Three Red Oak pitchers could start

Elles, Denton, Davis, Sheffield look to lead Lions

WAXAHACHIE, Texas  --  The first pitch will not be thrown for another five weeks, but the new-look Southwestern Assemblies of God University Lions baseball team is beginning to emerge.

Under second-year Head Coach Jonathan Shockley this year’s squad will be replacing a host departed seniors with a bevy of young talent.

Most positions will be filled with underclassmen, many of whom will earn a starting role for the first time. The entire outfield graduated, as did the team’s third baseman and a host of the pitching staff.

When the team begins practicing in early January for the 2013 season there will likely be a few new additions that enroll during the break. The original cast numbered 35 during fall camp.

“We anticipate signing some players for the spring semester,” Shockley said last week. “There are opportunities for returning players and newcomers to compete, and it should bring out the best in the team.”

SAGU (14-28) improved markedly last year, yet it translated into a less-than-desired rise in victories from 10 to 14. Heading into their final season as a member of the Red River Athletic Conference, the Lions still have an uphill climb.

One of the teams they will face is last year’s #1 ranked team in the nation, LSU-Shreveport (54-6 record), who will play a three-game series in Waxahachie the first weekend in April.

The Lions are also excited to be playing some of their 33 home games on their new campus park. While 17 will take place across town at the Waxahachie Sports Complex, 16 are set to take place on campus, adjacent to the Sheaffer Center, flanking the new softball field.

Perhaps the position that will have the most unfamiliar players will be on the mound, where the pitching staff will introduce three new starters to the rotation.

Returning is sophomore left-hander Robert Elles (Red Oak, Tx / Red Oak HS). He is strong and could be the workhorse of the group, which includes three from nearby Red Oak High School;
-  Hayden Killebrew (Red Oak, Tx / Red Oak HS) is a stout righty with good control
-  Jarrod Pisors (Red Oak, Tx / Red Oak HS), a 6’7, lanky right-hander, is developing his skills into what Shockley believes will be a solid starter.

A fourth member of the group is a second southpaw in Skyler Gilstrap (Smithville, Tx / Smithville HS). During his autumn debut he showed a penchant for getting stronger with each passing inning.

Which one earns the title of ace is yet to be seen, and Coach Shockley says there are others who could unseat some of the four, including two new recruits.

“I expect anywhere from 15 to 18 pitchers in January,” he added, “and the jury is still out on who will earn innings on the hill.”

A native of Wichita, Kansas, Shockley is very confident in the Lions closer, sophomore Rockie Davis (Santa Fe, Tx / Santa Fe HS). A gritty right-hander, Davis revealed the goods during a handful of quality starts in 2012.

His M.O. on the mound is similar to his style as a starting linebacker for SAGU: fearless. During his freshman season on the hill he walked 18 and struck out 42 while winning a pair of decisions.

His highlight was a two-hit, complete game win over the University of the Southwest.

This year’s hurlers, though green, appear to be much deeper than last year’s club. Shockley likes much of what he has seen in the pitchers, including a teammate of Davis’ from the Lions football team.

Nick Cox (Lufkin, Tx / Lufkin HS), a back-up quarterback, will vie for a spot on the team as a lefty with a strong arm. His sister, Kassy, is also playing two sports for the school.

When the team reports in January, the roster and team captains will be announced.

The season is slated to begin in late January, when three doubleheaders are on tap for the 25th, 26th and 29th, all at home.

Weather permitting, the Lions' first 15 games are at home.

There are battles still going on at each position.

Catcher looks the most talented in terms of depth. Expect to see Jared Denton (Mission, Tx / Sharyland HS) and Taylor Froelich (Lee’s Summit, Mo / LS West HS), the incumbents, leading the way.

However, T.J. McIntosh (Dayton, Oh / Byron Steele HS) and Lance Marks (Nevada, Tx / Community HS) could press their way into the mix. McIntosh has an arm that, allegedly, is second only to the Statue of Liberty.

Denton and Froelich (FRAY-lik) are boot-strap tough and bona-fide leaders. The former batted .305 last spring while his on-base percentage, .402, was third best on the squad.

There is a logjam at first base, where power hitters Rusty Hensel (Maypearl, Tx / Maypearl HS) and Billy Mee (Fayetteville, NC / Copperas Cove HS) could emerge, or force their way into the line-up somewhere due to their bat.

Hensel, the younger brother of former SAGU player, Riley, is a transfer from Dallas Christian College. He led the Crusaders in home runs and will help fill a line-up that was devoid of power.

The Lions hit only four dingers, by four different players, in 42 games last season. Froelich and Elles are two of the foursome.

Enrique Rodriguez (Ft. Worth, Tx / Ranger JC, Nolan Catholic HS) got off to a great start in the fall, and is gearing up for a productive season. Ricky endured a few hurdles as a freshman.

One player who raised eyebrows during the seven-week long fall camp was Nick Sheffield (Maypearl, Tx / Maypearl HS), a 6’2 sophomore. He can play at first, third and pitch, though it was Sheff’s elevated progress at bat that drew the most praise.

Shortstop and second base, strengths a year ago, may see a shuffled line-up in 2013.

Jacob Spivey (Georgetown, Tx / Harker Heights HS), who played at both, may return to the pivot this spring, while Micah Thompson (Waco, Tx / Gatesville HS) works to win the nod at second.

Spivey batted .318 last season, fourth best on the team. In two pitching starts he posted a 1-0 mark with an 1.80 ERA.

The outfield’s starting threesome has yet to be announced. Elles (pronounced like Ellis) and Davis, when not pitching, along with Tyler English (Abilene, Tx / Gatesville HS), a spot starter on the mound, are players capable of manning the deep pastures.

Elles swung a .274 bat a year ago.

Davis reportedly turned in the squad’s best catch of the fall when he gloved a deep drive in the gap that had inside-the-parker stamped all over it.

“There was no way that ball was going to be caught,” Coach Shockley said. “I’m still amazed that he got there, fully extended on the run, and made the play.”

Observers said it was similar to the circus catch in centerfield last spring by Dustin Jett (Patterson, La / Patterson HS). That blast, towards the warning track in right-center, was snared with a Superman-like leap that the aptly named Jett almost made look routine.

Shockley’s coaching staff includes Tommy Benningfield and Derek Fortner, both former SAGU standouts, along with Andrew Rickman.

Benningfield, back for a second year, will work with catchers while serving as the hitting coach. Fortner’s role will include the infield, while Rickman will handle the outfield and cover the team’s strength and conditioning.

Rickman, from Evangel University (Springfield, Mo), is also an assistant coach with the Lions football team.

SAGU improved their team batting average to .284 last year, a figure that ranked fourth in the RRAC.

The pitching staff’s earned run average of 5.37, was two runs per game less than in 2011 (7.38). That was good enough to rank 5th in the 10-team league.

Defensively the team reduced their errors from 122 to 95 and increased the number of bases they stole from 44 to 94.

Those advances were often undone by an offense that left runners on base in the clutch. Six games were lost on days in which they yielded less than their ERA (5 runs or less). They also dropped five one-run decisions.

Lion pitchers held opponents under 10 runs in 30-of-42 games. The year before they kept the enemy to nine runs or less in just 18 games, while allowing double-digit scoring 22 times.

Improved clout at the plate this year will be a great boost to a program seeking their first-ever winning season.

Contact: Mark “Link” Warde, SAGU Sports Information Director, at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or at 469-658-2847.
 

Baseball News

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Sam Blackmon Q & A

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Lions picked eighth in Sooner Conference

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Jan 28, 2014 - Baseball News

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Baseball Lions host Alumni Game on Saturday

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Jan 18, 2014 - Baseball News

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46-game SAGU baseball schedule released

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Dec 29, 2013 - Baseball News

Denton, Fletcher, Sheffield to lead new-look Lions New Coach Sam Blackmon and team to open camp on Jan. 13 WAXAHACHIE, Texas -- The Southwestern Assemblies of God University baseball t...

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SAGU football rises in NCCAA rankings

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Nov 12, 2013 - Baseball News

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Lions sign second baseman Hernandez

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Sep 02, 2013 - Baseball News

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Soccer Lions find their swerve in Kansas

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Sep 01, 2013 - Baseball News

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Baseball Lions catch "Killer Bee"

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Aug 13, 2013 - Baseball News

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Lions pick Brimberry off Beaumont vine

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Aug 10, 2013 - Baseball News

All-District performer bolsters recruiting class Coach Blackmon's youth movement in full stride WAXAHACHIE, Texas  --  The Southwestern Assemblies of God University baseb...

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New recruit gets out of Dodge

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Aug 06, 2013 - Baseball News

SAGU signs third-baseman, Collin Gifford Lions lasso Dodge City, Kansas standout WAXAHACHIE, Texas  --  The Southwestern Assemblies of God University baseball team is filling...

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Bayou State yields Second Baseman

Bayou State yields Second Baseman

Aug 04, 2013 - Baseball News

SAGU signs Arcadia's Bruce Johnson Former All-Stater transfers to play for Lions WAXAHACHIE, Texas  --  Southwestern Assemblies of God University has acquired Bruce Johnson as...

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SAGU sinks talons in baseball recruit

SAGU sinks talons in baseball recruit

Aug 04, 2013 - Baseball News

Outfielder from Cortez, Colorado commits to Lions New Coach Sam Blackmon inks outfielder Tallon Ralstin WAXAHACHIE, Texas  --  Head Coach Sam Blackmon has added a new baseball rec...

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Baseball Lions secure Clay Gentle

Baseball Lions secure Clay Gentle

Aug 03, 2013 - Baseball News

Outfielder hopes to be a 'rock' for SAGU WAXAHACHIE, Texas  --  Southwestern Assemblies of God University has announced the signing of Clay Gentle, a three-time All-...

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Baseball Lions sign Brock Schneider

Baseball Lions sign Brock Schneider

Jul 29, 2013 - Baseball News

Outfielder was standout for Arlington Martin HS WAXAHACHIE, Texas  -- Sam Blackmon has hit the ground running since being introduced as the new Head Coach of baseball at Southwestern Assem...

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SAGU hands reigns to Baseball Lions

SAGU hands reigns to Baseball Lions

Jul 12, 2013 - Baseball News

Sam Blackmon signed as new Head Coach Jesse Godding, A.D., weighs in on baseball challenges  WAXAHACHIE, Texas  --  The Athletic Department at Southwestern Assemblies of...

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Lions land pitcher, Ortiz III

Lions land pitcher, Ortiz III

Jul 08, 2013 - Baseball News

Left-hander hails from Lorena, Texas Assistant Coach Rickman 'Votes for Pedro' WAXAHACHIE, Texas  --  The third member of this year’s baseball recruiting class has a...

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SAGU lands All-State pitcher

SAGU lands All-State pitcher

Jun 10, 2013 - Baseball News

Westlake's Tucker Burt commits to Lions Faith, joining the Sooner Athletic Conference draws recruit WAXAHACHIE, Texas  --  The Southwestern Assemblies of God University b...

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Josh Terry inks deal, links family bond to SAGU

Josh Terry inks deal, links family bond to SAGU

May 18, 2013 - Baseball News

Infielder follows brother Jared Terry to Lions Soft-talker from Lone Star, Tx carries big stick WAXAHACHIE, Texas  --  A small city with a mighty name. Lone Star, Texas...

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Baseball Recap: Young Lions emerging

Baseball Recap: Young Lions emerging

May 10, 2013 - Baseball News

Freshman-laden squad building new core Denton, Thomas, Pisors, Threadgill among top players WAXAHACHIE, Texas  --  The 2013 baseball season for the Southwestern Assemblies of G...

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Denton makes grade for character

Denton makes grade for character

May 01, 2013 - Baseball News

RRAC lists Champions of Character LSU-Shreveport rallies to win RRAC tourney WAXAHACHIE, Texas  --  The Red River Athletic Conference office in Waco announced its post-season h...

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Lions strand 22 baserunners in twinbill

Lions strand 22 baserunners in twinbill

Apr 21, 2013 - Baseball News

SAGU loses lead late in both games Denton, Thomas collect five hits apiece WAXAHACHIE, Texas  --  The Southwestern Assemblies of God University baseball team wrapped up their 2...

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Saturday doubleheader on campus

Saturday doubleheader on campus

Apr 19, 2013 - Baseball News

Today's single game rained out Pisors, Turley to start vs Tillotson WAXAHACHIE, Texas  --  The Southwestern Assemblies of God University baseball team will wrap-up the 2013 sea...

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Baseball Lions play final games at home

Baseball Lions play final games at home

Apr 17, 2013 - Baseball News

SAGU meets Tillotson on Friday, Saturday Reduced squad falls to Dallas Christian on Tuesday WAXAHACHIE, Texas  --  The Southwestern Assemblies of God University baseball team w...

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Lions show mettle in Forth Worth

Lions show mettle in Forth Worth

Apr 14, 2013 - Baseball News

Squad show no signs of winding down SAGU plays DH Tuesday in downtown Dallas FORTH WORTH, Texas  --  A recent slide by the baseball team at Southwestern Assemblies of God Unive...

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Lions face Wesleyan in Ft. Worth

Lions face Wesleyan in Ft. Worth

Apr 12, 2013 - Baseball News

Hard-working Fletcher earns first start SAGU's youth movement continues WAXAHACHIE, Texas  --  Southwestern Assemblies of God University has seven games remaining in a sea...

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Lions topped by LSU-Shreveport

Lions topped by LSU-Shreveport

Apr 07, 2013 - Baseball News

Freshmen shine: Mee drives in Cross for clutch run Frosh pitchers turn in gutsy effort; Umphenour, Turley, Chitty, Pisors WAXAHACHIE, Texas  --  The Southwestern Assemblies of ...

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Lions corral Mustangs for 10-8 road win

Lions corral Mustangs for 10-8 road win

Mar 31, 2013 - Baseball News

Rodriguez late homer keys 16-hit attack Cox, Chitty earn 2nd win, first save on the mound HOBBS, New Mexico  --  Enrique Rodriguez (Ft. Worth, Tx / Nolan HS) doubled to st...

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Stray Cats cost Lions in Muskogee

Stray Cats cost Lions in Muskogee

Mar 24, 2013 - Baseball News

Rodriguez collects 3 hits in setback to Bacone SAGU prepares for big series in New Mexico WAXAHACHIE, Texas  --  Scattered like dandelion fluff in a brisk wind, so were baserun...

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Baseball Lions caged twice at Bacone

Baseball Lions caged twice at Bacone

Mar 23, 2013 - Baseball News

Chitty has solid effort on the hill SAGU plays single game Saturday at 1:00pm MUSKOGEE, Oklahoma  --  Jared Denton (Mission, Tx / Sharyland HS) and Justin Dossey (Aubrey, Tx / ...

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Baseball Lions blanked by Texas College

Baseball Lions blanked by Texas College

Mar 18, 2013 - Baseball News

Missed chances in 8-7 loss prove costly SAGU faces Bacone in OK next weekend WAXAHACHIE, Texas  --  A week after sweeping Wiley College, the Southwestern Assemblies of God Univ...

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Grand Slam leads to Lions loss

Grand Slam leads to Lions loss

Mar 13, 2013 - Baseball News

Loss to Mountaineers snaps 3-game winning streak SAGU hosts Texas College on Friday and Saturday WAXAHACHIE, Texas  --  A grand slam homer off the bat of Brad Holmes proved dec...

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Baseball Lions take two from Wiley

Baseball Lions take two from Wiley

Mar 10, 2013 - Baseball News

Dossey, Chitty earn wins in relief SAGU hosts four home games this week WAXAHACHIE, Texas  -- Driven by full sails gained from a bottom-of-the-ninth, come-from-behind win on Friday...

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SAGU baseball sweeps Wiley

SAGU baseball sweeps Wiley

Mar 10, 2013 - Baseball News

Team rallies twice in extra-innings Lions end skid of losing 14 straight RRAC series WAXAHACHIE, Texas  --  For the first time in five years the Southwestern Assem...

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Baseball Lions upend Wiley, 4-3

Baseball Lions upend Wiley, 4-3

Mar 09, 2013 - Baseball News

Froelich delivers game-winner in ninth SAGU hosts Saturday twinbill at noon    WAXAHACHIE, Texas  --  For the fifth time this season the Southwestern Assemb...

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Baseball, Softball Updates

Baseball, Softball Updates

Mar 04, 2013 - Baseball News

Lions welcome Wiley on Fri/Sat Lady Lions host Northwood on Thurs WAXAHACHIE, Texas  --  The baseball and softball teams from Southwestern Assemblies of God University will be ...

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Baseball Lions begin conference season

Baseball Lions begin conference season

Feb 22, 2013 - Baseball News

Three-game series vs. Jarvis this weekend Killebrew, Pisors will start the first two games WAXAHACHIE, Texas  --  The young baseball team from Southwestern Assemblies of God Un...

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Lions out-roar, outlast Coyotes

Lions out-roar, outlast Coyotes

Feb 14, 2013 - Baseball News

SAGU earns split of 4-game series Baseball team wins twice with late rallies WAXAHACHIE, Texas  --  The Southwestern Assemblies of God University baseball team battled a perenn...

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Lions split DH with Kansas Wesleyan

Lions split DH with Kansas Wesleyan

Feb 14, 2013 - Baseball News

Team travels to Ozark Mountains today Four-games vs. Ecclesia College on Fri/Sat WAXAHACHIE, Texas  --  The new look, new attitude Southwestern Assemblies of God University men...

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Baseball, Softball at home today

Baseball, Softball at home today

Feb 08, 2013 - Baseball News

Lady Lions play on campus, Lions at WSC WAXAHACHIE, Texas  --  The start of the 2013 softball season commences today for Southwestern Assemblies of God University with a doublehead...

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Lions enjoy sweet sweep of victory

Lions enjoy sweet sweep of victory

Feb 06, 2013 - Baseball News

SAGU takes pair from Crusaders Play of Pitchers and Denton is plenty WAXAHACHIE, Texas  --  Like a busy tailor, the Southwestern Assemblies of God University baseball team has ...

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