From Columbia, South Carolina to Cortland, New York, the Cortland Crush would like to welcome Murrell Martin, Armando Valetin and David White, Jr. to our 2017 roster. All three players join us from Benedict College, a successful Division II program that finished their 2016 campaign 27-19, ranking them ninth in the country in the small school division of the Black College Nine National Polls. Head Coach Selwyn Young, who will begin his seventh season as the Tigers’ head coach, has accumulated an overall record of 153-103 in his six seasons at the helm for Benedict, including two SIAC Coach-of-the-Year awards.
Sophomore pitcher, Murrell Martin, joins the Crush and is poised to make an immediate impact. The 6’5’’, 215-pound pitcher appeared in 13 games for the Tigers in his freshman season. His overall record of 1-1 included a .171 opponent batting average, which was good enough for second on the team. Since the end of last season, Coach Young has noticed a drastic improvement in his young pitcher.
“Last year as a freshman he was throwing 88 mph and having a hard time finding the plate,” Coach Young said. “He played last summer in Florida and he came back this fall throwing strikes and got clocked at 95 mph. That is something you can’t teach someone to do; he’s athletic and he throws the ball almost effortlessly.”
Coach Young expects Martin to be the closer this season, with the potential of seeing some spots starts. Besides being a pitcher, Martin will see time in the infield and the outfield as his coach praised him for having a “cannon” from right field.
“He’s 19 years old,” Coach Young said. “He’s a hell of an athlete and this is college baseball. I need to try and get the most out of him while he’s here. He’s a natural, gifted player.”
Joining Martin in Cortland this summer is junior switch-hitting shortstop, Armando Valetin. Valetin is coming off a very successful 2016 season for the Tigers. He was named an SIAC All-Conference shortstop and landed a spot on the Palmetto All-State team, a distinct honor given out to South Carolina college and university players. He finished third on the team in batting average at .375 while making an impact on the bases, stealing 27 bases on the season. Valetin spent the majority of last season leading off for the Tigers, until a hamstring injury deteriorated the last two weeks of his season.
“Without Armando leading off, our team changed,” Coach Young said. “He’s a difference maker who understands how to work the count, get on base and play where I need him. He played every position in the outfield and rotated between second and shortstop. On top of that, he’s a great kid who any coach would want in their program.”
David White, Jr. joins the Crush this summer looking to carry over his success from the 2016 season into this year. Last year, White was named to the Black College All-American team and was an SIAC 1st-Team All-Conference and Palmetto All-State selection. White led the team in batting average (.409), hits (61), homeruns (14), RBI’s (49), total bases (117) and slugging percentage (.785). White is a 6’6’’, 220-pound utility player who is already getting looked at by professional scouts.
“David is a beast,” Coach Young said. “He launches balls like Bryce Harper in batting practice and his fly balls are homeruns. I mean, he hits it in the nosebleed section. He’s a threat every time he comes up to the plate to hit the ball out of the park.”
With these three players leading Benedict College in the 2017 season, the Tigers are poised to make a run in the Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference. Benedict opens up their season on February 11 in a doubleheader against Bluefield State College. You can follow the Tigers all season long on their website, benedicttigers.com. We look forward to have Murrell, Armando and David join the Crush this summer and we wish them good luck in their upcoming collegiate season!
Courtesy Steve Payette and Benedict’s Selwyn Young