RUSTON - Louisiana Tech baseball head coach Wade Simoneaux announced Tuesday the signings of four high school prep stars and one junior college star as middle infielders Hunter Travis and Taylor Love and pitchers Adam DeRouen, Sam Saunders and Richie Navari all signed national letters of intent during the early period.
"We have a strong recruiting class coming in next season," said Simoneaux. "We have five players who can come in and immediately make an impact on our program."
Travis (Jackson, La./Centreville Academy) is a six-year letterman as a shortstop and hit .410 with 11 doubles and 26 RBIs from the lead-off spot his junior season guiding the Tigers to their first state championship in school history. He was named to the Mississippi Association of Independent Schools (MAIS) first team all-District 5-2A, first team Natchez all-Metro, and MAIS all-state. The Louisiana native was the recipient of the Honesty & Integrity Award given by the St. Albans Masonic Lodge in Jackson, La.
Travis said the honesty of the coaching staff at Louisiana Tech set it apart from the other schools that were recruiting him.
"They are straight forward, and tell you what they think," he said.
Centreville Academy head coach Jason Horne said Travis' athletic ability is what makes him a good middle infielder.
"Hunter's footwork and hand-eye are incredible," Horne said.
Love (Shreveport, La./CE Byrd HS) led off and played shortstop for the Yellow Jackets, posting a near .500 on-base percentage. He ended the season with a .351 batting average and led the team with a .425 batting average with runners in scoring position.
\\\\\\\"I am really excited about becoming a part of the LA Tech baseball program," Love said. "I believe the program and the university are great fits for me academically and athletically.\\\\\\\"
Love was named the first team all-District 1-5A shortstop as a sophomore and junior and received all-city honorable mention as a junior. He led Byrd High School to the quarterfinals of the state tournament before losing to Catholic High.
"We have two future middle infielders in Travis and Love who are young and have great athleticism," said Simoneaux. "They are great ball players who do the right things both on the field and in the classroom."
Derouen (Lafayette, La./Lafayette HS) is a two-year letterman as a pitcher for the Mighty Lions. As a junior, Derouen registered a 6-1 record with a 2.54 earned run average guiding the Lions to a 30-5 record. He has led the program to back-to-back state championship game appearances.
Derouen visited Tech's campus many times for summer and Christmas camps with his older brother, Jacob, who is a red-shirt freshman for the Bulldogs. When it came time to sign his national letter of intent, Derouen had his mind made up.
\\\\\\\"I always wanted to play college ball with my brother,\\\\\\\" DeRouen said. \\\\\\\"I've visited while participating in some summer and Christmas camps, and I really like the campus and atmosphere."
Derouen is working on a third pitch that could make him even more difficult to hit in the coming years.
\\\\\\\"When I\\\\\\\'m on the mound, I want there to be no doubt in anyone's mind that we\\\\\\\'re going to win that game,\\\\\\\" he said. \\\\\\\"I throw a fastball and curve and am working on a change. I want to get to where I\\\\\\\'ve got three pitches that I can throw for strikes at any time.\\\\\\\"
Saunders (Lindale, Texas/Lindale HS) went 7-2 for the Eagles, with 64 strikeouts in 50 innings and a 1.71 ERA. At the plate, Saunders hit .330 with three home runs. He was named first team all-District 14-3A pitcher in 2011. He also letters for the Lindale football team.
Sam Saunders wanted to continue playing baseball at a school that has strong baseball and engineering programs.
"I've always wanted to be an engineer," Saunders said. "Tech has a really good engineering program and a really good baseball program. It's a great fit both academically and athletically."
Lindale head coach Scott Nichols knew Saunders wanted to sign with a school that allowed him to continue playing at a high level while working towards an engineering degree.
"He's a very intelligent player with a high upside," Nichols said. "The fact that he is majoring in engineering shows how smart he is too."
"Derouen and Saunders can come in and get a lot of innings as freshman," Simoneaux said. "They are both good, smart, young men who mix their pitches well."
Navari (Pittsburgh, Pa./Scottsdale CC) appeared in five games for the Fighting Artichokes in 2011, striking out three in 9.1 innings pitched.
The 6-foot-4-inch Navari underwent Tommy John Surgery in 2009 after transferring to Scottsdale from Duquesne University.
Navari had connections with Tech before signing his letter of intent as his pitching coach, Marcus Clapp, also played for Louisiana Tech.
"Richie is a big powerful righty that is currently pitching for former Bulldog Marcus Clapp," said Simoneaux. "Richie can come in as a junior and get a lot of innings for us."
6'0, Middle Infielder
Jackson, La. (Centreville Academy)
High School: Ended the 2011 season with a .410 batting average with 11 doubles, 1 home run and 26 RBIs from the leadoff spot junior year... also posted a .510 on base percentage and .553 slugging percentage... MAIS 5-2A all-District First Team, First Team Natchez all-Metro, all-state MAIS)... Six year letterman for varsity baseball... First team all-district in baseball in eighth grade, as a sophomore and as a junior... Member of the 2011 state championship baseball team at Centreville Academy (first in school history)... Four year letterman for football all-District defensive back as a sophomore and junior... Member of the 2008 state championship team in football... Recipient of the honesty & integrity award given by the St. Albans Masonic Lodge in Jackson, LA... Played with future teammate Taylor Love this past summer for the Marucci Elite team in Baton Rouge, La.... Both were starting middle infielders for the team... Also recruited by Louisiana-Monroe, Louisiana-Lafayette and Central Florida...Personal: Full name is Hunter McCabe Travis... Son of Jeff and Dana Travis... Born Feb. 25, 1993
5'11, Middle Infielder
Shreveport, La. (CE Byrd High School)
High School: Recorded a .351 batting average with a .425 batting average with runners in scoring position from the leadoff spot... Ended the 2011 season with 38 runs scored and 21 RBIs... First Team 1-5A all-District shortstop as a sophomore and a junior... Honorable mention all-city as a junior... Led Byrd HS to the quarter-finals of the state tournament before losing to Catholic High... Personal: Full name is Robert Taylor Love... Son of Gary and Lisa Love... Older brother Austin is a senior at LSU-Baton Rouge and sister Hannah is a sophomore at Byrd HS... Born Feb. 1, 1994
Lafayette, LA (Lafayette High School)
High School: Derouen is a two year letterman as a pitcher at Lafayette HS... Went 6-1 with 50 strikeouts and a 2.54 ERA as a junior...Led the Lions to a 30-5 record and back-to-back state championship game appearances... All-district selection as a junior...Went 3-0 as a sophomore, guiding Lafayette to the 5A state championship game... Personal: Full name is Adam James DeRouen... Son of Jamie and Lynn Derouen... Has one brother, Jacob, who is a redshirt freshman on the Bulldogs baseball team... Born March 4, 1994
Lindale, TX (Lindale High School)
High School: Went 7-2 for the Eagles this season with 64 strikeouts in 50 innings, allowing 30 hits with a 1.71 ERA... At the plate, Saunders batted .330 with seven doubles and three homers... Named first team all-District 14-3A pitcher in 2011... Played linebacker, defensive line and running back for the Eagles' football team... Also recruited by Baylor, Wofford, and Mississippi St... Personal: Full name is Samuel R. Saunders... Son of Scott and Kim Saunders...Has one sister, Hannah... Plans on majoring in engineering... Born May 28, 1994
Pittsburgh, PA (Scottsdale CC)
Scottsdale CC: Appeared in five games, striking out three in 9.1 innings in 2011... Medical red-shirt as he underwent Tommy John Surgery in 2010... Transferred from Duquesne University... Pitching coach is former Bulldogs Marcus Clapp, who is tied for third all-time in appearances made by a pitcher in a single season. (28 games in 2001) ... High School: Guided Plum High School to a WPIAL playoff spot his senior season... Personal: Full name is Richard B. Navari... Son of Richard Navari, Jr... Born April 21, 1991