This isn’t the first export SCC, whose team nickname is the Artichokes, has made to the Jacks. The trio joins ‘Chokes associate head coach Ben Taylor, who is preparing for his first season as Pump Jacks head coach.
All three players are sophomores for SCC, which is ranked #8 in the country in NJCAA Division II and eying a lengthy post-season run. After splitting a doubleheader with Central Arizona College Tuesday, the Artichokes sport a 26-16 record on the season. Their 16-13 conference record is best among the Arizona Community College Athletic Conference (ACCAC) D-II schools.
The three players have another similarity beyond being teammates: All three are advancing to NCAA Division I programs next year. Big 12 fans will see Nicholas backstop Missouri in 2010, while Geith heads to Louisiana-Lafayette and Oesterle migrates north to the University of Evansville.
One noteworthy advantage for Artichokes players is that unlike most of college baseball, ACCAC programs use wood bats in games, just like the Pump Jacks and all professional leagues. This should make the transition to summer ball much smoother than some other players, who may be swinging wood for the first time.
If the past is any indication, Nicholas will have no trouble with the transition. After spending his freshman year at Gonzaga University, Nicholas spent the summer playing first base for the West Coast League’s Kelowna Falcons. He was named to the all-league first team after batting .312, good for 12th in the league, and leading the circuit with 15 doubles. He led the Falcons in doubles, hits (44), and RBI (24), and he was second on the team in runs scored (25). Nicholas set a new team record for doubles and helped lead Kelowna to its first playoff appearance since 2005.
Nicholas has continued that hot streak this season with the Artichokes. Entering play this week, he was batting .394, tops on the team and 10th in the ACCAC. He also leads SCC in hits (49), RBI (29), and home runs (6), ranking third in the league in homers.
Last spring, as a true freshman playing for Gonzaga in the strong West Coast Conference, Nicholas batted .238, posting an impressive 15 RBI in just 63 at-bats.
A highly touted slugger in high school, Nicholas was a two-time all-state and three-time all-conference selection at Pinnacle High School in Phoenix. As a junior, Nicholas batted .492 with eight home runs, 38 RBI, and an .897 slugging percentage. He answered those impressive figures as a senior by batting .506 with eight home runs and 56 RBI while slugging .892. Following his senior campaign, Nicholas led the Arizona squad to a tie for first place at the Sunbelt Classic tournament in Oklahoma, where he was named the event’s most valuable player.
Geith is a workhorse for the Artichokes, logging 51 innings already this spring. He sports a 4-2 record and 2.84 ERA, striking out 51 and allowing only 47 hits. He leads the staff in strikeouts, he is tied for the team lead in wins, and he’s second in innings pitched.
As a freshman, Geith was equally strong for the Artichokes, going 3-3 with a 4.02 ERA. He finished second on the team with 71.2 innings and 59 strikeouts, helping earn him a spot in the Arizona Junior College All-Star Game.
Last summer, Geith stayed close to home and played in the Arizona Collegiate Wood Bat League. Pitching for the A’s, he posted a 4-3 record with one save and a team-best 3.13 ERA. He led the staff with 43 innings and 50 strikeouts, and meriting a spot in the league All-Star Game.
The lefty starred at Sunrise Mountain High School in Peoria, Ariz., where he also played alongside Oesterle. Geith went 6-0 with a 1.60 ERA and was an all-conference and all-region performer as a senior, earning a spot alongside Oesterle in the Arizona 5A Senior All-Star Game.
It should come as no surprise that Oesterle and Geith are coming to East Texas as a tandem. The slick infielder starred with Geith at Sunrise Mountain, graduated to Scottsdale with him, and the two played together last summer in Arizona. But while Geith captained the mound, Oesterle patrolled the middle infield and delivered at the plate.
Entering this week’s play, Oesterle was hitting .252, a figure which stands to rise after a multiple-hit performance on Tuesday. He also leads the team with 147 at-bats and 12 doubles, and he’s contributed 21 RBI as well.
In 2008, Oesterle debuted at the college level with a .206 average, eight doubles, two triples, and 19 RBI. As Geith’s teammate with the A’s last summer, his average jumped to .277, and he earned his own invitation to the league All-Star Game.
Oesterle and Geith helped continue Sunrise Mountain’s string of six consecutive regional titles. He batted .415 as a senior with five homers, earning all-region honors and an invitation to the Arizona 5A Senior All-Star Game.
The three Artichokes bring the Pump Jacks announced roster to 13. Last week, the Jacks introduced a quartet of newcomers from the University of New Mexico – Daniel Gonzalez, Justin Howard, Joey Castleman, and Ben Woodchick. The Lobos were preceded by Abel Gonzales, Mark Haynes, and Matthew Reckling, all pitchers from national power Rice. The first three players introduced for this summer were A.J. Casario and Ian Schwalenberg of Maryland, and returning Pump Jack hurler Chad Sherman from Texas A&M.
With many of this year’s players coming to East Texas from across the country, the Pump Jacks are actively seeking host families for this summer. Host families enjoy the opportunity to have a potential future major leaguer live with them, forging a bond that lasts a lifetime. As an added bonus, host families receive FREE season tickets for everyone in their household. Click here or contact the Pump Jacks for more information.
The 2009 season is scheduled to begin on Friday, June 5, when the Pump Jacks host the league’s newest team, the Victoria Generals. The 48-game regular season will run through August 8, to be followed by the playoffs and TCL Championship Series. Fans can download a copy of the team’s schedule by clicking here.
Season tickets are currently on sale, with ticket packages starting as low as $105 – and $85 for children and seniors – for all 24 regular season home games. Box seat season tickets are also available, including Lower Box seats, which feature in-your-seat wait service all game long, every game. For more information on Pump Jacks season tickets, click here or contact the Jacks office at (903) 218-GO ET.