) while hitting .394 with 22 RBIs and 14 stolen bases. On the mound, Keeton went 6-3 with a 2.15 ERA and 68 strikeouts. A member of the the Virginian-Pilot’s All-Tidewater team, he was also named Team MVP and Most Outstanding Player. He is also a member of the Richmond Braves ’09 club team that was the 2008 WWBA 16U National Champions. He plans to major in either Civil Engineering or Economics and Business at VMI.
“Erickson may be the most athletic player in the state of Virginia,” said Ikenberry. “He is a two-way player who will hit in the middle of our lineup early in his career. On the mound, he has shown a fastball in the range of 88-91 mph with good feel for his breaking ball. Erickson is one of the best athletes that VMI Baseball has ever signed.”
Miles McQuaig (Midlothian, Va./Midlothian) has lettered for two seasons under head coach Scott Hueston. A pitcher/utility player, McQuaig went 7-0 as a pitcher and hit .450 with 22 RBIs in his sophomore season, helping lead Midlothian to a 17-3 mark. Also a member of the Richmond Braves, McQuaig won two state championships with the Rise Baseball Club. A highly-regarded player, he was named ot the 2009 Top Prospect team at the 2008 WWBA Championship, and is ranked among the top 25 players in Virginia by Impact Baseball. He plans to major in Civil Engineering at VMI.
“Miles is a left-handed hitter with power potential, and a right-handed pitcher whose fastball ranges in the mid-eighties,” said Ikenberry. “He has shown excellent command of all his pitches, and we foresee him making a big impact early in his career.”
Ombri Rivers (Suffolk, Va./Nansemond River) joined high school teammate Keeton as an All-Southeastern District selection last fall, coming in on the Second Team. A three-year letterwinner under coach Stuffel, Rivers hit .437 a season ago at Nansemond River, the high school of current Keydet, Justin Topping. Rivers joined Keeton on the National Champion Richmond Braves squad last summer, and has also played for championship teams with the Virginia Cannons and Performance Baseball. Ombri will also join his brother in the Big South, as Tyren Rivers was named Second Team All-Conference at second base for Radford last season. He plans to major in Engineering at the Institute.
“Ombri played shortstop for the 16-and-under AAU National Champion Richmond Braves, along with fellow signee Erickson Keeton,” said Ikenberry. “Ombri’s defensive abilities are among the best in the state. Offensively, he projects to be a situational hitter with gap-to-gap power. We’re excited about what his athleticism will bring to our program.”
Cory Spangenberg (Clarks Summit, Pa./Abington Heights) is a two-year letterwinner under coach Bill Zalewski. Last season, Spangenberg was selected All-League and All-Region at shortstop, hitting .438 with a .510 on-base percentage, collecting 20 RBIs, six stolen bases and three home runs in 48 at bats. Named Abington Heights’ Offensive Player of the Year as a junior, he also hit .476 as a sophomore and was named Rookie of the Year, ranking second in the League in batting average. He has played two seasons with the Moosic Mets in a wood bat league, hitting .431 last season with a .633 slugging percentage. He was also selected to play in the Keystone State Games and participated in the American Legion East-West Game. An honor roll student and a member of the National Honor Society, Spangenberg plans to major in Economics and Business at VMI.
“Cory is one of the most explosive middle infielders we saw all summer,” remarked Ikenberry. “He is an extremely athletic left-handed hitter that has game-changing speed and potential to hit for power. His base-stealing ability projects him to hit in the top of the order.”
Travis Thomas (Spotsylvania, Va./Riverbend) is a right-handed pitcher that has been a three-year letterwinner under head coach Tim Stimmell. As a junior Thomas posted a 2.57 ERA in 52 innings for Riverbend, striking out 58 batters. An Honorable Mention selection at pitcher and Second Team All-District utility player, Thomas also plays on the basketball team at Riverbend. He was a member of the Canes Showcase baseball team in 2008, and played for the Faris Braves back in 2007. He plans to major in Economics and Business at the Institute.
“Travis is a very projectable right-handed pitcher who throws his fastball in the mid-to-upper eighties,” said Ikenberry. “He also has great feel for his changeup, and the ability to locate his fastball on both sides of the plate. Travis has the potential to develop into a starting pitcher at the Division I level. ”
The Keydets are coming off their third-straight winning season, the first such run by a VMI hardball team in 52 years. The squad went 29-26 overall in 2008, and its 14-7 Big South record tied the team for second in the League standings. They open the 2009 season at North Carolina, who is coming off its third-straight trip to Omaha, in a three-game series at the Tarheels’ new facility, Bryson Field at Boshamer Stadium on Feb. 20-22.