Nov. 14, 2011
ATHENS---Zach Bowers, Kyle Carter, Sean McLaughlin, Daniel Nichols, J.T. Phillips, Cody Sheedy and Duane Underwood are the first seven members of Georgia’s latest baseball recruiting class after each signed a national letter-of-intent to attend UGA, Bulldog coach David Perno announced Monday.
Here is a brief look at the newest Bulldogs who will be joining the program for the 2013 season:
A 6-0, 190-pound catcher from Acworth, Ga., Zack is the son of Ingrid and Carl Bowers. A right-handed hitting catcher, he smashed eight home runs for the Harrison Hoyas and coach Mark Elkins in 2011. An Honor Roll student, he was a member of the state championship baseball team as a sophomore including picking up four wins on the mound.
“I have dreamed about playing baseball at Georgia since I was a kid, and now I have the opportunity to do that,” said Bowers.
“Zack is the best high school catcher in the state with a huge upside,” said Perno. “He is capable of making an impact as a freshman, and we’re excited he is joining the program.”
A 6-0, 195-pound pitcher/outfielder from Columbus, Ga., Kyle is the son of Cindy and Richard Carter. A left-handed pitcher/hitter, Kyle attends Columbus High School where he plays for coach Bobby Howard. As a junior, he led the Blue Devils to their second straight state title with 22 home runs and 46 RBI while batting .471 in 36 games. He set the single season and all-time home run record in school history. Also, he went 9-4 on the mound with a team-best 2.33 ERA and 75 strikeouts in 97 innings. As a freshman, he batted .418-12-49 and followed that up by hitting .408-11-42 as a sophomore plus went 10-2 with a 2.14 ERA and 96 strikeouts on the mound. He has been named the AAA Player of the Year and two-time All Bi-City Baseball Player of the Year in his prep career. He has been a key member of the East Cobb Braves summer league team and was the MVP of the 17U Perfect Game World Wood Bat Association (WWBA) Championships and named to the WWBA All-World Tournament Team in helping the Braves win numerous titles. He was named the 2011 East Cobb Rawlings Player of the Year. Also as a youngster, he led Columbus to the 2006 Little League World Series title.
“I’ve always liked UGA, and after visiting the campus and talking to the coaches, some of the players and students, I knew my decision was made,” said Carter.
“Kyle is a fierce competitor who can do anything on a baseball field,” said Perno. “He’s one of the best baseball players we’ve signed from his ability to be an everyday position player and also the potential to be an ace on the mound.”
A 5-11, 184-pound outfielder/pitcher from Johns Creek, Ga., Sean is the son of Gail and Stephen McLaughlin. He is a left-handed hitter and right-handed pitcher at Northview High School where he plays for coach Josh Bartlett. A three-year starter for the Titans, he batted .450 with six home runs and 21 RBI as a junior. He earned All-Region honors in 5A and the team’s offensive award. He has been a vital member of the East Cobb Astros summer league team and was named to the 2011 Perfect Game Underclassmen 2nd Team. He has been selected to play in the Area Code Team and the East Coast Professional Showcase. In 2010, he earned the East Cobb Rawlings Defensive Player of the Year award.
I’m very excited that Coach Perno has given me the opportunity of joining one of the top baseball programs in the country, and I’m looking forward to playing in the SEC and having a successful career as a Bulldog,” said McLaughlin.
“Sean is a fine left-handed hitter who has the potential to be a closer too,” said Perno. “He’s throwing 93-94 and just a fun player to watch with a lot of energy.”
A 6-3, 190-pound left-handed hitting infielder/outfielder from Leesburg, Ga., Daniel is the son of Michele Lloyd and Timothy Nichols. He has earned first team All-Region and All-Area honors for the Lee County Trojans and coach Rob Williams. As a junior, he batted .415 with a four home runs and a team-high 27 RBI in 28 games. He has helped the Trojans win two straight Region 1-AAAA championships. He hit .333 with two home runs and nine RBI when he was added to the varsity team as a sophomore.
“I have always wanted to play college baseball at a high level,” said Nichols. “I love competing and playing good teams.”
“Daniel is a left-handed hitting corner infielder and possibly a backup catcher,” said Perno. “He is a big, strong athlete, and his bat is his best tool right now.”
A 6-2, 195-pound right-handed hitting infielder from Midland, Ga., J.T. is the son of Lynne and John Phillips. He has been a part of back-to-back AAA state championships at Columbus High School and coach Bobby Howard. He helped the Blue Devils go 32-5 in 2010 and 30-9 in 2011.
“I am excited to have the opportunity to play baseball at UGA, and it’s something I’ve dreamed about since I was a kid,” said Phillips.
“J.T. can play around the infield and is a capable shortstop although his body-type fits more of a third baseman,” said Perno. “He’s another big, physical talent and is one of the scariest hitters in the state.”
A 6-2 182-pound right-handed hitting infielder from Cataula, Ga., Cody is the son of Kathryn and Buford Sheedy. As a junior, he batted .434 with five home runs and 30 RBI in 24 games for the Tigers and coach Steve Westmoreland. He has earned the Harris County High School Academic Award for the past two years, the Tiger Award in 2011 and the Harris County Player of the Year in baseball in 2010. Also, he was named to the first team All Bi-City.
“My decision was influenced by the outstanding academic and athletic history at UGA, and the opportunity to join the most competitive conference in collegiate sports,” said Sheedy.
“Cody is a very young senior who just turned 17, and we liked what we saw from him in one of our camps” said Perno. “He’s a good runner and growing in to his body, and we’re looking forward to seeing him develop because his best baseball is ahead of him.”
A 6-3, 210-pound right-handed pitcher/outfielder from Marietta, Ga., Duane is the son of April and Duane Underwood. A 2011 Under Armour All-American, he attends Pope High School where he plays for coach Jeff Rowland. As a junior, he went 6-1 with a 1.57 ERA and 68 strikeouts in 53.1 innings. Also, he batted .361 with five home runs, 20 RBI and 20 stolen bases in helping Pope post an 18-9 record. He earned MVP honors for the Greyhounds as they captured the region title and advanced to the Elite Eight of the state playoffs. Additionally, Underwood earned All-Region honors in Class 5AAAA, the Outstanding Season Award from the Georgia Dugout Club and was named to the Marietta Daily Journal Cobb County All-County Team. He has been a key member of the East Cobb Astros summer league team and was named to the 2011 WWBA World All-Tournament team, a Perfect Game Jackie Robinson Award finalist and Perfect Game Underclassmen 1st Team.
“When I signed to become a Georgia Bulldog, it was one of the best moments of my life,” said Underwood. “The excitement of playing baseball in the SEC as a Bulldog will be awesome.”
“Duane is one of the most versatile baseball players we’ve signed and is a legitimate two-way talent,” said Perno. “He is throwing 97-98 on the mound and swings a good bat too. He is primarily a pitcher and could help in the outfield and provide a power bat.”
The early signing period continues through Wednesday.