HANCEVILLE – Wallace State Community College's baseball team has 10 players primed to continue their careers at four-year institutions next season.
Matt Drake, the team leader in average, hits, runs scored and doubles, is transferring to Middle Tennessee State University after one year with the Lions. Drake, a Cullman High grad, hit .383 this season with six homers, 41 RBIs, 59 hits, 46 runs scored and 12 doubles.
Ben Hawkins, the Lions' top pitcher in 2010, has signed with the University of West Florida after leading the staff with a 9-3 record and a 3.03 ERA. He evolved into Wallace State's ace after injuries derailed most of the starting rotation.
Closer Gil Walker has hooked on with Samford, Hunter Cross and Brian Wheeler have each signed with Auburn-Montgomery and Adam Russell and Jonathan Brook are headed to West Alabama.
Three Wallace State pitchers who all went down with season-ending injuries early in the year plan to rebound next season. Wes Holley is signed with UAB, while Nathan Hill and Chris Fisher are headed to Troy.
Wallace State finished the season 26-22 and advanced to the Alabama Community College Conference tournament for the 21st consecutive season under coach Randy Putman.
"I give a lot of credit to the sophomores for never giving up. Every one of the sophomores worked hard and did what I asked them to each and every day." Putman said. "They were put into a difficult situation because we only had two starting pitchers near the end of the season, but they found a way to get us to the conference tournament and gave us a chance to win."
Putman will enter the 2011 season just two wins shy of 800 for his career. He was a 2006 National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) Hall of Fame inductee.
Returning Wallace State players next season include Jesse Carroll, Dustin Hood, Tyrone Smith, Brad Montgomery, Charlie Esskucken and Chazz Otwell.
For more information about Wallace State athletics, visit wallacestate.edu.