Jan. 27, 2023
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
The Wharton County Junior College Pioneers baseball team is geared up for a competitive 2023 season. Kneeling, from left, are student manager Tanner Hayes, AJ Smith of Kilgore, Derek Hernandez of Corpus Christi, Tucker Allen of Round Rock, Fabian Ramirez of Houston, Jonathan Gonzales of Houston, Aiden Huerta of Katy, Steven Thompson of Fontana, Calif., JJ Bush of Corpus Christi, Hunter Smith of Spring, Kameron Snodgrass of Corpus Christi and Levi Castilleja of San Antonio. Middle row, from left, are head baseball coach Trey Porras, Rafael Capistran of Brownsville, Carter Heinrich of Georgetown, Mohamed Harati of Houston, Dillon Chapa of Waller, Jordan McCladdie of Harlem, Ga., Cade Romero of Beaumont, Collin Coker of Sweeny, Ryan Perhson of Southlake, Brian Panneton of Tomball, Tyler Byrd of Atascocita, Jake Rabe of Corpus Christi, Kade Reynolds of Brazoria, assistant baseball coach John Cannon and assistant baseball coach Michael Molina. Back row, from left, are Cooper Hill of Bullard, David Lopez of Mission, Chris Whelton of Glen Ellyn, Ill., Keaton Hawk of Danbury, Blaise Wilcenski of Waterford, Mich., Brayden Evans of Pearland, Cole Columbus of Vancouver, B.C., Noah Krieger of Round Rock and Coy Pierce of Needville.
WHARTON, TEXAS – Wharton County Junior College Head Baseball Coach Trey Porras has high expectations for his team this season. Last year, the Pioneers set a single season win record and came within one game of winning an NJCAA regional.
“Last year’s group helped raise the bar for the program, but every season brings a new challenge,” Porras said. “These guys have been working extremely hard. I am excited to see them go out and do what they love to do.”
WCJC opened the 2023 season on Jan. 27 against Eastern Oklahoma State College. The Pioneers will play 10 games and compete in two tournaments before beginning conference play on Feb. 21 against Galveston College. The highlight of the non-conference schedule is a four-game series with NJCAA Division II National Champion Pearl River. This is a large reason why WCJC’s schedule is ranked the third toughest in the country by the Junior College Baseball Blog.
The Pioneers return several position players who saw significant time in the 2022 season. Headlining the group is sophomore first baseman Brayden Evans of Pearland. Evans has already committed to playing at Baylor University after WCJC and was tabbed the 21st overall junior college prospect in the country according to Dream Big Athletics.
Other key returners include All-Conference centerfielder Hunter Smith of Spring, Jake Rabe of Corpus Christi at shortstop and outfielder A.J. Smith of Kilgore. On the mound, Porras will rely upon David Lopez of Mission (he logged 43 innings as a starter and reliever last season) and Ryan Pehrson of Southlake, a University of Northern Kentucky commitment who threw 30 innings last season.
A few of the new contributors who figure to play a significant role include Texas A&M Corpus Christi transfer Tyler Byrd. The Atascocita High School product will be one of the main signal callers for the Pioneers this season. Additionally, freshman infielder Cooper Hill of Bullard displayed a loud bat in the fall. On the mound, Blaise Wilcenski of Michigan (he has signed to play at Tulane University) and Dillon Chapa of Waller will bring starting pitching experience from their prior schools.
For the season schedule, click here.