NSU Baseball – Demons add three summer signees

NSU BaseballLane Burroughs and his Northwestern State baseball staff know recruiting is mainly about keeping lines of communication open at all times.

That persistence paid off handsomely, as the Demons have added three new players this summer.

The trio of junior Daniel Garner and freshmen Nathan Jones and Lenni Kunert will report to NSU in the fall and join Burroughs’ fourth Demons squad.

“We actually Jones and Garner recruited in the fall,” Burroughs said. “We had a relationship built up with these guys. I’ve known Garner a long time. I recruited him when I was at Mississippi State.

“We brought him over in the fall and offered him. He wanted to wait and had a great year at Shelton State. Some things happened. We had a need, and we were able to sign him. I think we got a steal there.”

Garner, a 6-foot-2, 225-pound junior catcher, joins a pitcher (Jones) and a middle infielder (Kunert) as additions to the Demons 2016 roster.

After spending two seasons at Mississippi State, Garner transferred to Shelton State in Tuscaloosa, Ala., for the 2015 season. While at Shelton State, Garner batted .324 with seven doubles, five home runs and 31 RBIs in 47 games en route to earning first-team All-North Division honors in the Alabama Community College Conference.

Garner’s track record of power production also included a league-leading nine home runs in the Great Lakes Summer Collegiate League in the summer of 2014.

In his lone season at Mississippi State, Garner batted .273 with three doubles and five RBIs in 24 games.

“He’s a very powerful hitter, very similar to Cort Brinson,” Burroughs said. “He has tremendous power, a real knowledge of the strike zone. He’s a really mature hitter. He’s going to do some great things behind the plate. He’s very physical and has played in some big-time venues.”

Jones is a 6-foot-1, 180-pound right-hander from Loyola College Prep in Shreveport where he was a teammate of fellow NSU signee Austin Townsend.  Jones was a three-year letterman at Loyola where he was named all-district each season and earned all-city and all-state acclaim as a senior.

As a senior, Jones went 6-2 in 10 starts for the Flyers, posting a 2.76 ERA and striking out 80 batters in 66 innings.

“He pitched on our field about a month ago,” Burroughs said. “He pitched really well, and we opened back up the lines of communication. It turned out we were able to get him. He’s an upper-80s guy with a plus slider and a chance to pitch early for us.”

Kunert was a two-time all-state selection at Live Oak where he raised his batting average in each of his four years.

A middle infielder, Kunert finished his career with 11 home runs and posted a .485 batting average as a senior. In his final high school season, Kunert collected 20 extra-base hits (12 doubles, three triples, five home runs) and earned all-state, all-metro, all-parish and all-district honors.

He played a key role in helping Live Oak reach the 2014 state championship game, batting .386 with 14 doubles, three home runs and 48 RBIs.

Kunert, a 5-8, 170-pound middle infielder, had been committed to LSU and Wichita State before signing with the Demons. While at Live Oak, Kunert played for former Demons outfielder Michael Palermo, a teammate of current NSU assistant coach Bobby Barbier.

“I think Lenni is one of the best players in the state of Louisiana,” Burroughs said. “His recruiting history tells you that. He’s been off the board since his ninth-grade year. He plays with a chip on his shoulder, with an edge. He’s really blue-collar, a real Dustin Pedroia type. He’s a good match for our program and what we do here. He’s got a chance to step on the field here and battle for a starting spot and put up great numbers.”