HANCEVILLE – Wallace State had a handful of sophomore student-athletes sign letter of intents with four-year colleges during Wednesday’s early period.
Wallace State baseball left-hander Izaac Yarbrough signed with Auburn University. Yarbrough, a Vinemont graduate, finished 4-2 with a 1.85 ERA last season for the Lions. He tossed 48 2/3 innings, recording 36 strikeouts and issuing only nine walks in 12 appearances, including nine starts.
“I’m excited about the opportunity and thankful I’ve learned as I much I have at Wallace State. I think anyone who has played here will agree how much you learn as far as being mentally tough. You can’t get by with things on the college level like you can in high school. You have to develop a different mentality and learn how to pitch. Coach (Randy) Putman and coach (Adam) Scott have really helped me change my mentality,” said Yarbrough, who will be one of the top anchors of the 2014 Wallace State rotation. “As a pitcher here, you look up to Craig Kimbrel and Derek Holland and see what they’ve accomplished. You hope people can look up to you like that one day.”
Yarbrough will become at least the third Wallace State pitcher joining a SEC team within the last year, joining Robby Clements at Auburn and Bret Marks at Tennessee.
“Izaac has progressed 100 percent since he joined us. I knew there was something there when he came out of Vinemont and he has since developed into a much better pitcher. He’s very coachable and is willing to listen,” said Wallace State Hall of Fame coach Randy Putman. “I’m proud of each of our players who can leave here and join a four-year school. I’m happy as long as they are happy.”
Wallace State men’s basketball guard Jestin Lewis signed with Mercer University on Wednesday. The Virginia native becomes the first Lion to sign during the early period since John Meeks inherited the program less than five years ago.
Lewis is one of Wallace State’s returning players this season after finishing second in the conference last season by averaging 17.1 points per game. He was a second-team All-Region selection and a first-team All-ACCC North Division member as a freshman, dishing out 85 assists and shooting a team-best 42 percent from the 3-point land and 77 percent from the free throw line.
“It definitely takes a lot off my shoulders to be able to sign early. It’s a blessing. I’ll be leaving good people and a good program and joining another like it. Coach Meeks and I talked in the offseason about how one of my goals was to sign early, so we could focus even more on winning a state championship,” Lewis said.
Meeks is excited Lewis has achieved one of his offseason goals.
“It says a lot about our program and how far we’ve come in the last four years athletically and academically. It speaks to the reputation of the college that we are sending students to four-year schools where they’ll fit in comfortably and be able to graduate,” Meeks said. “Mercer was very involved in recruiting process. It laid out its ground work last year in regards to making Jestin a top target. Mercer also has a high academic reputation. Our mission coordinates very well with theirs.”
Wallace State golfers Aksel Olsen and Patrick Twesme signed with the University of South Florida and UNA respectively.
Earlier this year, Olsen became the first individual Wallace State national champion golfer, after earning low medalist at the NJCAA Division I Men’s Golf Championship in Lubbock, Texas. As low medalist, he earned the Arnold Palmer Award along with being recognized as a NJCAA All-American.
Olsen and Twesme helped Wallace State’s golf team finish seventh nationally among 24 teams in Texas.
Wallace State softball’s Kori Benson, last season’s ACCC Tournament MVP and the 2013 Most Outstanding Defense Player of the NJCAA Division I National Tournament, has hooked on with Shorter College in Rome, Ga.
Benson, an Oak Grove native, was one of the stars on Wallace State’s softball team, which won its second national championship last season, adding to the one previously achieved in 2008. Benson clubbed a school-record 23 home runs and finished with a .352 average, 62 RBIs and a .802 slugging percentage.
Other Wallace State sophomores, including women basketball’s Jaylan Snowden, volleyball’s Kianna Delaney, softball’s Madeline Lee, Maria Mitchell and Ashleigh McClure and men’s basketball’s Quinterian McConico are still mulling four-year opportunities and should commit as their respective seasons progress.
For more information about Wallace State athletics, visit wallacestate.edu.
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