Tulane announces 2020 baseball signing class

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Tulane baseball clubhouse
(Photo: Parker Waters)

NEW ORLEANS – Tulane University baseball coach Travis Jewett announced today the addition of 20 members of the team’s 2020 recruiting class. This year’s class marks the fifth under Jewett.

Joining the Green Wave for the 2021 season will be: Aaron Ball, Matthew Bihm, Walker Burchfield, Andres Castro, Zach DeVito, Chase Engelhard, Jared Hart, Tyler Hoffman, Brandon Howell, Keaton Knueppel, Jacob LaPrairie, Bennett Lee, Blake Mahmood, Jake McDonald, Kennedy Norton, Camryn Szynski, Lane Thomas, Turner Thompson, Brian Valigosky and Charlie Yanoshik.

“I first want to thank Jay Uhlman and Daniel Latham for their outstanding effort in putting this class together,” Jewett said. “They worked relentlessly to find not only good players, but good people. We are excited to welcome this group of players. We feel like we have recruited a nice mix of pitchers/position players, as well as high school and junior college/four-year transfers. With the return of the majority of our team from the 2020 season, we believe that our program has a nice blend of new and old that will help us continue on our upward trajectory. We have a lot of positive momentum right now and I look forward to watching this team take on its own identity.”

The Green Wave which opened the 2020 campaign with a 15-2 mark will begin fall workouts in the coming weeks.

2021 Tulane Baseball Newcomers
Aaron Ball
Commerce, Mich./Kankakee
Prior to Tulane: Ball joins the program following a two-year stint at Kankakee CC…Fanned 60 batters in 52.0 innings of work across 11 starts as a freshman…Sophomore season did not begin due to Covid-19…Had impressive prep career at Lakeland High School in Commerce, Michigan…Earned a pair of varsity letters…As a senior he helped guide his team a 33-9 record and an appearance in the Sweet 16 of the Michigan State Playoffs…Earned All-State Honorable Mention, All-Region First Team and All-District First Team recognition…Posted the school record for wins in a season…Struck out 76 batters in his senior season…Lists his favorite high school memory as winning the District Championship as a senior…Also boasts an impressive academic record, as he was named to the All-District Academic Team…Lists Trevor Bauer as his favorite athlete.

Matthew Bihm
Clinton, La./Central Private
Prior to Tulane: Bihm comes to Uptown from Clinton, Louisiana, where he competed at Central Private High School…Earned a total of five varsity letters where he helped guide his team to the state playoffs in three seasons…Was four-time All-District honoree, earning First Team honors in three straight years (2018-2020)…Posted a career batting average of .352…Also competed in track and field where he ran the 400 and the mile…Boasted an impressive academic record, as he graduated with honors, was a member of National Honor Society and earned the Outstanding Scholastic Achievement Award…Lists Drew Brees as his favorite athlete…Plans on majoring in exercise science.

Walker Burchfield
Clinton, Miss./Hinds CC
Prior to Tulane: Burchfield arrives in Uptown following two seasons at Hinds Community College where he helped the Eagles to a 26-20 mark as a freshman and a 12-2 record during his sophomore campaign…Made an immediate impact on the team, as he batted .370, drilled four home runs and drove in 40 RBI en route to earning Second Team All-State honors…Finished his career at Clinton High School in Raymond, Mississippi where he was a career .350 hitter…He also hit 10 home runs and drove in 47 RBI…Earned a total of eight varsity letters…Also started in football, as he helped guide Clinton to the 2017 State Championship…Plans to major in Business Management.

Andres Castro
Elizabeth, N.J/St. Bendict’s Prep
Prior to Tulane: Castro comes to New Orleans from Elizabeth, New Jersey, where he played three seasons of baseball as a shortstop at Hudson Catholic before transferring to St. Benedicts Prep as a senior…Named a Perfect Game Preseason All-American in 2020, also named to the NJ.com All-Prep Team in 2019, The Hudson Reporter All-Area Baseball Team in 2018 and to the Perfect Game top 500 list…Helped his team to a 13-8 record in 2018, making a state semi-finals appearance…Was named an All-District player, batting .377 while recording six doubles, two triples and one home run…Plans to major in exercise science.

Zach DeVito
Lithia, Fla./Newsome
Prior to Tulane: Arrives in New Orleans following an impressive prep career on the mound at Newsome High School in in Lithia, Florida…Was named to the District 15 All-Star team in 2020 as a senior after he posted a 3-0 record with a 0.62 earned run average to go along with 32 strikeouts in over 22 innings over work…Was named to the 2019 All-813 Preps First Team after he posted a 6-1 record with a 1.09 ERA to go along with 53 strikeouts…Earned Hillsborough County Western Conference Second Team honors thanks to a 4-0 mark and an incredible 0.19 ERA…Was named the team’s Pitcher of the Year as a freshman…Helped guide Newsome to the school’s first District Championship in 2019, as he posted a 13-1 record with a 0.70 earned run average…Lists his favorite high school memory as pitching a complete game shutout to help Newsome win its first district title…Also posted a strong academic record as he graduated with honors.

Chase Engelhard
Atlanta, Ga./Riverwood
Prior to Tulane: Comes to Tulane after earning four letters on the varsity baseball team at Riverwood High School…He also earned two varsity letters in football…Was named to the 2019 All-Region baseball team…Played summer/travel ball for the East Cobb Yankees, and for 643 DP Athletics…Selected as a Perfect Game Preseason All-American from 2017-20…Earned All-Tournament team honors from Perfect Game a total of 12 times throughout his showcase career…Was tabbed as a Perfect Game Junior National Top Prospect in 2018…Also earned All-Region honors in football following his freshman season…Became the first freshman football player to start opening day since 1990…Off the playing field, Engelhard was a honors student involved with men’s choir, Beta Club, and Jewish Student Union…He volunteered for many years with Christopher League baseball for differently abled players and Jocks for Socks philanthropy.

Jared Hart
Marietta, Ga./East Georgia College
Prior to Tulane: Hart joins the Green Wave from Swainsboro, Georgia, where he spent two years as an outfielder on East Georgia State College’s baseball team…Went 34-18 in 2020…Named an All-Conference and NJCAA All-American in 2019, going 5-for-5 against Spartanburg Methodist College and South Georgia State College…Batted .348 in 2019, totaling seven home runs, 19 stolen bases and 58 RBIs…Previously, was a four-year letterwinner at Lassiter High School, where he helped his team to three playoff appearances and was named an All-State honoree in 2017…Intends to major in marketing…Brother, Josh Hart, was a supplemental first-round pick by the Baltimore Orioles and also played in the Miami Marlins organization.

Tyler Hoffman
Mobile, Ala./Mississippi Gulf Coast
Prior to Tulane: Arrives in Uptown after he spent the past two seasons at Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College…Logged 53.0 innings across 10 starts as a freshman while totaling 40 strikeouts…Fanned 19 batters in just 11.2 innings during a Covid-19-shortened sophomore campaign…During his high school career at Mobile Christian, he helped guide his team to three state championships…Was named 3A All-State as a senior after he posted a 9-1 record…As a sophomore in the third round of the state playoffs, he pitched a complete game shutout that advanced the squad to the championship…Threw an 80-pitch complete game, giving up only two hits and struck out eight during the state championship series…Made 13 playoff appearances…His grandfather Robert Findley played football at USC.

Brandon Howell
Southlake, Texas/Southlake Carroll
Prior to Tulane: Howell comes to Tulane following an impressive athletic career at Southlake Carroll High School in Southlake, Texas, earning a total of five varsity letters…Earned All-District honors in both football and baseball…Team posted a career mark of 32-3 during his varsity baseball career…Helped guide Southlake to the state championship title in 2019…Posted a career average of .424 with four home runs and 36 RBI…Logged 82 total tackles as the starting safety on the football team as a senior…Also posted an impressive academic record, as he served as a member of the National Honor Society…His cousin Steve Howell played football at Baylor University and played in the National Football League with the Miami Dolphins.

Keaton Knueppel
Verona, Wisc./Gonzaga
Prior to Tulane: Comes to Tulane after he spent the past four seasons at Gonzaga…He did not play in 2019 and saw limited action in 2020, 2018 and 2017…Posted a decorated career at Verona Area High School in Verona, Wisconsin, as he earned First Team All-Conference in his final two years and Second Team All-State as a senior…Fanned 106 batters in 61.2 innings pitched with a 1.02 ERA…Tossed seven complete games and struck out 16 in a seven-inning contest…Played club ball for GRB Rays out of Madison, Wisconsin…Earned spots on the Kernels Perfect Game and PBR Labor Day Challenge All-Tournament teams…In the classroom, he earned All-State Academic, National Scholar Student-Athlete and All-District Academic awards with a grade point average of 3.95.

Jacob LaPrairie
Lafayette, La./St. Thomas More
Prior to Tulane: A Louisiana-native, LaPrairie joins Tulane from Lafayette, where he was a three-year letterwinner at St. Thomas More…As an outfielder, he helped his team to semifinals appearances in his sophomore and junior seasons…As a junior, he helped lead the Cougars to a 31-9 record and an appearances in the Division II semifinals…He led the team in RBI (39) and walks (30) and tied for the team lead in doubles (12) and home runs (three)…Plans to major in finance…Father, Joseph LaPrairie, played football at Tulane.

Bennett Lee
Tampa, Fla./Tampa Jesuit
Prior to Tulane: Lee comes to New Orleans from Tampa, Florida, where he was a four-year letterwinner on Tampa Jesuit High School’s baseball team…Was part of a Tigers team that ranked No. 1 in the nation in 2020 (9-0) and that won the state championship in 2019 (27-5)…Also helped his team become a state runner-up in 2017 (25-7) and a regional semifinalist in 2018 (19-10)…Named to the All-District and All-County teams in 2018 and 2019, also named to the All-State team in 2019…Named a Collegiate Baseball Second Team All-American as a senior…Batted .442 in 2019, adding three home runs and two doubles and seven triples to lead the county…Major currently is undecided…Father, Ben Lee, played baseball at UNC Chapel Hill and older brother, Everett Lee, currently plays baseball at Wesleyan University.

Blake Mahmood
Eden Prairie, Minn./Benilde-St. Margaret’s
Prior to Tulane: Mahmood joins the Olive and Blue roster from Eden Prairie, Minnesota, where he was a three-year letterwinner on Benilde-St. Margaret’s baseball team…Named to the Perfect Game Preseason All-Region First Team in 2020…Also named a Preseason Underclass All-American High Honorable Mention in 2019 and Honorable Mention in 2018…The right-handed pitcher intends to major in finance at Tulane…Father, Alec Mahmood, played baseball at Creighton University.

Jake McDonald
Maud, Texas/Texas Tech
Prior to Tulane: McDonald joins the Green Wave from Texas Tech, where he spent two years as a pitcher…Helped the Red Raiders win two Big 12 Championships and appear in the 2018 NCAA College World Series…Pitched 20.1 innings as a freshman, pitching in the NCAA Regionals in his first year on the squad before suffering a shoulder injury…Previously, was a four-year letterwinner on Maud High School’s baseball team in Texarkana, Texas…Holds the all-time Maud High School strikeout record with 429 in his career, also totaling eight no-hitters…A three-time All-State right-handed pitcher, three time District MVP and 2016 Texarkana Gazette Pitcher of the Year, McDonald struck out 20 batters in one game in 2015 and also hit eight home runs as a senior in 2016…Also a four-year letterwinner in football and track & field and a three-year letterwinner in basketball…Intends to pursue a master’s of professional studies in sports studies at Tulane…Father, Rodger McDonald, played college basketball at Sul Ross State University.

Kennedy Norton
Ball Ground, Ga./Kentucky
Prior to Tulane: Enters the 2021 season after spending the past two years at the University of Kentucky, but never competed…Originally signed with the Wildcats after being recognized on a number of national showcase events…Was selected to the Perfect Game Preseason All-America and All-Region teams in 2016 and 2017…Earned a top 500 national prospect ranking from Perfect Game…Lists his state playoff appearance against Benedictine where he struck out six and picked up the win as the highlight of his high school career…Lists himself as a baseball statistics savant and claims to know the score of almost every game he has played in since the age of nine…Plans on being a Major League Baseball player or a general manager for a professional team after college.

Camryn Szynski
Granger, Ind./Penn
Prior to Tulane: Arrives in New Orleans following a successful prep athletics career at Penn High School…Earned a total of five varsity letters…Helped guide the team to a runner-up finish at the state playoffs as a freshman…Also played a key role in the team’s 24-win season as a junior…Received First Team All-Conference honors as a senior…Also successful in the classroom, as he was named to the Honor Roll throughout his high school career…Is also able to solve a Rubik’s cube…His older brother Skylar plays professional baseball in the Oakland Athletics farm system…His younger brother Brent played baseball at Indiana State and his sister Robin played volleyball at Indiana State…Intends to major in sport management at Tulane.

Lane Thomas
Walker, La./Jones CC
Prior to Tulane: A Walker, Louisiana-native, Thomas comes to New Orleans after spending two years at Jones County Junior College…Posted a 9-2 record with a 3.01 ERA and a team-high 73 strikeouts in 13 starts as a freshman…Pitched seven innings to help Jones County to an 11-4 win over LSU Eunice…Previously, was a three-year letterwinner at Walker High School, playing pitcher, first base and designated hitter…Helped his team to three straight playoff appearances (2016, 2017, 2018)…Named to the First Team All-Parish in 2016, 2017 and 2018, to the First Team All-District in 2017 and 2018 and to the Second Team All-District in 2016…Was named the Livingston Parish Pitcher of the Year in 2018…Pitched a complete game in the Wildcats first-round playoff game in 2017 to win against the No. 6 seed, also drove in both of the runs to lead Walker to its first playoff win in eight years…Intends to major in sport management at Tulane.

Turner Thompson
Tampa, Fla./Tampa Jesuit
Prior to Tulane: Thompson joins the Green Wave roster from Tampa, Florida, where he spent four years on Tampa Jesuit High School’s baseball team…As a pitcher, Thompson was named to the Tampa Bay All-District Team as a junior, totaling 35 strikeouts in 20 innings…Also named the 813Preps Specialist Pitcher of the Year…As a sophomore, logged 32 strikeouts in 19 innings…Allowed zero extra base hits in his entire career…Helped his team to a state championship title in 2019, closing both the semifinal and state championship games…Competed on the the No. 1-ranked high school team in the nation in 2020 (9-0)…Intends to major in business at Tulane…Father, Mark Thompson, played baseball at Nicholls State and in the independent baseball league and his mother, Mandy Thompson, ran cross country at Southern Miss.

Brian Valigosky
New Orleans, La./Jesuit
Prior to Tulane: A New Orleans, Louisiana, native, Valigosky joins the Olive and Blue roster after spending three years on Jesuit High School’s baseball team…Helped the Blue Jays to playoff appearances in all three years, winning districts as a junior while helping the team go 15-2 as a senior before the season was cut short due to the COVID-19 pandemic…Named to the State All-Star team as a senior and the Prep Baseball Report’s All-State Futures Team…As a sophomore, the left-handed pitcher recorded a 13-strikeout game before suffering an injury that prevented him from pitching as a junior…Was an American Legion Baseball state runner-up and American Legion Baseball district champion during all four years…Intends to major in finance at Tulane…Great uncle, Donald Hecker, played baseball at Tulane and grandfather, David Hecker, played baseball at LSU before being drafted by the Atlanta Braves.

Charlie Yanoshik
Lafayette Hill, Pa./La Salle College
Prior to Tulane: Ranked as the No. 1 shortstop by PBR in the state of Pennsylvania for the past three years (2018-20)…Helped guide La Salle College High School to PCL and District 12 Championships…Earned two varsity letters while in high school…Received Under Armour preseason All-America honors three times…Was selected as a preseason All-American twice by Perfect Game…Hit a walk-off home run in the bottom of the 13th inning of the state semifinals to his team to the state championship which they would later win…His uncle Ted played football at Sacramento State while his uncle Chris, played football at Pacific University…Lists his favorite athlete as Francisco Lindor…Has played baseball in 14 different states.

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