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Northwest Bearcats

Press Release

Nov. 18, 2011

Diamond 'Cats ink 12 at early period

MARYVILLE, Mo. – The Northwest Missouri State baseball squad added 11 high school seniors and one junior college transfer head coach Darin Loe announced on Friday at the early signing period. The Bearcats were successful locally adding three players from Missouri, four from Nebraska and two from Iowa along with one each from California, Illinois and Wisconsin.


“This group of young men is one of the deepest and most talented groups we have ever had,” said Head Coach Darin Loe.  “With seven seniors and 21 juniors in the current year, this group will be counted on to form a nucleus for our future.”


Below are the 12 players signed by the Bearcats:

Austin Warren

Austin Warren, North Central Missouri College:  Warren finished his Freshman season at North Central Missouri C.C. leading the Pirates in Innings Pitched, Strikeouts, ERA, and Wins.  The Lone Jack, Missouri native finished 2011 with 54 strikeouts and a 3.67 ERA.  Prior to North Central, Warren was a first team team all-district selection as both a junior and a senior at Lone Jack High School.

Coach Loe comment: “Austin is a 6’5” right-hander that really knows how to pitch.  He will work in the mid to upper 80’s with a great 3 pitch mix.  Austin will not walk you.  We expect him to be an immediate difference maker for us.”

Brian Schmeiedt

Brian Schmiedt, Waukee (IA) HS:  A pitcher and starting outfielder for Waukee, Schmiedt finished his junior year with a 1.52 ERA while averaging 13.3 strikeouts per 9 innings and allowing an opponents’ batting average of .124.  Schmiedt, a participant in the 2011 Evo-Shield National Championship game, is one of just 16 Iowa 2012 graduates graded at 8.5 or higher by Perfect Game.

Coach Loe comment:  “Brian is a late bloomer on the mound.  He has tremendous arm strength with consistent mid to upper 80’s velocity and has a chance to develop into a very quality pitcher for us.”

Colby Bragdon

Colby Bragdon, Urbandale (IA) HS:  Bragdon, a 6’2” 205 lb two-sport athlete, finished his junior year with a 5-2 record and a 3.42 ERA.  He struck out 41 batters in 43 innings and also showed prowess at the plate hitting .302 last year.  He was also a starter for the Urbandale football team that advanced to the second round of the Class 4A football playoffs this fall.

Coach Loe comment: “Colby is a very athletic player that we feel has tremendous upside.  He has a live arm and has an explosive curveball.  We expect Colby to be a big part of our program on the mound who also has a chance to contribute with the bat.”

Derek Meyer

Derek Meyer, Lincoln (NE) Pius X HS: A starting catcher and shortstop at Pius X, Meyer hit .319 and scored 30 runs as a junior.  Meyer spent this fall as teammates with fellow Northwest recruit JJ Benes on the Omaha Strike Zone Elite team.

Coach Loe comment: “Derek is one of the hardest-working players on the field we have seen at the high school level.  He is a very intelligent player that has a strong and accurate arm, good speed and the ability to do all the little things that help us win games.”

James Holler

James Holler, Waynesville (MO) HS: Will enter his senior season at Waynesville after being the team MVP each of the last two years. Was named all-District and Academic all-State as a junior. He also picked up Third Team all-State accolades during the fall as the Tigers quarterback.

Coach Loe Comment: “James is a 6’3” kid that has a lot of room to get stronger and faster.  He has the ability to play several positions defensively and has outstanding athleticism, good speed and a strong arm.  As a hitter, James has the ability to be a difference-maker from the left handed side of the plate.”

JJ Benes

James (JJ) Benes, Papillion La Vista (NE) HS:  Can play multiple positions including pitcher, first base, and outfield. Benes hit .413 with four home runs during his spring season as a junior and followed it up with a legion season in which he finished 5-2 on the mound with a 1.84 ERA and 53 strikeouts.  His teams qualified for both the 2011 high school and legion state tournaments.  Benes was both first team all-conference and honorable mention all-State during the spring of 2011.

Coach Loe Comment:  “JJ is one of the more developed High School pitchers we have seen in recent years.  He not only works with a mid-80’s fastball but is truly a 3 pitch pitcher.  JJ also has some intriguing pop in the bat that gives him a chance to contribute on the offensive side as well.”

Kurt Gitchell

Kurt Gitchell, Willowbrook (IL) HS:  A .402 hitter his junior year, Gitchell also threw out 68% of runners trying to steal.  Another multisport athlete, Gitchell served as his school’s quarterback during his junior season that culminated with winning the Illinois state championship.

Coach Loe comment: “Kurt is a very polished high school player.  He is an outstanding athlete who is well-rounded; giving him a chance to be successful in all phases of the game.”

Mason Raburn

Mason Raburn, Omaha (NE) Creighton Prep:  A varsity letter winner as both a sophomore and a junior, Raburn finished the 2011 season with a 1.50 ERA.  The 6’1” left-handed pitcher will take an 8-0 career record on the mound into his senior season. 

Coach Loe comment: “Mason, like Matt Kanger, comes from a tremendously successful Creighton Prep program.  Mason has had tremendous success at the high school level and has a live arm that gives him a lot of room to grow.”

Matt Kanger

Matt Kanger, Omaha (NE) Creighton Prep:  Kanger hit .395 as the starting first baseman for Omaha Creighton Prep, a 2011 Nebraska state tournament qualifier.  At 6’4”, 200 lbs, Kanger also hit .405 for the well-respected Nebraska Sluggers summer travel team. 

Coach Loe comment: “Matt is one of the premier hitters in the Omaha area.  He has shown he has game-changing type power from the left side of the plate.  Matt is extremely developed physically and has a chance to hit in the middle of our order early in his career.

Nate Van Ellis

Nate Van Ells, Greendale (WI) HS:  A three-sport athlete at Greendale High, Van Ells has been a three-year varsity letterman for the baseball team. He was named all-conference and all-suburban during his sophomore and junior season as he hit a solid .422 with 17 doubles and 22 stolen bases while striking out just three times on the year. He was also outstanding on the mound going 7-1 with a 1.05 ERA during his junior season.

Coach Loe comment:  “Nate is an outstanding athlete.  He will immediately be one of our fastest players and his versatility will give him a chance to contribute in a number of areas.”

Rob Henrichs

Robert Henrichs, Liberty HS:  A two-year letter-winner, Henrichs was the starting pitcher in the Missouri Class 4 state championship game for the Blue Jays last spring and finished with a 6-1 record on the mound.  Henrichs has also been a two-year starter on the Liberty football team. 

Coach Loe comment: “Rob is a quality high school pitcher that that has the rare combination of a live arm and a great feel for pitching.  Rob is a tremendous athlete who will immediately compete for innings on the mound that will also have the ability to compete on the infield.”

Rod Schmidt

Rod Schmidt, Edison (CA) HS:  Last year Schmidt was in the rotation at Edison High in California, one of the most prestigious high school baseball programs in the country. The Chargers were ranked as high as No. 1 in the nation by Max Preps, ESPN Rise and Baseball America during the spring. Helped the Chargers to a 25-4 finish and was selected to play for the 18-under National Team at the Goodwill Series in Australia in 2011.

Coach Loe comment: “Rod has proven that he can compete with some of the best competition nationally at the High School level.  He has a great feel for pitching with an advanced approach to the game.”

For more information, please contact:

Media Relations Department, Northwest Athletics | 660.562.1118 | Fax: 660.562.1582

Northwest Athletics
Lamkin Activity Center | 800 University Drive | Maryville, MO 64468