Baseball Announces Seven Early Commitments For Class of 2016
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LEXINGTON, Va. – VMI baseball has announced seven early commitments for the class of 2016, according to information released by the program Tuesday.

“I am very excited about this class,” said VMI head coach Marlin Ikenberry. “Coaches Hadra and Beazley did a great job in all the recruiting aspects that it takes to create such a talented group. These student-athletes have not only the athletic abilities to play at this level, but also the intangibles to be great cadet-athletes.”

Capsules on each of the recruits follow.

Red Dowdell, C, Arlington, Va. – Yorktown
A two-time First Team All-District catcher, Dowdell hit .537 with a .925 slugging percentage in 2010. He also posted an on-base percentage of .652, giving him an outstanding on-base plus slugging (OPS) of 1.578. Dowdell is also a Second Team All-Region selection and a four-time member of the VHSL Academic Honor Roll. He is an UnderArmour Preseason All-American, and was selected to the Area Code Games in Long Beach, Calif.

Coach’s Quote: “Red will bring a lot to the table early on in his career.  He is a left-handed hitting catcher that we project to have the ability to hit in the middle of our lineup.  He is an above-average receiver right now which should allow him to receive significant playing time.  Red was identified as an UnderArmour All American this summer while playing for the Virginia Barnstormers, one of the top travel league teams on the East Coast.  He was also selected to play for the Area Code Games in Long Beach, Calif.”

Taylor Edens, RHP, Suffolk, Va. – Nansemond Suffolk Academy
Edens was a First Team All-TCIS selection last season, as well as being named First Team All-Suffolk. He also played for the Mid-Atlantic Pirates travel team.

Coach’s Quote: “Taylor is a pitcher we have watched develop during the summer, while he played for Jimmy Anderson’s Mid-Atlantic Pirates, as well as the fall in our camps. He has become an extremely exciting young arm. Taylor has a fastball with explosive moment that he can throw in the mid-80’s, and we are very excited about his chance to contribute early in his career, because of his fastball and overall continued development.”

David Geary, IF, Richmond, Va. – Benedictine
Geary was a three-year letterwinner at Benedictine HS. He also played for the RBA West Elite team during his high school career. Geary played both third base and shortstop during his time at Benedictine, is a member of the National Honor Society and was the President of his school’s chapter of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes.

Coach’s Quote: “In this recruiting class, we had a high need for left-handed hitters, and we identified David early on in our recruiting process as a player who could fill that need. He brings with him an ability to play multiple positions on the field, which gives us the flexibility to find different ways to get him in the lineup. This summer, David played for the RBA West Elite team, coached by Donnie Phillips. He will join former teammate Andrew Woods on our squad this season.”

Micah Gorman, RHP, Richmond, Va. – JR Tucker
First Team All-District in 2011…selected to pitch in the Commonwealth Games (team finished third)…two-time All-Academic…threw two complete games junior season and posted a 1.42 ERA in 44 1/3 innings, striking out 45…also pitched for American Legion 125.

Coach’s Quote: “Micah is an extremely competitive pitcher that has sincere passion to win.  He is a three-pitch guy that can really locate his fastball on both sides of the plate. Micah was an outstanding starting pitcher for his high school and was used in multiple roles during his legion season.  This type of flexibility will allow him to pitch early in his career here at VMI.”

Ray Lopez, IF, Willow Street, Pa. – Lampeter-Strasburg
Three-year letterwinner at shortstop for Lampeter HS…All-Section…part of the school’s first team to compile an undefeated (19-0) regular season…hit .373 with a .458 OBP during his senior season…also batted .500 with runners in scoring position…also spent time on the mound…Honorable Mention All-State wide receiver in football as well.

Coach’s Quote: “Ray is an extremely athletic infielder that comes from one of the best high school programs in the state of Pennsylvania.  We expect Ray to be a fixture in the middle infield, and at the top of our lineup during his time at VMI.  Ray played extremely well all summer for Mike Manning and the All-Star Baseball Academy, while competing against the top competition on the east coast.”

Michael Mack, RHP, Pittsburgh, Pa. – Montour
Mack is a three-year letterwinner out of Montour HS, where he also played shortstop…was also captain of the bowling team.

Coach’s Quote: “We are excited about adding Michael to our program.  Michael came to our camp and showed the ability to consistently throw his fastball in the upper 80’s, as well as throw both his off-speed pitches in the mid-to-upper 70’s.  This combination will give Michael the tools and opportunity to be an electric arm for VMI.” 

Jason Stafford, RHP, Lynchburg, Va. – Jefferson Forest
Stafford comes to VMI from Jefferson Forest in nearby Lynchburg…he also played for the Richmond Braves travel team, as well as being selected to the Virginia Stars and Team USA – North Atlantic.

Coach’s Quote: “We are extremely ecstatic about the addition of Jason to our pitching staff because of his huge upside.  Jason is a 6’7” athletic pitcher who can run his fastball up into the upper 80’s.  This capability, accompanied with the development of his slider that is 74-77, will make Jason an important ingredient to our success over the next four years.  This summer, Jason attended our camp, as well as playing for the extremely competitive Richmond Braves.”

VMI baseball will open its 2012 campaign on Friday, Feb. 17 in Columbia, S.C., taking on the two-time defending national champion South Carolina Gamecocks. Game time is set for 3 p.m.