Yearning to earn wins, Lions sign spark-plug
SAGU enlists Micah Thompson, infielder
Former Gatesville standout could bat leadoff
WAXAHACHIE, Texas -- Southwestern Assemblies of God University baseball head coach Jonathan Shockley is in his first full recruiting season. The Wichita, Kansas native is actively yearning to build a team that will earn wins on the diamond.
The Lions took a step in that direction this week with the announcement they had signed Micah Thompson, a middle infielder from Gatesville, Texas.
He played shortstop and second base and had nine appearances on the mound for his prep coach, Graig Keeton, a five-year veteran at Gatesville H.S.
"Micah was a tremendous spark for us for four years,” he said. “His presence in the leadoff spot will be sorely missed.”
“His passion for the game is something that we hope has rubbed off on the younger guys that remain here in our program,” Keeton added.
The Lions graduated record-setting Dustin Jett (Patterson, La) in the spring. He batted first for SAGU and set five all-time records, including runs, hits and stolen bases.
Jump-starting the attack is a void that Coach Shockley seeks to fill. The Lions swiped 94 bases in 2012, which was third in the conference. The year before the club had just 44, last in the league.
The Lions batting average of .284 was good for fourth, a rise from their last place finish in 2011. A lack of hitting with men in scoring position short-circuited a number of would-be rallies.
SAGU also has to replace departed starter Riley Hensel (Maypearl, Tx) at third base, as well as securing a new second bagger. Thompson will contend for a berth in the line-up.
The son of Steve and Juanice and brother of Rachel and Danielle, the 5-foot-6 Micah is pumped about coming to SAGU.
"I'm really excited about it,” Thompson said. “I really like the Christian environment that it offers.”
“The young talent (that is returning) and the potential the baseball team has excites me. It’ll be a fun experience! I’m coming with high hopes and standards as a student and a player."
Thompson was named First Team All-District 19 (Class 3-A) three times; as a junior and senior at shortstop, designated hitter and pitcher as well as playing for the CenTex all-star game for seniors.
When he was a sophomore he also garnered First Team All-District as a utility player.
The Hornets knocked off China Spring (26-11) in their final game, 9-2, capping an 18-8 regular season.
His career batting average at Gatesville, 38-miles west of his Waco birthplace, was .310.
He broke school marks for runs (102), walks (81) and walks in a single season (36).
As a senior, Thompson went 24-for-80 at the plate, scoring 26 runs with eight extra-base hits, including a homer on the game’s third pitch against Copperas Cove.
During his junior campaign, the Gatesville Hornet once crushed two bombs in a single game against Waco’s University High School. His team finished 17-12 that season.
Defensively, he helped turn five double plays in his senior season, and while pitching, posted a 5-2 record. In 33 innings, he struck out 43 batters and walked 20.
His earned run average (ERA) of 1.73 was impressive, and his 1.41 WHIP (combined Walks and Hits allowed per Inning Pitched) reflected good control.
The right-hander tossed a pair of complete game shutouts against two Waco high schools; La Vega and Connally, as a senior. The Hornets pitching staff united to blank six teams during the 2012 season.
His strengths on the field are quick hands and feet, an aggressive style best described as all-out, and savvy leadership.
About SAGU baseball
The Lions play in one of the best leagues in the country in the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA), the 15-member Red River Athletic Conference. The #1 ranked team in the country, LSU-Shreveport (54-6), is just one of its perennial powers.
This spring 42 players from 28 NAIA teams were drafted by major league teams.
SAGU looks to make noise next season in both the NAIA and the National Christian College Athletic Association, where the Lions are also an active adherant.
There are over 100 colleges in the NCCAA; from the NAIA, NCAA Division II and III that compete in 11 sports.
The Central Region (which includes SAGU) winner, Oklahoma Wesleyan University (42-25), advanced to the 10-team NCCAA World Series in Cincinnati. The Eagles lost the final to California Baptist University (43-13), 8-3. The Lancers are from the NCAA D2.
The Lions have a young core returning. Shortstop Donovan Vess (Ft. Worth, Tx) and catchers Jared Denton (Mission, Tx) and Taylor Froelich (Lee’s Summit, Mo) key the infield.
The outfield lost three starters. On the mound, junior John Savis (Canton, Tx), and sophomores Zach Worrell (Ft. Worth, Tx) and Rockie Davis (Santa Fe, Tx) are expected to lead the arms race.
Joining Coach Shockley will be Assistant Coach Tommy Benningfield, who still holds some team records.
New ballpark welcomes fall camp
The Lions have played their first ten seasons at the Waxahachie Sports Complex. Starting this year they will play on their new, campus ballpark, which will be featured on-line this summer.
Players will report to fall camp, where veterans, recruits and walk-ons will battle for a position on the roster. The camp concludes with a week-long World Series between the players.
The Lions hope to announce plans for an Alumni Game by early fall.
The 2012 recruiting class, which has previously introduced two pitchers, will present up to four new signees this week.