Development will be crucial for Kentucky State University Head Coach Rob Henry as the Thorobreds look to build on an historic 2019 season. The Thorobreds finished 27-16 (14-7 SIAC) for their first winning season since 1988 and best record in 40 years. Starters Joe Crisp (pitcher), Russ Sims (shortstop), Jordan Ransom (CF/RHP), Bryan Wilson (catcher), Jay Poullard (right field), Cameron Starks (left field) and Artie Santomo (3rd base) all graduated, leaving some big shoes behind to fill.
According to Coach Henry, “It will be difficult to replace the production and leadership that we lost to graduation, but those seniors left the program in a much better place and built a foundation for us to have continued success. We have an outstanding recruiting class of 17 players coming in to go along with many returners who gained invaluable experience last year.”
Kentucky State’s magical run during the 2019 season ended with a loss in the conference tournament. Nonetheless, they had an incredible season. The Thorobred made their case. It could be easy for KSU to sit atop the SIAC when the 2020 season starts in February. They’ve thrived as an underdog, with their offense coming alive against some good pitching staffs last season. If that offensive surge carries over into next season, they have a shot.
Still, head coach Henry showed it can play with the best team in the country thanks to strong pitching. Under Henry, their bats and pitching came around at just the right time last season now he is building a great program they’ve been waiting to have for years. This could be the extra bit of motivation Kentucky State needs.
Henry brought in eight new pitchers to round out this year’s pitching staff. “We have some guys coming in who will immediately contribute to our success on the mound. Junior college transfer Dashawn Hureskin (Lake Michigan CC) will be one of the pitchers expected to compete for innings right away, and freshmen Noah Allen, Roman Blue, Kaleb Farkas, Garrett Jeffries, Lucas Schank and Damion Strong; along with transfer Johnathan Morris (Georgetown College) give us the deepest pitching staff we’ve had in a long time. We’ve got a lot of quality arms coming in to build around returners Brady Bibbs (8-1, 4.50 ERA), Solomon Reed (3-2), Josh Graves (1-0) Dom Lawson (4-2 in 2018), De’Nayus Johnson (1-3) and Brandon Love.”
Offensively, the Thorobreds averaged nearly 7.5 runs per game. They lose about two-thirds of their starting lineup and production from last year. But fortunately the team has some big pieces returning and some new players coming in to shoulder the load. Dominick Lawson, Chance Egnor, Kevin Givhan, Boo Thompson, Josh Graves and Jace Wilson filled big roles in Kentucky State lineup at times last spring and KSU will build around them with other returners and newcomers.
So far fall workouts have centered around getting new players acclimated to the college game and finding the best combinations on the field. Coach Henry keeps harping on the idea of development being the primary focus because KSU have a lot of guys who will be filling different roles this season, whether they are returners or newcomers. Henry stated “I’m looking forward to this year because a lot of people on the outside think we might take a step back this year, and I’m excited to see how well we meet the challenge of building on what we’ve established here.”
Coming off of their success last year, Kentucky State University baseball coach Rob Henry has announced a signing class of 17 for the upcoming season.
“These incoming players will help offset the loss of some very talented and experienced players who graduated last spring,” said Henry. “We’ll have to immediately rely on some of them to continue building on what we have accomplished here recently.”
2019-20 BASEBALL SIGNEES
Henry profiles his 17 new players…
Noah Allen – 6’3″ 210 RHP Fern Creek HS; Louisville, KY Noah comes to us as a pretty well-developed pitcher from Louisville who has faced some of the best competition in the state. He is a hard-throwing righty who should compete for innings on the mound early and develop into a mainstay on our staff moving forward.
Roman Blue – 6”0 230 RHP Louisville Central HS; Louisville, KY Roman is another of our recruits from the Louisville area to join us this year. He is working hard at making the transition to college baseball and will provide depth for our pitching staff as he develops his potential.
Robbie Brown – 5’9″ 145 IF Western Hills HS; Frankfort, KY Robbie joins us as a 2018 graduate from Western Hills HS where he played shortstop for the Wolverines. His ability to play multiple infield spots will make him valuable as a versatile infielder for us in the future.
Antonio Chambers – 6’1″ 180 OF Tates Creek HS; Lexington, KY Antonio comes to us fresh off of winning a state championship with Tates Creek HS this past spring. He was a valuable contributor for the Commodores in their run to the title and we expect his athleticism to help us replace the loss of our entire starting outfield from last spring.
Marcus Chapman – 5’11” 245 IF Rich Central HS; Chicago, IL Marcus transfers to us this fall and is expected to provide some power to our lineup from the right side of the plate. He will give us depth at 1st base and potentially find time as our designated hitter.
Brandon Ethington – 6’4″ 210 IF Collins HS; Shelbyville, KY Brandon is one of our two signees from Collins HS and is a first baseman who has the potential to be a powerful hitter at this level. He is one of our hardest workers and you can see him improving daily.
Kaleb Farkas – 6’2″ 145 RHP Northview HS; Brazil, IN Kaleb is another of our pitching signees who will be expected to shoulder the load of losing several experienced arms from last year. He throws multiple pitches from three different arm slots and his deception gives him an opportunity to see innings on the mound out of the bullpen as a freshman this year.
John Higdon – 5’9″ 185 C Breckenridge County HS; Irvington, KY John is one of our two incoming freshman from Breckenridge County HS, another participant in the KY high school state baseball tournament last spring. He is an excellent defensive catcher, who swung the bat each time I saw him play. He will be in the mix for innings this spring and help us offset the loss of 4-year starter Bryan Wilson.
Collier Higgs – 6’1″ 185 IF Owensboro HS; Owensboro, KY Collier comes to us as one of two signees from Owensboro HS. He swings a powerful bat from the left side of the plate and will compete for innings as a freshman at a couple of different infield positions.
Dashawn Hureskin – 6’3″ 180 RHP Lake Michigan CC; Benton Harbor, MI Dashawn joins us as a proven pitcher at the junior college level, posting a 7-2 record with a 3.29 ERA, 56 strikeouts in 52 innings pitched with only 41 hits given up. He will compete for a spot in our starting rotation this spring.
Garrett Jeffries – 6’4″ 210 RHP Collins HS; Shelbyville, KY Garrett is our second freshman joining us from Collins HS. He is another big-framed pitcher who threw well for the Titans last spring and is expected to earn innings for us this upcoming spring and be one of the young building blocks of our pitching staff.
Johnathan Morris – 6’3″ 190 RHP Georgetown College; Lexington, KY Johnathan is another strong right-handed pitching recruit for us who is expected to immediately contribute. He is a very hard worker who has come in with a competitive mindset focused on competing for a spot in our pitching rotation.
Kelton Saylor – 5’10” 160 OF Rossville HS; Rossville, IN Kelton comes to us as another outfield recruit brought in to offset the loss of our starting outfield from last spring. His athleticism and ability to hit from both sides of the plate will help him add depth in our outfield.
Lucas Schank – 6’1″ 185 RHP Bullitt Central HS; Shepherdsville, KY Lucas brings a bulldog mentality to pitching that will help him transition to the college game. We expect he will earn some innings this spring and will be a big part of the foundation of our pitching staff in the coming years.
Damion Strong – 6’5″ 150 RHP/IF Tyner Academy; Chattanooga, TN Damion arrives as another recruit from our productive pipeline into Chattanooga. His resiliency on the mound will give him a shot at competing for innings out of the bullpen this spring and he has the potential to provide us depth in the middle infield as well.
Cole Tabor – 6’5″ 190 OF Breckenridge County HS; Hardinsburg, KY Cole is our second signee from Breckenridge County HS. He brings good athletic ability to the outfield, which will give him a chance to impact our lineup this spring.
Brennon Williams – 6’6″ 225 1b Owensboro HS; Owensboro, KY Brennon arrives as our second recruit from Owensboro HS. Brennon swings a strong bat from the left side of the plate and is working hard at making the transition to playing at the college level.