Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Baseball Signs Four Student-Athletes During Early Period

Courtesy: UAlbany Sports Information

Albany, N.Y. -- University at Albany baseball coach Jon Mueller announced on Tuesday, Nov. 20 that four student-athletes have signed national letters of intent to play for the Great Danes. Nate Novak, a 6-foot-3, 235-pound right-handed pitcher from Hudson, N.Y. (Hudson H.S.), Justin Shannon, a 5-foot-10, 225-pound right-handed pitcher from Rensselaer, N.Y. (Columbia H.S.), Zach Kraham, a 6-foot-5, 205-pound right-handed pitcher from Ghent, N.Y. (Chatham H.S.), and Ralph Keppler, a 6-foot-2, 205-pound catcher from Rockville Centre, N.Y. (Oceanside H.S.), each made his commitment during the early signing period.

“This is the most talented group we have ever signed early,” said Mueller, who led the Great Danes to their first-ever America East Conference Championship in 2007. “All three pitchers will pitch right away. At some point in their careers I could see all of them playing after college. The quality of this class is a result of our regional trip last year.”

Novak, who will enroll at UAlbany in January 2008 after two seasons at Hudson Valley Community College, was named to the 2006 NJCAA First Team All-America squad as a freshman. In 2007, he posted an 8-1 record and a 3.00 earned run average, while striking out 82 in 57 innings of work in leading the Vikings to the Mountain Valley Conference championship and the NJCAA Region III Final Four. Novak, the HVCC program’s all-time leader in wins with 16, was chosen the MVC’s Player of the Year and First Team All-Region III as a sophomore.

Shannon, who is currently attending Hudson Valley C.C., posted a 4-3 record and two complete games in 12 appearances in his first season with the Vikings. As a member of a pitching staff that led Hudson Valley to the 2007 Mountain Valley Conference Championship, Shannon compiled a 7.20 ERA in 30.0 innings of work, with 34 strikeouts while issuing just 17 walks. The Vikings, who finished with a 26-16 record, advanced to the Region III Final Four for the 10th time in the last 11 years. Shannon was also a member of the Melvin Roads American Legion team that won the New York State Championship and advanced to the Mid-Atlantic Regional.

Kraham went 7-0 with three saves and a 1.27 earned run average in 12 appearances on the mound for Chatham as a junior. In 55.1 innings, the right-hander struck out 80 batters while yielding just 32 walks and 39 hits. Kraham, who recorded six complete games and two shutouts in his eight starts, pitched a no-hitter against Taconic Hills and registered 10 strikeouts. In the batter’s box, Kraham hit .379 with four home runs, 23 RBI and 25 runs scored. He also had a stellar scholastic football career as a quarterback.

Keppler hit .429 with two home runs and 16 RBI while leading Oceanside High to the Nassau County Class AA playoffs. Keppler scored 11 runs and registered a .472 on-base percentage and a .643 slugging percentage for the 10-9 Sailors.

UAlbany made its first NCAA Tournament appearance after winning the America East championship last season. The Great Danes played Arkansas and Creighton in the Fayetteville Regional in June.

2008-09 University at Albany Baseball Signings

Name Pos. Ht. Wt. Hometown (High School)
Nate Novak RHP 6-3 235 Hudson, N.Y. (Hudson / Hudson Valley C.C.)
Justin Shannon RHP 5-10 225 Rensselaer, N.Y. (Columbia / Hudson Valley C.C.)
Zach Kraham RHP 6-5 205 Ghent, N.Y. (Chatham)
Ralph Keppler C 6-2 205 Rockville Centre, N.Y. (Oceanside)

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