Baseball Bobcats ink top-flight recruiting class

by Shawn Wansley

JCJC Sports Information Director

ELLISVILLE – The 2012 baseball recruiting class is mostly in the books and Jones County Junior College head coach Christian Ostrander is ecstatic with the results.

"Recruiting has been great," he said. "We are pretty much on the back end, so to speak. We've signed 14 players, which is about normal. But we feel very good about this class."

This year's group is a blend of quality players from all positions. Ostrander said he and his assistant coaches – Chris Kirtland and Eric Patten – had a clear idea of what they wanted in recruiting.

"We were very specific with our needs we wanted to address," he said. "We are bringing in five arms, two catchers, three outfielders and four infielders. It's a really good mixture."

The class consists of infielders Deion Ulmer of South Jones, Josh Pankratz of Taylorsville, Jordan Stark of Northwest Rankin and Trent Giambrone of Grace King High School in Metairie, La.; outfielders Colton Caver of Gulfport, Alex Shermer of Northwest Rankin and Lamar Anthony of Vicksburg; pitchers Kris Brown of Forest, La., Dawson Kennard of Denham Springs, La., Myles Gentry of Gulfport, Will Hazen of St. Stanislaus and Westin Stringer of Terry; catcher Tyler Graves of Petal; and catcher/infielder Dylan Vuncannon of Tupelo.

Ostrander said the new MACJC rule allowing statewide recruiting, along with JCJC's on-campus playing facility – Community Bank Park – boosted the Bobcats' recruiting efforts.

"The rule change of opening up the state allowed us to go and pinpoint some of the guys we really wanted and needed," he said. "We did not get them all – you never do.

"But we have an outstanding feeling with these guys we've signed and from an out-of-state standpoint, we feel we did well there, too. With the facilities we have and the success we've had, we think all of that has really helped when it comes to signing out of state players."

In addition, all who follow junior college baseball have noticed JCJC's performance on the field.

The Bobcats went 46-17 and finished second in the NJCAA Division II World Series last year in Enid, Okla. They won their second straight MACJC South Division title, their first state championship since 2002 and their first-ever Region 23 Tournament. Ostrander is 120-45 in his three years as the head coach at JCJC.

"The success we had last year by participating in the World Series was great for the program," he said. "We had some immediate positives with that, especially with this recruiting class."

Ostrander added that there is still just a bit of recruiting left to do to complete this class.

"It's been fun, but we are not completely done with recruiting," he said. "There are still holes to fill, but I would say 95 percent of our recruiting is done and that's a good feeling."

This year's edition of the JCJC baseball team will open the season at home with a 2 p.m. doubleheader on Feb. 11 against Mississippi Delta Community College.