Demons add seven signees in early period for baseball
NATCHITOCHES – The Northwestern State baseball family grew by seven at the outset of the early signing period.
First-year head coach Chris Bertrand announced Monday the addition of seven players in the NSU signing class of 2024.
Joining the NSU program are catchers Austin Ellis and Mason Wray, right-handed pitchers Trent Hillen and Kaden McCoy, and infielders Hudson Brignac, Cooper McEnroe and Zach White.
“We are excited about building upon the work we did this summer to put together our current roster,” Bertrand said. “When you look at the hard work our staff put in to build the roster and the ability to take this class and add on to it, we are continuing to stack bricks, and we feel the future is in really good hands.”
Hudson Brignac, MIF, 5-7, 150, R/R, Benton, La. (Benton HS)
High School: Three-year letterman for coaches JD Stephens’ and Dane Peavy’s Tigers … helped lead the Benton to three straight District 1-5A championships … earned first-team all-district honors as a junior … honorable mention all-district pick as a sophomore … has helped Benton post a 68-36-2 mark in his three seasons … member of the National Honor Society and Beta Club … has a 3.6 GPA.
Bertrand on Brignac: “Hudson really caught our eye at camp with the way he defended and the arm strength he showed across the diamond. We really think he has a chance to be an elite-level defender, and as his career blossoms, we’ll see where we can take the offense. We’re really excited about adding depth to the middle infield as we graduate some of the older guys who have held those spots down.”
Austin Ellis, C, 5-10, 220, R/R, Saratoga Springs, Utah (Mountain Ridge HS)
High School: Two-year letterman for coach Brock Whitney’s Sentinels … earned first-team all-state and all-region honors as a junior, hitting .389 with a .610 on-base percentage … named first-team all-region as a freshman, batting .419 with a .678 on-base percentage … helped Mountain Ridge reach the playoffs each season, including a 21-10 mark and a semifinal berth in his junior season … four-year hockey letterman has started every game since his freshman season and helped Mountain Ridge win the Class 6A state title … honor roll student has a 3.98 GPA and is an Academic All-State selection … member of the school senate and has overview of athletics.
Assistant coach/recruiting coordinator Dylan Belanger on Ellis: “Big, physical, strong catcher who has pull-side pop. He can fill the role of Bo Willis when he graduates. He is originally from Dallas, which is how we got to know him.”
Trent Hillen, RHP, 6-3, 220, R/R, Morgan City, La. (Central Catholic HS/Jones College)
Prior to NSU: Spent two seasons at Nicholls, redshirting in 2022 … made three appearances for the 2023 Southland Conference regular-season and tournament champions … pitched in the summer for the Acadiana Cane Cutters of the Texas Collegiate League and earned one TCL Pitcher of the Week honor … Dean’s List student has a 3.5 GPA.
High School: Four-year letterman for the Eagles … first-team all-district and all-state as a senior, going 8-1 on the mound with 96 strikeouts and a 2.88 ERA … was 3-0 with a 0.00 ERA and 34 strikeouts before the COVID-19 pandemic ended his junior season … first-team all-district and all-state as a sophomore, going 6-3 with 72 strikeouts and a 2.28 ERA … helped Central Catholic win three district titles and reach the state semifinals as a sophomore … three-time Academic All-State selection … two-year football letterman … helped Central Catholic to a 13-7 record and a pair of playoff berths across two seasons … graduated with a 3.8 GPA.
Belanger on Hillen: “Trent is a big, 6-foot-3, 220-pound right-hander. He has a chance to be a front-end starter the minute he walks on campus. He pitched for (NSU graduate manager) Joe (Craighead) last summer, and he’ll pitch again for him this summer with the Acadiana Cane Cutters.”
Kaden McCoy, RHP, 5-9, 160, L/R, Humble, Texas (Atascocita HS)
High School: Three-year letterman for coaches Eric Matthews’ and Jeremy O’Neill’s Eagles … named first-team all-district as a utility player as a junior … helped lead the Eagles to the second round of the playoffs as a junior … earned second-team all-district honors at third base as a sophomore.
Belanger on McCoy: “He was a kid who came to our camps multiple times. He has some family in the area and really, really wanted to be a Demon. He has a chance to pitch out of the bullpen as soon as he gets on campus. He’s got a three-pitch mix with a good fastball.”
Cooper McEnroe, 3B, 6-1, 210, R/R, Klein, Texas (Cain HS)
High School: Three-year letterman for coaches Neil Wisener and David Miller’s Hurricanes … second-team all-district selection as a junior … unanimous choice as a first-team all-district utility player as a sophomore … earned underclassman MVP honors as a freshman … helped Cain reach the UIL playoffs as a sophomore … academic all-district selection has a 4.6 GPA.
Bertrand on McEnroe: “He’s the type of guy who catches your eye the first time you see him play, which is what happened in our case. He plays for a quality high school and for Hunter Pence Baseball, where we have had a lot of success. From the first time I watched him play, what sticks out is how hard he plays. He’s our type of player. He’s a hard-working, blue-collar, grinding kind of kid. We think he can hold down both corner infield spots and has a tremendous amount of potential with the bat.”
Zach White, MIF, 5-8, 160, S/R, Baytown, Texas (Robert E. Lee HS)
High School: Four-year letterman for coach David Schmidt’s Ganders … earned first-team all-district honors at second base as a junior … has a 3.7 GPA.
Bertrand on White: “We really got a relationship going with Zach later in the summer. He made a decision to reopen his recruitment process, and we got involved then. He’s a switch-hitting middle infielder, which adds an element to it as we attempt to add more left-handed hitters. He has an overall game that says he can compete to make an impact early in his time on campus.”
Mason Wray, C, 6-0, 185, R/R, Melbourne, Australia (Christian Brothers/Cochise CC)
Prior to NSU: Played for the Kansas Cannons of the Jayhawk League in the summer of 2023 … spent the 2023 season at Colorado-Mesa.
High School: Played for the Newport Baseball Club, coached by David Asp … was the Division II Summer League runner-up.
Bertrand on Wray: “Mason is a junior college catcher from Australia who comes to us by way of Cochise Community College. We really enjoyed getting to know him. He’s a very high-character individual, somebody we’re really looking forward to making an impact not only in baseball, but also as a leader in our clubhouse and locker room. He’s someone we think has the potential to compete for a job right away because he has a well-rounded game defensively and with a bat in his hand.”
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