Valparaiso head baseball coach Tracy Woodson has added seven more commitments as well as two Division I transfers to the incoming class of 2011. The Crusaders have added pitchers Connor Buxton, Brandon Pease, and Cole Schaenzer along with position players John Loeffler, Elliot Martin, Kyle Schneider, and Tanner Vavra. Additionally, catcher/pitcher Zack Walsh is transferring from the University of Connecticut while pitcher Sean Kennedy transferred from Jacksonville University this past winter. This brings the total number of new players to 18 for the 2012 baseball season.
“We have a solid group of guys coming back next year from last year’s team,” Woodson said. “We are excited to be adding several key pieces to build off of what we accomplished this past season. I feel like we will have the potential to be serious contenders once again for the Horizon League title. We have a good mix of young, eager newcomers as well as several experienced transfers that we believe can fill some of the holes that need to be filled. We should have depth at every position.”
Connor Buxton (Crystal Lake, Ill./Crystal Lake Central H.S.) is a 6-1, 190-pound right-handed pitcher transferring from Kishwaukee College. Buxton was in the starting rotation the past two seasons for the Kougars and finished the 2011 season with a 4.62 ERA with 48.2 innings pitched, striking out 49 while walking 23. He will have two years of eligibility remaining when he arrives at Valpo.
Brandon Pease (New Haven, Ind./New Haven H.S.) is a 5-11, 180-pound left-handed pitcher who finished the 2011 season with a record of 12-2 on the mound with 134 strikeouts and only 17 walks in 79.1 innings of work. He posted a 1.53 ERA for the season for the New Haven Bulldogs and his performance earned him the honors of IHSBCA First Team All-State (3A), First Team All-Northeast Hoosier Conference (NHC), Allen County Voice Baseball Player of the Year and News-Sentinel Baseball Player of the Year.
Cole Schaenzer (Oxford, Mich./Lake Orion H.S.), a 6-3, 190-pound right-handed pitcher, finished the 2011 season being named All-League, All-District, and Academic All-District. The senior from Lake Orion High School posted a 4-1 record and two saves with a 1.42 ERA in 29.2 innings and had 28 strikeouts. Schaenzer also hit .380 with 28 runs scored, 14 RBIs, and seven stolen bases. A two-sport athlete, he guided the school’s football team to a Michigan State Championship this past year.
John Loeffler (Burnsville, Minn./Burnsville Senior H.S.) is a 6-1, 220-pound utility player that comes from Des Moines Area Community College. The junior college transfer finished the 2011 season with a .328 batting average and a .492 on-base percentage with 19 doubles and six home runs. Loeffler helped guide DMACC to the 2011 NJCAA Division II World Series in Enid, Okla. and was named DII Second Team All-Region. He will have two years of eligibility remaining when he arrives at Valpo.
Elliot Martin (Irvine, Calif./University H.S.), a 5-11, 195-pound infielder, is a junior college transfer from Saddleback College in California. Martin is one of several players that have come from the Orange Empire Conference the last couple of years to come play for coach Woodson. Martin was a model of consistency for Saddleback, starting all 36 games and batting .301 while leading the team with 104 assists in the field. He was named Second Team All-OEC for his outstanding performance this spring. He will have two years of eligibility remaining when he arrives at Valpo.
Kyle Schneider (Mishawaka, Ind./Penn H.S.) is a 5-11, 190-pound corner infielder and right-handed pitcher. Schneider led Penn High School to a 26-5 record with a Northern Indiana Conference (NIC) and 4A Sectional Championship. Schneider finished the 2011 season with a .361 batting average, nine doubles, six homeruns, and 32 RBIs. Just as strong on the mound, Schneider finished with a record of 6-2 posting a 1.78 ERA, 42 strikeouts, and two saves, while limiting opponents to a .176 batting average in 55 innings of work. He was honored for his performance by being selected to South Bend Tribune/WSBT Metro Sportsfest Team, NIC Second Team All-Conference, and Penn High School Baseball 2011 Most Valuable Player.
Tanner Vavra (Menomonie, Wis./ Menomonie H.S.), a 5-11, 185-pound infielder, is a junior college transfer from Madison College. Vavra was named to the 2011 Division II All-North Central District/Region IV Team as well as being named an NJCAA Third Team All-American. Vavra, who helped the WolfPack to a third place showing at the Junior College World Series, was a clubhouse leader all season long. Vavra tallied a team-high .421 batting average, 64 runs, and four triples. He will have two years of eligibility remaining when he arrives at Valpo.
Zack Walsh (Batesville, Ind./Batesville H.S.) is a 6-2, 200-pound catcher and right-handed pitcher transferring from Connecticut. As a senior in high school, Walsh earned 2010 EIAC All-Conference honors and was named a Rawlings All-American Midwest Region. Leading Batesville High School to the 2010 EIAC Championship title, Walsh hit .588 with 32 RBIs and 14 stolen bases.
Sean Kennedy (Gurnee, Ill./Warren H.S.), a 6-0, 180-pound pitcher, will have three years of eligibility remaining after sitting out this past spring due to his transfer from Jacksonville. As a senior in high school, Kennedy earned First Team All-Conference, All-Area and All-State honors after going 4-3 with a 2.75 ERA and 72 strikeouts in 63 innings while batting .388 with seven home runs and 30 RBI. During his freshman year at Jacksonville in the spring of 2010, Kennedy had 19 appearances out of the bullpen for the Dolphins. He recorded 16 strikeouts and only six walks in 22.2 innings pitched.