MASON CITY - The NIACC baseball team has signed nine student-athletes to national letters of intent for the 2018 season.
The nine players in the 2017 recruiting class consist of players from Iowa, Minnesota, Michigan and Australia.
Signing with the Trojans are Ben Fitzgerald (Newman Catholic), Hunter Dingman (Mason City), Evan Reifert (Wilton), Kyle Pike (Queensland, Australia), Patrick Pridgen (Eastview HS, Minn), Brandon Flock (Springfield, Minn.), Gabe Denton (Clare, Mich.), Chase Rath (Highland-Riverside), and Kam Arons (Bettendorf).
Ben Fitzgerald (Infielder, Newman Catholic) 6-0, 170 pounds, bats left, throws right
Fitzgerald helped lead Class 1A powerhouse Newman Catholic Knights to another state tournament appearance in 2016. The left-handed hitting Fitzgerald hit .425 with 7 doubles, 3 home runs and 24 RBI's. He earned 2nd-team Top of Iowa all-conference honors. He is the 29th ranked player according to the Prep Baseball Report rankings for the 2017 class.
Hergert's comments: "We have had the opportunity to watch Ben over the last couple of seasons. He really stood out at our hitters training camp in August. He has really good bat speed from the left side and has a chance to make a huge jump as he continues to become more physical."
Hunter Dingman (Infielder, Mason City) 6-5, 215, bats right, throws right
Dingman helped lead the Mohawks to a successful 2016 season with a .380 average, 2 home runs and 16 doubles. He earned 1st Team All-CIML utility honors as a junior. He is the 62nd rated player in the state of Iowa according to the Prep Baseball Rankings.
Hergert's comments: "Hunter's power at the plate came on this summer. As he continues to grow into his size, more bat speed will come and that only means more long balls for him. That fits our offensive mold."
Evan Reifert (Right-handed pitcher, Wilton) 6-3, 190
The hard-throwing righty posted up big numbers on the mound this season for the Wilton Beavers. Reifert was 9-0 with a 1.29 earned run average with 92 strikeouts in 49 innings. He is the No. 1 rated right-handed pitcher in Iowa and the No. 11 rated player overall in the Prep Baseball Report prospect rankings.
Hergert's comments: "Evan was our No. 1 pitching target. He has big velocity at 88-90 mph and possesses a wipeout breaking ball. He made great strides in his growth from his sophomore to junior season and we look for him to continue to develop his arsenal. Evan has a chance to big a big time arm in the future."
Kyle Pike (Infielder, Queensland, Australia) 6-2, 195, bats right, throws right
Pike spent the summer traveling with the Perth Heat Colts.
Hergert's comments: "Kyle is a physical kid with some really nice bat speed. His work ethic is off the charts and he will continue the trend of successful players that have come over from Australia."
Patrick Pridgen (Right-handed pitcher, Eastview, Minn.) 6-3, 215
Prigden had a fantastic summer and fall with the Minnesota Mash baseball program. The hard-throwing righty is the 58th rated player in the state of Minnesota by the Prep Baseball Report rankings.
Hergert's comments: "We saw Patrick pumping 87 mph at a showcase in June and while that had us intrigued, his ability to pound the strike zone with two pitches made us know he was a guy for us. He soaked up the presentation given to him showing him how we would develop him the next two years and coming from the Minnesota Mash organization, it will be a very smooth transition for him. "
Branden Flock (Right-handed pitcher/outfielder, Springfield, Minn.) 6-1, 185, bats left, throws right
Flock is rated No. 30 in the Prep Baseball Report rankings for the state of Minnesota. The hard-throwing right hander helped lead Springfield High School to the 2016 Class AA Minnesota State Baseball tournament.
Hergert's comments: "I love the potential in Branden. I've seen him on several occasions in the upper 80's and touching 90. But, he still has a ton of room for growth, which is very scary. He is an athletic kid that swings it very well from the left side. Branden will fit in well with the baseball culture of development here."
Gabe Denton (Catcher, Clare, Mich.) 6-1 190 bats, right, throws right
Denton is the No. 77 rated player according the Prep Baseball Report rakings for the state of Michigan. He received 1st team all-state honors in 2016 hitting .553, 22 doubles, 6 home runs and 50 RBI's in 35 games.
Hergert's comments: "Gabe had the opportunity to play for our assistant coach Will Arnold during the previous summer months. He is very physical with the baseball posting an OPS of 1.626 last season and possesses a very strong defensive skill set behind the plate."
Chase Rath (Right-handed pitcher, Highland-Riverside) 6-3, 185
In 2016, Rath posted a record on 8-2 record with a 1.05 ERA and 116 strikeouts in 77 innings of work. The 2nd-team All-State hurler helped lead Highland-Riverside to the Class 1A State Tournament.
Hergert's comments: "Chase's size and strength immediately stand out watching him over the last year. We have seen him up to 87 mph on the mound and is a perfect fit to continue to develop the way our pitchers train."
Kam Arons (Infielder, Bettendorf) 6-3 250, bats right, throws right
A physical bat, Arons hit .375 with 5 doubles and 7 RBI's in limited time for Bettendorf in 2016.
Hergert's comments: "One of the things we wanted with this class was physical, powerful bats. We are getting every bit of that with Kam. He moves really well for his size and his bat speed is off the charts. He will flourish in how Coach (Shawn) Schlechter trains our hitters."