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Baylor Bears baseball signs 11 recruits for 2005-06 season

Nov. 11, 2004

By EMILEE ELLIS, reporter

Baylor baseball head Coach Steve Smith announced the names of 11 student athletes that have signed national letters of intent to play with the Bears in the 2005-2006 season.

According to Smith, this class of early signees is one of the largest compared to past years.

"We had more scholarship dollars available at this point because we have more seniors on our team," Smith said. "[With seniors,] you know for sure you can go ahead and spend your money."

Smith said because the organization has to make educated guesses about juniors signing or coming back; they didn't spend all of the junior money.

"If we do lose other guys that we didn't plan on, the Division-I transfer market is always in process," Smith said. "There will be good players that pop up this spring that went unsigned."

Many of the players that did sign with next year's class won't be traveling far from home. Nine of the 11 players signed hail from Texas, with one athlete joining the team from Missouri and one from Virginia.

Three of the signees, Matt Czimskey, Matt Sodolak and Jake Weghorst, are transfers from nearby junior colleges, and the remaining eight, Ben Booker, Howell Finch, Seth Hammock, Tim Hartland, Owen Reid, Cliff Springston, Beamer Weems and Reed Woytek, will join the team straight out of high school.

Czimskey is a 5-foot-11 catcher and utility player from Waco. He plays at San Jacinto College where he posted a .332 hitting percentage and a .455 slugging percentage in 2004. Among other honors, Czimskey was named 2003 District MVP for Midway High School.

Another catcher, Sodolak, recruited from McLennan Community College, stands 6 feet 1 inch tall. He earned second-team all conference at both catcher and relief pitcher in 2004.

In 2003, Sodolak was named an all-state catcher for Columbus High School.

According to a press release, Smith said both Czimskey and Sodolak will bring immediate experience and leadership to the team.

Weghorst, a 6-foot-1 right-handed pitcher, is coming to the team from Angelina Junior College. He was selected to the 2004 first-team all-conference pitcher, and he led Angelina to a 32-21 record in 2004.

Weghorst attended Lorena High School where he was named to the 2003 Texas state all-tournament team.

Weghorst will be joined by two 2005 Lorena high graduates, Booker and Springston.

Booker is a 6-foot-2 infielder who led his team to a 31-5 record in 2004. As a junior, he hit .357 including two home runs, six doubles and four triples.

Springston is a left-handed pitcher who posted an 11-2 record in 2004.

He averaged a 0.90 ERA and earned 79 strikeouts. Springston can also be used as an outfield player.

Four other 2005 Texas high school graduates will join the bears.

Hartland, who is from Waco and attends Midway High School, is a 6-foot catcher. He received first-team all-district honors in 2004, along with a 2004 Super CenTex honorable mention.

A Lubbock native, Finch is a 6-foot-1 infielder who has served as the starting shortstop for Cooper High School since his sophomore year. He has been ranked among the top 10 players in Texas for three straight years.

Woytek, another infielder and right-handed pitcher, is a 6-foot-1 senior at Round Rock High School. On the mound in 2004, he posted a 7-3 record with a 3.17 ERA and 69 strikeouts.

Another signee, Hammock, is a corner infield player who was named Carroll High School Offensive Player of the Year in 2003 and 2004.

In a press release, Smith said Hammock is the most physical hitter of the group.

Baylor Baseball acquired its last two early signees from out of state.

Reid, a graduating senior from Moberly, Mo., is a 5-foot-10 right-handed pitcher and infielder.

He ranks second all-time in Missouri in strikeouts-per-seven innings with an average of 12.68. He has also been a three-time all-conference and all-district nominee.

Baylor's other out-of-state recruit, Weems, is a 5-foot-11 infielder from Virginia Beach, Va.

In 2004, he hit .423 with two home runs, 17 RBIs, six doubles, three triples, seven stolen bases and a .653 slugging percentage.