College baseball: Catawba recruiting class includes two Cougars, Goodine

Published 12:00 am Thursday, January 9, 2020

By Mike London

SALISBURY —When a ballplayer takes the field, he never know who’s going to be watching.

Catawba head baseball coach Jim Gantt went to scout a player in the local fall league and wound up getting excited about a different prospect.

That prospect who hadn’t been on Gantt’s radar prior to seeing him in person is Carson senior Ryan Street.

Street is now part of Catawba’s latest, 16-man recruiting class.

Street reminds Gantt of another Carson late-bloomer. The Indians missed out on Cole Hales, who signed with Coker before his breakout senior season.

“We think Ryan will be a good pitcher for us,” Gantt said. “He looks a lot like Cole.”

Carson (27-5) had Hales and Deacon Wike available to pitch most of the innings last season. Street went to the mound in 12 games and went 1-0 with one save. He struck out 19 batters in 17 2/3 innings.

Catawba also has signed Zeb Burns, the Carson shortstop. Burns hit .340 for the Cougars as a junior with 18 runs scored, 20 RBIs and 14 steals.

A wrist injury limited Burns’ offense in American Legion ball last summer, but he showed a lot of potential as a defender and on the bases.

Gantt compares Burns to Jeremy Simpson, who wasn’t heavily recruited out of West Rowan, but has developed into a tremendous shortstop for Catawba.

“Zeb is a really athletic guy,” Gantt said. “We think he has the arm and the quickness to play third base, shortstop or second base for us. And we believe the bat is going to come along, the same way Simpson’s did.”

Burns played defensive back and receiver for Carson’s football team.

Catawba has recruited quite a few infielders, but Gantt believes that’s a good thing.

“Friendly competition, healthy competition — that makes everyone better,” Gantt said.

North Rowan’s Jordan Goodine will sign a Catawba football scholarship in February, but he also could be an important part of this baseball recruiting class. It’s not easy, but he’ll be given a chance to play both sports at Catawba.

Goodine is a terrific football linebacker (356 career tackles, 50 tackles for loss, Yadkin Valley Conference Defensive Player of the Year) and showed in American Legion baseball last summer, when he scored 40 runs for Rowan County, that he also has a lot of baseball potential. He’s expected to be one of the county’s top high school players this spring.

Catawba had to plug a couple of holes in the pitching staff that it hadn’t expected to have at this time a year ago.

Riley Myers has a year of baseball eligibility left, but rather than returning to Catawba, he’s in graduate school now at Wake Forest and plans to pitch for the Demon Deacons. Peyton Williams, last season’s star closer, was drafted by Atlanta and signed with the Braves.

Other Catawba recruits:

  • Aaron Williams, Davie, C — Batted .370 with 22 RBIs for a 22-4 team. Central Piedmont Conference Player of the Year.
  • Jackson Mitchell, Garner, OF — Has a lot of speed and will have a chance to be a center fielder.
  • Brandon McSorley, Massachusetts, P — His father is a Boston policeman. He’s a 6-foot-5 right-hander with a lot of potential.
  • Cullen Knapp, TC Roberson, IF — Has experience at three positions for a strong high school program.
  • Harris Jackson, East Montgomery, OF/IF — Has been a dynamic player for Randolph County American Legion and can play a lot of positions.
  • Jackson Finger, North Gaston, OF/IF — Another exciting athlete. He’s played mostly shortstop.
  • Levi Perrell, Oak Grove, SS — Perrell comes highly recommended. He reminds people of Oak Grove coach David Thomas, one of Catawba’s all-time greats.
  • Maxwell Hyman, Marvin Ridge, OF/3B — Versatile and has extra-base power.
  • Nick Halo, Wheatmore, P — An athlete, he was the football team’s quarterback.
  • Cody Acosta, Western Alamance, P — Not an exceptionally hard thrower, but he’s a lefty who gets hitters out.
  • Adam Dossenbach, Guilford Tech, P — Big right-hander throws an effective sinking fastball.
  • Ben Gilks, Guilford Tech, P — Converted catcher is a potential closer.
  • Ross Fowler, Maiden, P — Smart hurler competed in the State Games.