The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Missouri Southern Sports

August 13, 2013

MSSU baseball signs 15

Three-fourths of Missouri Southern’s infield — all but third baseman Tee Helsel — were seniors last season.

Four transfers — Logan Moon from Central Arkansas, Brandon Weller from Lincoln Land (Ill.) Community College, Jared Lupo from Pratt (Kan.) and Axel Johnson from TCU — are expected to help fill those vacancies.

They are part of a 15-man recruiting class announced Tuesday by Lions baseball coach Bryce Darnell.

Moon, who will be a senior next spring, made 53 starts and played in 95 games during the past three seasons at Central Arkansas. Moon, who prepped at Blue Springs South, batted .283 at Central Arkansas.

Weller, a junior, batted .333 last season at Lincoln Land and stole 17 bases in 22 attempts.

Lupo, also a junior, hit .383 at Pratt and stole 28 bases while being caught only once.

“All three of them are highly athletic,” Darnell said. “They can run and steal bases. Logan Moon also has some good pope and is going to hit some doubles and home runs for us. They will all be really good players for us.”

Johnson, who belted 11 home runs and batted .411 as a senior at Tulsa Kelley, played in 26 games and batted .125 for the Horned Frogs.

“Axel (a left-handed hitter) will see time in a corner outfield position and maybe some time at first base,” Darnell said. “He is more of power guy, a guy you need in your lineup who can strike some fear in the opponents.”

The class includes four players from area high schools — infielder Brett Graham from Joplin (.425 average, five home runs, 30 RBI), middle infielder Austin White from Webb City (first team all-conference), pitcher Jordan Musser from Carthage (7-1, 2.07 ERA, 57 strikeouts, 16 walks) and catcher Dylan Weaver from Riverton (.464, 12 doubles, 17 RBI).

Right-hander Derek Mann, originally from Webb City, comes to MSSU from North Central College in Trenton where he was 4-6 with a 4.68 ERA last season.

Evin Natick, junior outfielder, batted .295 with 40 RBI and 26 stolen bases last year at Heartland CC, which went 50-11 and placed fourth in the NJCAA Division II World Series.

The Lions also signed pitcher Ryan Spry from Longview CC, infielder David Johnson from Maple Woods CC, catcher Kyle Pruitt from Southwestern Iowa CC, outfielder Beau Phillips from Wright State and first baseman Dusty Harper from Texas Wesleyan.

Three pitchers expected to fill major roles next season signed with the Lions during the early signing period last fall — right-handers Skylar Hill from Barton County CC, Matt Harvey from Seckman High School and Nathan Strobel from Republic.

“We also get Mitchell Osburn back from a redshirt year,” Darnell said. “He would have started every game at catcher last year before suffering a wrist injury. He’s like getting a new player.”

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