Jackrabbit baseball signs six
South Dakota State University baseball coach Dave Schrage announced his inaugural recruiting class Wednesday that consists of three high school standouts and three junior college players who have signed national letters of intent, indicating they plan to enroll next fall and compete for the Jackrabbits.
The recruiting class includes:
* Zach Coppola (pronounced coe-POE-lah, outfielder, Windsor Heights, Iowa;
* Joe Erickson, pitcher, Urbandale, Iowa;
* Jake Ratz, first baseman/outfielder, Hiawatha, Iowa;
* Tyler Shannon, shortstop, Canon City, Colo.;
* Cody Sharrow, infielder, Burlington, Vt.; and
* Scott Splett, outfielder, Apple Valley, Minn.
"For as late as we got started, I couldn't be happier with the class we're bringing in," said Schrage, who was hired in early August. "We had to identify guys who could come in and play right away because we're going to lose five starters after this season. We didn't want to start rebuilding next year, we want to keep the program where it has been."
Schrage added: "I want to commend Coach (Brian) Grunzke for his efforts in serving as our recruiting coordinator. We wanted to bring in kids who are good not only on the field, but off the field, as well as being winners. I believe we have all those qualities in this group of players, including some who are well-seasoned in junior college."
Coppola and Erickson were teammates on the West Des Moines-based Dowling Catholic High School team that won the Iowa Class 4A state championship last summer. A second-team all-conference and all-district pick, Coppola batted .396 with a .480 on-base percentage and stole 16 bases. He also played on a state champion football team in 2010 and has earned all-academic recognition in both sports.
Erickson also was a second-team all-conference honoree after compiling a 7-1 record with a 1.47 earned run average. A right-hander, he limited opponents to a .110 batting average after allowing only 24 hits in 52 1/3 innings on the mound. Erickson intends to major in ag business.
Ratz is expected to provide power from the left side of the plate after completing his two-year career at Ellsworth Community College (Iowa) this spring. During the 2011 campaign, Ratz recorded 12 extra-base hits (nine doubles, one triple and two home runs) and tallied 21 runs batted in. Prior to pursuing his collegiate career, Ratz lettered three times at Cedar Rapids Xavier High School.
Shannon is set to join the Jackrabbits after playing the 2012 season for Ellsworth Community College. He began his collegiate career at Bellevue University (Neb.), where he saw limited action both in the field and on the mound during the 2011 campaign. At the prep level, Shannon was a three-time all-conference selection at Canon City High School and was named conference defensive player of the year as a senior.
Sharrow has earned first-team all-metro honors each of the past two seasons at Mount Mansfield Union High School. He also earned all-tournament honors at the Vermont American Legion State Tournament in both 2010 and 2011. An Academic Excellence Award recipient, he plans to major in engineering.
Splett plans to join the Jackrabbit roster after serving as team captain during the 2012 season at Iowa Central Community College in Fort Dodge, Iowa. During his first collegiate series, Splett hit .302 with 11 doubles, a home run and 24 runs batted in. He also stole 12 bases. Splett, who is a graduate of Apple Valley High School in the Twin Cities area, plans to major in chemistry.
South Dakota State has reached the Summit League title series each of the last three seasons. The Jackrabbits ended the 2011 season with a 37-20 record, including a runner-up finish during the league regular season with a 20-8 mark.