Corsicana Daily Sun, Corsicana, Texas

Sports

June 5, 2013

NJCAA Baseball: Navarro lands two on All-American team

Corsicana — Looking for the best battery in all of junior college baseball?

That’s easy.

Just drive down 7th Avenue and drop by Navarro College, where the Bulldogs capped off a memorable season on Wednesday when the team’s ace and catcher were both named to the NJCAA Division I All-American team.

Navarro’s pitch-and-catch combo of Lukas Schiraldi and John Clay Reeves was the only battery to earn All-American honors. Schiraldi was named to the All-American  first-team, and Reeves was named to the All-American fourth team.

No one in this part of the country was surprised. After all, Reeves had already been named the Player of the Year in the Region XIV East Zone and Schiraldi was the Pitcher of the Year in the region. Not a bad 1-2 punch. It was good enough to help lead Navarro to the College World Series and land both Schiraldi and Reeves on the All-American team, which was announced Wednesday.

Schirladi, a native of Austin, was perfect in the regular season, going 10-0 with a 1.80 ERA. Reeves had a monster season behind the plate, where he handled a pitching staff with a 2.91 ERA, and standing at it, where he hit .372 with three homers and 39 RBIs.

Since 1992, Navarro has had 16 All-Americans.

Schiraldi’s father, Calvin was a star at the University of Texas in 1983 when he and Roger Clemens led the Longhorns to the NCAA national title. He was a first-round draft pick who had success  in the big leagues. Lukas avoided pitching until he got to high school, but he has been on the rise since — especially at Navarro.

“I saw him in the fall of his freshman year and he’s light years from that point,” said a Major League scout who has seen Schiraldi pitch numerous times at Navarro. “He was intriguing because he’s big and he went from throwing 86-88 mph with not much of a breaking ball to a really improved fastball and his breaking ball is better.”

Schiraldi emerged as the ace of a Navarro staff that ran deep in talent, and on Wednesday he emerged again, recognized as one of the top pitchers in the nation.

Reeves, who is from Monroe, La., was a backup at the University of Arkansas last year. He came to Navarro to make a statement. He did. And it was loud and clear.

He had such a dominant season that he was the unanimous choice to win the region’s MVP award.

“After looking at everybody in the conference, John Clay had the best numbers and everybody picked him,” Navarro coach Whoa Dill said when Reeves was chosen as the region player of the year. “Lukas was a slam dunk. We didn’t even vote. We all just said it was unanimous and just went on and picked the rest of the team.”

You could say the same for Navarro’s battery — simply the best in the nation.

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