Ten recruits across six states. A pervasive and diligent recruiting effort culminated Thursday for head baseball coach Brian Schmack and his coaching staff with the signing of ten student-athletes set to begin their Crusader careers in 2016-17.
"First and foremost, I want to thank (recruiting coordinator) Ben (Wolgamot) and (assistant coach) Nic (Mishler) for their work in identifying the caliber of student-athlete that fits not only our team, but also Valparaiso University. With twelve seniors on our current roster, it was critical that we added both quality and quantity, and this class addresses both needs. I'm very pleased with the quality young men that we are welcoming into our program," Schmack said.
Christian Barczi (Naperville, Ill./Naperville North), Riley Dent (Long Beach, Calif./Wilson), Jayden Eggimann (Mesa, Ariz./Desert Ridge [Central Arizona/Grand Canyon]), Steven Fitzsimmons (Golden Valley, Minn./Robbinsdale Cooper), Hayden Kissee (Cumberland, Ind./Greenfield Central [Kaskaskia College]), Blake Lutgen (Strafford, Mo./Strafford), Easton Rhodehouse (Gilbert, Ariz./Highland), Josh Sidney (San Diego, Calif./Torrey Pines), Jon Tiemann (Crystal Lake, Ill./Prairie Ridge), Zack Turnbough (Schererville, Ind./Lake Central) all signed National Letters of Intent (NLI) with Valparaiso this week.
Christian Barczi- Naperville North HS (IL) 6’1 190 lbs R/R C
- Top 10 catcher in the state of Illinois and the #72 overall prospect in the state- rated by Prep Baseball Report
- Son of Scott and Debra Barczi, siblings are Kayla and Colin Barczi
- Plays with the Naperville Renegades & Cangelosi Blacksox
- Plans to study communications
Christian on why Valpo: “I chose Valpo because it was the perfect distance from home, had great academics, and had great baseball. Once I got on campus I felt very comfortable and knew right away that I wanted to spend my next four years here.”
Cangelosi Head Coach Tyler Thompson on Christian: “Christian possesses all the tools needed to be an impact player at the Division I level. He has exceptional arm strength and the physicality to drive the baseball. His overall athleticism will allow him to compete as soon as he hits campus next fall.”
Head baseball coach Brian Schmack on Barczi: “Christian is a physical right-handed hitting catcher who continues to get better and better every time we see him. “
Riley Dent- Long Beach Wilson HS (CA) 5’11 170 lbs L/R OF
- As a Junior: Batting 329 Games 31 PA 94 AB 85 Runs 18 Hits 28 2B 5 3B 2 HR 1 RBI 8 OBP 387 SO 10 SB 9 BB 7
- Year 1st team All Moore League
- Selected to All Star Scout team representing North Team
- Summer program is Midland, also played for the Red Sox Scout Team
- Son of Rick and Stacy Dent. One brother, Ryan, who was a 1st round pick of the Boston Red Sox in 2007
- Plans to study business
Riley on why Valpo: “I chose Valpo because the campus was unreal, they offer a wide variety of classes, and most of all, during the recruiting process they were the only coaches to make me feel like family.”
Long Beach Wilson Head Coach Andy Hall on Riley: “Riley is a very athletic center fielder and player. He has a great competitive spirit and knowledge of the game. He has an uncanny ability to change the momentum of a game quickly.”
Schmack on Dent: “Riley oozes with athleticism and can go get the baseball in the outfield. His skill set will play well for us right away.”
Jayden Eggimann- Central Arizona JC/Grand Canyon University 5’11 190 lbs R/R UTL
- Named Perfect Game USA West Region Honorable Mention as a senior
- 2013 - All-Gilbert First Team and East Valley Tribune Honorable Mention selection
- Two years at Desert Ridge posted a .332 average in 59 games with 62 hits, 10 HRs, 51 RBIs
- Spent his Freshman year at WAC champion Grand Canyon University
- Son of Tami and Matt Eggimann and brother to Savannah and Landon Eggimann
- Plans to study business
Jayden on why Valpo: “I chose Valpo because of the goal that is in order and the family atmosphere that is brought forth by the team and coaches all together.”
Central Arizona Head Coach Anthony Gillich on Eggimann: “You guys are getting a true competitor. I have not come across too many players that have the passion to win, but also the willingness to work as Jayden has shown. Because of his athleticism he can play both the infield and outfield. He’s a good get."
Schmack on Eggimann: “Jayden is a great athlete who has the ability to play multiple positions and find himself in the middle of the order. “
Steven Fitzsimmons- Robbinsdale Cooper HS (MN) 6’0 175 lbs L/L OF
- Ranked #1 OF and #15 overall prospect in Minnesota by Perfect Game.
- Ranked #16 overall prospect in Minnesota by Prep Baseball Report
- 4 Perfect Game All-Tournament Team selections in the past year while playing for Twin Cities Baseball Academy
- Son of Jim and Debbie Fitzsimmons, Steven is a triplet with Drew and Sofie, he also has a younger brother Willie
- Plans to study business management
Steven on why Valpo: “I chose Valpo because I felt extremely comfortable on my visit. One thing that stuck out to me is that the Valpo community seems very tight-knit and supportive. I know it's a place where I can reach my full potential on and off the field. “
Robbinsdale Cooper Head Coach Tim Palm on Fitzsimmons: “Steven is a guy who can play all phases of the game well and is a great teammate.”
Schmack on Fitzsimmons: “Fitzy is a great defender and a baseball player who knows his strengths and plays the game the right way.”
Hayden Kissee- Kaskaskia JC (IL) 6’0 200 lbs RHP
- High School: All-Conference and All-County junior and senior year.
- Kaskaskia: 64.0 Innings pitched, 2.99 ERA, 43 strikeouts, 18 walks, .215 opponent batting average.
- Son of Karen and Louie Kissee- two sisters Hanna and Haley
- Plans to study exercise science
Hayden on why Valpo: "I chose Valpo because I felt like it was the best opportunity to better my game on and off the field."
Kaskaskia Head Coach Mitch Koester on Kissee: “Hayden is a talented right-handed pitcher that will be an immediate impact next year. He has the ability to throw three pitches for strikes and command to zone. I'm excited for Hayden to be joining the Valpo family."
Schmack on Kissee: “Hayden is a strong RHP who competes in the zone with three pitches and will fit in well with our philosophy.”
Blake Lutgen- Strafford HS (MO) 6’0 185 lbs L/R INF
- Sophomore Year .411 Batting Average, 37 Hits, 36 Runs, 6 Home runs, 31 RBI's, .481 OB%, .681SLG%
- Junior Year.428 Batting Average, 32 Hits, 29 Runs, 3 Home runs, 33 RBI's, .556 OB%, .707 SLG%
- Named 1st Team All-Mid Lakes Conference unanimous decision as a sophomore and junior
- named 2nd Team All-District 10 Class 3 as a sophomore and 1st Team All-District 10 Class 3 as a junior
- Chosen as one of the Magnificent 11's by the Ozark Baseball Preview and recognized as one of the areas High School All-Stars
- Summer program is the Midwest Nationals
- Blake is the son of Robert and ChristyLutgen...has a brother Zak.
- Plans to study pre-med/biochemistry
Blake on why Valpo: “Valparaiso University felt like home to me. The coaches and team immediately felt like family and it is also an amazing opportunity to have the privilege to play the game I love with a great program such as Valpo.”
Strafford Head Baseball Coach on Blake: "Blake is an outstanding young man, both on and off the field. He is a big-time leader for us and one of the hardest workers I have ever coached. Blake is a "dirtbag", a kid that can never get enough ground balls or take enough hacks in the cage. He is phenomenal at the plate and a fun guy to watch hit because there is always the potential to see him do something special. Defensively, he has played shortstop and second base. He is an intelligent infielder who continues to work hard at becoming a great baseball player. I believe he will be a great addition to the Valparaiso baseball team."
Schmack on Lutgen: “Blake was one of the better bats we came across all summer and look forward to seeing him develop into a middle of the order threat.”
Easton Rhodehouse- Highland HS (AZ) 6’3 185 lbs RHP
- Played for Angels Scout Team
- Son of Matt and Bridgette Rhodehouse, has two siblings Lailey and Ellidy
- Plans to study business
Easton on why Valpo: “I loved the coaching staff and I felt the program was very promising at developing players and winning games!”
Highland HS Head Coach, Scott Cook on Easton: "Easton is a competitor on the mound. He goes right at hitters and will give you his best effort every time he goes out. He works hard at getting better every day. He will only get better as he gets bigger and stronger. He is a pleasure to coach because he is willing to learn and work on doing what it takes to get better. He will help your program over the next four years."
Schmack on Rhodehouse: “Easton’s athleticism shows on the mound and has an electric arm who could be a front line guy by the time he leaves here.”
Josh Sidney- Torrey Pines HS (CA) 6’5 185 lbs RHP
- Heading into third season in the starting rotation for the Kirk McCaskill-led Torrey Pines Falcons...team won the competitive Palomar League in 2015, and was a San Diego Section Open Division semi-finalist…went 5-3 with 5 complete games and a 2.04 ERA as a ..missed a no-hitter with 2 outs in the 7th on an infield single…named honorable mention as a junior in pitching-deep league...has earned Honor Roll in the classroom every year to date
- Played for the Solano Beach Cardinals with Jon Lukens and the Padres Scout Team
- Son of John and Marie Sidney, older brother Nick
- Plans to study political science
Josh on why Valpo: “Very impressed with the coaches and team camaraderie. Seems like a great environment to PTD. Valpo presents an ideal academic environment, with small class sizes, and a high student-to-faculty ratio. Commitment to academics is reflected by a #1 ranking in Washington Monthly, and US News rankings of #1 for best value, #2 for undergraduate teaching, #4 for baccalaureate origin of PhDs and #5 overall in its region.”
San Diego Padres Scout John Elliot on Josh: “Josh is a great teammate with the talent to play beyond college. I hope he helps Valpo reach their goals and that he reaches his.”
Schmack on Sidney: “Josh knows how to pitch and as he gets bigger and stronger, has the chance to win some baseball games for us.”
Jon Tiemann- Prairie Ridge HS (IL) 6’1 180 lbs RHP
- All Area honorable mention as a Junior
- Team Illinois participant
- First team All-Area Football, All Conference, and Academic All-State
- Son of Larry and Sharon Tieman, siblings are Phillip and Andrew
- Plans to study business
Jon on why Valpo: “I wanted a school with great academics but also a solid baseball program and Valpo just seemed like the right fit.”
Prairie Ridge head coach Pecoraco on Jon: “We call JT the silent Assassin because he is very quiet but all business on the bump. JT has outstanding command of 3 pitches and shows no emotion no matter the situation.”
Schmack on Tieman: “A projectable arm that attacks hitters and should develop well as he continues his career here.”
Zack Turnbough- Lake Central H.S. (IN) 6’0 190 lbs L/R INF
- He set a state single-season record with 14 triples, a mark that had stood since 1976.
- Ranked 3rd nationally for triples in the season
- .385 with 36 RBIs and 35 runs scored
- 1st Team All- Conference as a Junior
- 2nd Team All- Area NWI Times
- Summer Team Indiana Bulls
- Son of Lee and Karen Turnbough, has two sisters Ashlee and Kailee
- Plans to study business
Zack on why Valpo: “I chose Valpo because I think it is a great school and close enough for my parents to see me play. It is a great program and the academics will set me up for a good career in business after college.”
Lake Central Head Coach Jeff Sandor on Turnbough: “Zack’s maturity and growth as a player is commendable. He was rewarded with a great high school career and opportunity to participate in Division 1 athletics. We couldn’t be prouder of the player he has become.”
Schmack on Turnbough: “Zack is a versatile player whose left handed swing has the ability to produce extra base hits as he broke the state of Indiana’s triples record.”
The announcement of the 2016-17 recruiting class comes one day after the team released its 2016 schedule.