By Mike London
Catawba’s baseball team has three frontline senior pitchers in Blake Ketner, Alex Fairweather and Tim Holmes, and that means opportunity for those who follow.
Catawba coach Jim Gantt announced eight early signees, and Lake Norman and Mooresville American Legion left-hander Nick Lomascolo is perhaps the biggest surprise on the list.
Lomascolo, a polished, poised, crafty hurler with three solid pitches, drew attention and offers from Division I schools, but picked the Indians.
“Some guys are worried about prestige, but one thing about Division II is you’ll get a chance to play little earlier,” said Gantt, who guided Catawba to a 43-18 record and a regional trip last season. “Obviously, we’re excited to get Nick.”
Mooresville’s Aaron Meadows is well-known to local baseball fans and is part of the large Meadows baseball clan that has roots in Mount Ulla.
A catcher, he is counted on to help replace senior backstops Ryan Query and Kevin McMillan.
Meadows is an athlete who plays defensive back on the Mooresville football team, and Gantt likes the way he calls a game and handles pitchers.
“Aaron has a real good arm and real good hands,” Gantt said. “A lot of guys can block balls in the dirt, but he’s a good enough athlete to not only block but recover. He’s not afraid to work, and he’s tough mentally. He pitched against the Rowan Legion team last summer in that game where Mooresville made about 18 errors, but he just kept chucking.”
Ross Whitley, a tall, thin Lake Norman hurler isn’t as advanced as Lomascolo, but he may have a bright future.
“Ross is 6-foot-3 and upper 80s velocity” Gantt said. “He previously caught, but then he shot up physically and has a lot of potential. It’ll be fun to watch him develop.”
Junior Robinson is a pitcher and infielder at Tarpon Springs in Florida. He can play any infield position and has loose, mid-80s velocity despite a 5-10, 150-pound frame.
Gantt like Robinson’s speed, hands and hustle.
“He runs on and off the field, and that doesn’t mean he’s old-school,” Gantt said. “That just means he plays the way everybody is supposed to play. That’s the way you do it.”
Ragsdale’s Ryan Andrejco, 6-3, 190, is an outfielder/first baseman, who’s played on high-level teams produced by Scott Bankhead’s North Carolina Baseball Academy.
“He could give us some power, and he’s also a lefty stick, something we really need,” Gantt said.
Gantt enlisted two players who gave the Rowan County Legion team fits last summer.
Anthony Hezar, a hard-hitting catcher from Western Alamance was behind the plate for all eight games of Burlington’s wild Legion series with Rowan last summer.
“He’s extremely tough and wants to be out there,” Gantt said. “Plus, he’s got some power.”
Colton Baughman, who starred for the Randolph County Legion team, is one of those pitchers who doesn’t light up a radar game, but he almost always wins.
He baffled South Rowan last summer, and he beat Rowan in the game that decided the Area III championship. He kept winning in the Legion state tournament and the Southeast Regional.
“How hard he throws, I don’t know,” Gantt said. “But you look up and he’s 10-1. He gets people out.”
Steve Pfeiffer, a first baseman from North Mecklenburg, is a late-blooming signee who became a star last season after a couple of years on the jayvees. He’s another signee who could provide power.
Gantt said the Indians hope to add several more players.