MOUNT PLEASANT – Five players signed National Letters of Intent to play baseball at Central Michigan starting in 2011, head coach Steve Jaksa announced on Wednesday.
Randon Henika (Bay City, Mich./Jackson CC), Jordan Foley (The Colony, Texas/The Colony HS), Neal Jacobs (Avon, Ohio/Saint Ignatius HS), Matt Trowbridge (Mokena, Ill./Providence Catholic HS) and Joey Houlihan (New Lenox, Ill./Providence Catholic HS) became the newest Chippewas and will open up the 2011 season in the Maroon and Gold.
“As players graduate you have to fill those voids and this is a group that can do that," Jaksa said. "We were able to bring in a pair of outfielders who can both hit for power and run, an arm from each side on the mound and a middle infielder who can do some things. It's an exciting group to build off of as the year continues."
Below are bios on the five student-athletes.
Bay City, Mich./Jackson CC
2010 (at Jackson CC): Named a NJCAA All-American … earned MCCAA all-region honors and first-team all-conference accolades … smashed a conference-leading 13 home runs and went 22-for-24 in stolen base attempts … drove in the fourth-most runs in the conference at 58 … played for Rick Smith.
2009 (at Kansas State): Redshirted.
High School: Drafted as a senior by the Cleveland Indians in the 47th round of the 2008 amateur entry draft … played at Essexville Garber HS ... earned first-team all-conference and first-team all-state honors as a junior and senior … named to the 2008 Dream Team … hit .341 with five home runs and 18 stolen bases as a senior … hit .383 with five home runs and 30 RBI to go with 34 steals as a junior … first-team all-state honoree as a junior … played for Bill Harris … also a first-team all-conference honoree as a quarterback … played club ball for the Saginaw Means under Wendell Nehmer.
Personal: Born Randon Robert Henika on August 2, 1990 in Bay City, Mich. … son of Randy and Suzanne Henika … uncle, Ron, played for the Cincinnati Reds.
Jaksa on Henika: "He's a great athlete. He can run, hit for power and can cover some ground in the outfield as a converted shortstop. We love to bring mid-Michigan kids back to the area, and we're excited about what he brings to our program."
The Colony, Texas/The Colony HS
High School: Earned all-district honors as a junior … struck out 70 batters in 68 innings with a 0.84 ERA as a junior … played for Martin Dean … played club ball for the Dallas Yankees under Thom Bloodworth.
Personal: Born Jordan Bennet Foley on July 12, 1993 … son of Jerry and Michele Foley.
Jaksa on Foley: "He has a powerful arm and a body that will be able to generate power for him as he develops. He could be really exciting. He has a good fastball and a nice slider, he's had some good coaching and he'll be ready when he gets on campus."
Avon, Ohio/Saint Ignatius HS
High School: Earned second-team all-conference honors as a junior … hit .407 as a junior with seven home runs, 27 RBI ... team USA finalist for the Ohio Valley region ... played for Brad Ganor … played club ball for the Premier Baseball Academy under Rob Ferns.
Personal: Born Neal Charles Jacobs on May 13, 1993 in Cleveland, Ohio … son of Marianne and Neal F. Jacobs … father, Neal, played rugby for Kent State from 1974-78.
Jaksa on Jacobs: "We saw him over the summer, and he's showed some good power and speed from the corner outfield spot. It's a good fit for him, and a good fit for us. He, like the rest of this group, is also strong academically."
Mokena, Ill./Providence Catholic HS
High School: Earned Chicago Catholic League all-conference honors as a junior … also earned all-area honors from the Daily Southtown and Joliet Herald … finished the year 6-1 with a 2.90 ERA … fanned 57 in 52 innings of work … tossed two complete games … went 5-1 as a sophomore with a 2.67 ERA … fanned 76 in 57.2 innings … tossed five complete games, including two shutouts … also hit .438 with seven doubles and one home run … played for Mark Smith … played for the Illinois Sparks.
Personal: Born Matthew Steven Trowbridge on March 24, 1993 in Oak Lawn, Ill. … son of Scott and Doreen Trowbridge … brother, Phil, pitches for Saint Joseph’s College in Rensselaer, Ind.
Jaksa on Trowbridge: "He's still getting better but he already knows how to pitch. Coach Opalewski will really help him, but he's a good pitcher who will only get better. He knows how to win and his stuff and velocity will continue to improve. He has all the intangibles and has pitched in, and won, big games already in his career."
New Lenox, Ill./Providence Catholic HS
High School: Three-year starter at shortstop for the varsity squad … hit .316 with four home runs his junior season to earn Catholic Blue League all-conference honors ... Perfect Game Honorable Mention All-American ... played for Mark Smith … played club ball for the Illinois Sparks … has also spent two seasons as the starting quarterback for the varsity squad.
Personal: Born Joseph Michael Houlihan on January 19, 1993 in Oak Lawn, Ill. … nickname is Houly … son of Ester and Mark Houlihan … great uncle, Louis Aloma, pitched for the Chicago White Sox (1950-53) ... brother, Pete, plays football for Eastern Illinois University.
Jaksa on Houlihan: "An athletic defender who fits the mold of what we want in a middle infielder in terms of flexibility and he's a good all-around talent. He can do a little bit of everything and those types of players can be tough to find. He has a brightness about him and he'll fit right in with our team."