12 NCAA Division I Signees Highlight 16 T-Bird Baseball Players Moving On to Four-Year Colleges

Cloud County Community College Athletics
Cloud County Community College Athletics

Cloud County Community College head baseball coach Eric Gilliland has announced that 16 players from the 2022 baseball team have signed Letters of Intent to play at four-year universities, with 12 inking NCAA Division I Letters of Intent.

In addition to the early signing period signees of Ian Riiley (Dallas Baptist University), Aaron Hayes (Missouri State University), Christian Womble (Jackson State University), Ty Wevers (Canisius College), and Brady Kobitowich (Niagara University), the T-Birds have also seen Giordano Mezzomo (Washington State University), Jack Mount (Washington State University), Tom Poole (Dallas Baptist University), Haden Dow (Southeast Missouri State University),  Rans Sanders (University of Nebraska-Omaha), Joel Benes (University of Nebraska-Omaha), Conner Woods (Stephen F. Austin), Adler Pierson (Hawaii Pacific University), Jacob Shaw (Northwestern Oklahoma State University), Willie Ponce (Eastern New Mexico University), and Jacob Aberg (Peru State College) join the list of former T-Birds to play at the four-year level.

"This class left a historic mark on our program the last two years" remarked Gilliland. "Having 16 of them move on is something we take great pride in." "We have players transferring to schools all over the country from the east coast to the west coast and they all stopped at Cloud along the way." "We are excited to follow their careers and appreciate all they did for our program."

Fans can read about each of the 11 recent signees below, with information regarding the five early signing period signees (Riley, Hayes, Womble, Wevers, and Kobitowich) found here: Cloud County Baseball Has Five Sign NCAA Division I Letters of Intent.

Gio Mezzomo – Making two postseason appearances on the mound as part of 12 total appearances for Cloud County, Mezzomo would start seven games for CCCC and earn four victories to go along with 61 strikeouts in just 37 innings pitched. Holding opponents to a .278 batting average against with his 61 strikeouts equating to a 14.8 strikeout/nine inning ratio.

Jack Mount – One of four Cloud County players to be named Second-Team All-Kansas Jayhawk Community College Conference West Division this past year, Mount would settle in as CCCC's game three starter in conference play and make 11 starts as part of 14 total appearances on the mound for the T-Birds. Going 3-2 in 55.2 innings pitched this past year, Mount would throw a season-long six innings against Garden City Community College on April 9th while recording a career-best 12 strikeouts against Seward County on April 24th. In total, Mount would strike out 75 batters which ranked 12th among all KJCCC pitchers and eighth in the KJCCC West Division.

Tom Poole – The KJCCC home run leader and CCCC single-season record holder, Poole would blast 23 long balls in 2022 with five coming in the postseason as part of his 59 games played that included 58 total starts. Garnering Second-Team All-KJCCC West Division Honors, Poole would also be named KJCCC Baseball Player of the Week after hitting .500 and driving in 14 runs as part of a 6-0 week for the T-Birds that included a four-game sweep of Garden City. For the year, Poole hit .366 at the plate with 71 RBIs and 40 extra-base hits while recording a slugging percentage of .863.

Haden Dow – Coming back from an injury that kept him out the entire 2021 season, Dow would make 12 appearances and eight starts on the mound for CCCC while throwing 38.1 innings and going 3-2 overall. Of his eight starts, five would come in KJCCC West Division play with a career-best 10 strikeout performance coming on March 14th against Colby in five innings of work. Dow would follow up the next week with a career-long six-inning outing while striking out eight to pick up a win over Pratt Community College and finish the year with 48 strikeouts.

Rans Sanders – A Second-Team All-KJCCC West Division selection, Sanders would make 18 appearances for Cloud County in relief on the mound while going on to tie the single-season save record at Cloud County with seven saves in addition to setting the career-save record of 13. Throwing 29.1 innings, Sanders would allow just eight earned runs on 18 hits and struck out 30 batters in 105 at-bats to hold opponents to just a .171 batting average against. In addition to the seven saves, Sanders would post a 3-1 record on the mound and finish the year with a team-best 2.45 earned run average.

Joel Benes – Both an offensive threat and pitching threat, Benes would appear in 42 total games while making five starts as a pitcher and 11 total appearances on the mound. At the plate, Benes would drive in 22 runs and hit six home runs while drawing 15 walks and recording an on-base percentage of .413 while also going a perfect 6-0 on the mound for CCCC. In his first pitching start in conference play against Hutchinson On April 16th, Benes would pick up the victory after throwing five innings and striking out five while allowing just three hits before striking out nine in his next pitching outing as part of a seven-inning performance at Seward County. Three of the 11 appearances for Benes on the mound would come in postseason play, with two of the appearances leading to wins in elimination games for CCCC with their season on the line.

Conner Woods – The most-used pitcher on the CCCC pitching staff, Woods would make 22 appearances throughout the year which included four starts while picking up three wins and recording four saves on the year. The 22 appearances by a pitcher set a career record at Cloud County with his two-year total of 37 appearances with the T-Birds finishing one shy of the career record. Making his second start of the season on April 21st against Seward County, Woods would strike out a career-best 11 batters and finish one batter short of Cloud County's first complete-game no-hitter since 1999 while going on to earn KJCCC Player of the Week and KJCCC West Division Honorable Mention All-Conference honors.

Adler Pierson – A versatile infielder who played three different positions throughout the year, Pierson would play in 42 games and make 39 starts while finishing the year with a .306 batting average with 34 hits in 111 at-bats. Finishing his career in black and gold tied for the career-record in hit-by-pitches (32), 10 of Pierson's 34 hits would go for extra bases while the Wamego, Kansas native drove in 25 runs and stole 12 bases.

Jacob Shaw – Making 11 appearances on the mound in relief for the T-Birds, Shaw would throw a total of 10.1 innings and pick up one win during the 2022 campaign. Throwing a season-long 2.0 innings in the NJCAA Region VI Tournament against Neosho on May 11th, Shaw would finish the season with 17 strikeouts compared to just three walks with 12 of his 17 strikeouts coming against KJCCC foes.

Willie Ponce – Starting 29 of the 34 games he appeared in, Ponce would record five multi-hit games including a three-hit performance on March third as part of CCCC's season-high nine-game winning streak. Driving in 11 total runs in 95 at-bats, Ponce would collect eight extra-base hits and draw 14 walks to go along with four stolen bases.

Jacob Aberg – Aberg appeared in 13 games for CCCC this past season, making two starts and driving in three runs for the T-Birds. Aberg would finish the year with a .308 batting average while drawing two walks and being hit by a pitch once.