Eastern Illinois University baseball coach Jim Schmitz has today announced the signing of three JUCO transfer students to a NLI last week, including 2 from the same school.

In-fielder Chad Watson (Owensboro, KY/Daviess County) signs out of Lincoln Trail. Pitcher Jared Gurley (Carterville/Carterville) and infielder Blake Meyer (Nashville/Nashville) are coming from John A. Logan.

The starting 1st baseman, Watson played in the 2003 Great Rivers Athletic Conference All-Star game. He hit .324 in 149 at bat recording twenty five runs, five homers, nine doubles and 39 RBI. He walked 25 times and stole two bases. A three time all conference player at Daviess County, he hit .582 with 46 RBI as a junior. That .582 average was the best batting average statewide and he participated in the Kentucky East/West All-Star game. During his senior year he hit seven home runs and drove in 36 while hitting .395.

According to Lincoln Trail coach Mitch Hannah, “Chad is a very athletic 1st baseman with fantastic potential.”

Meyer hit .341 last spring in 182 at bats registering 43 runs scored, six doubles, 34 RBI and was not caught stealing a base in 10 attempts. Highly rated out of high school, he was named Illinois Baseball Coaches Association First Team All-State in 2002 and finished 10th in the IHSA hitting derby.

Schmitz thinks Watson should fill Eastern Illinois University’s need for a left-handed power hitter.

“Chad is the power hitter we were looking for all fall. We will be losing left-handed power (Kyle Haines) and believe Chad will fill that position and give our line-up some balance,” said Schmitz. “He comes highly recommended from Coach Hannah who I’ve known for a long time during his tenure at Indiana State. Hannah said Watson would be recruited hard this spring if he was still available.”

Eastern Illinois University gets another left-handed bat and a 6-2 right-handed pitcher from perennial power John A. Logan.

Twice named All Southern Illinois River-to-River Conference, Meyer broke Nashville season records with a .495 batting average and .615 on-base percentage his senior year. Over his final two years, Meyers recorded 20 doubles, 41 RBI , 76 runs scored and 24 stolen bases.

“Blake is a great competitor and outstanding athlete. He runs the sixty in 6.8 seconds with an above average arm,” said John A. Logan coach Jerry Halstead. “He turns the double play very well and handles the bat in the two hole. He’s the best athlete on our 2004 squad with numerous Division I signees.”

“I wanted Blake out of high school and followed him for the last 2 years. He will fill our need for a leadoff hitter and 2nd baseman. He’s a very polished hitter with great speed.”

Said Schmitz, “Jared is a big, strong guy who is capable of throwing in the low to mid 90s. We expect him to come in and close many games for us over next 2 years.

“We are fortunate to sign Jared and Blake. Coach Halstead has one of the top JUCO programs in the country,” stated Schmitz.

“We lost some players during the last 2 years to grades and MLB signings. We needed to sign JUCO players to fill those gaps,” said Schmitz. “These three will compliment the 15 freshmen we have on our team this year.

The Panthers finished 26-31 overall last year, advancing to the Ohio Valley Conference Tournament semifinals. Needing to replace players lost the last couple of years, Schmitz believes these three can step in and help immediately.

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