The journey will continue for one Crowder Lady ‘Riders softball player and two Roughriders baseball players next season, as the Allison Tonyan, Sam Hilliard and Mark Reyes inked letters of intent to continue their collegiate careers in the future.
Tonyan, a Columbia, Mo., native and a sophomore-to-be for the Lady ‘Riders, is headed to the University of Central Missouri in Warrensburg, where she’ll help anchor the starting rotation for the Lady Jennies. In her freshman campaign at Crowder, Tonyan went 13-7 on the mound with a 2.96 ERA over 1202/3 innings with 61 strikeouts and 60 walks. The right hander also hit .600 at the plate in just five games, but her calling will be on the mound at UCM.
“It’s really exciting,” Tonyan said. “I really liked the coaches (at UCM) and I liked playing against them, you could tell (the players) all worked hard. They’re committed to winning and working together. I’ve really learned a lot being (at Crowder) and what it takes being tough on the mound.”
Crowder coach Lori Videmschek said Tonyan is a key asset to the Lady ‘Riders.
“She’s one of our top pitchers that we have in our program,” Videmschek said. “Last year she really matured and developed as a pitcher, and the last part of the season she pretty much had an ERA the last three weeks of (zero) which is really awesome, especially the level that we’re playing. She has a work ethic that’s hard to see with pitchers.”
While Tonyan has already spent a year on the Crowder campus, the day’s other signees are fresh faces to campus, and are highly touted to help the club’s success in 2014. Hilliard, a 2012 graduate of Mansfield (Texas) High School, comes to the Roughriders as a transfer from Navarro College. Coach Travis Lallemand said he had some help finding Hilliard through his connection with the Arlington A’s, an elite summer traveling team that comes to Neosho on a yearly basis as part of the Premier Baseball World Series.
The left handed pitcher will help fill the void left when the Roughriders lost 2013 starters Preston Tarkington (Ole Miss), Jon Woodcock (Virginia Tech) and Chris Caudle (Central Arkansas).
“That’s what that summer league did for us,” Lallemand said. “It gave me an opportunity to meet Dave Acton, and he told us about Sam. It took us a while, but when I was out in Oakland going to watch (Mike Kickham’s major league debut) he visited and Coach Lisi, Coach Sawyer and Coach Williams showed him around and sold him on the place, and they did a really good job on their part. He’s getting the same opportunity (as Reyes), coming into a school and being one of the frontline guys coming out in the fall and getting a lot of exposure for us.”
Page 2 of 2 - Hilliard said he’s looking forward to what he hopes is a big season for the Roughriders this year before moving on to the Shockers.
“This fall it’s starting to get really rough for the post fall workouts and stuff,” Hilliard said. “This year, we’re supposed to do big things. Obviously, the goal is to win a national championship, but we’ve got to take it one step at a time.
“Coach (Todd) Butler has been really good to me,” he added about Wichita State. “I just felt a really good vibe from the school, not to mention their facilities. Their baseball field is really incredible, and their facilities are awesome.”
Signing a letter of intent is nothing new for Crowder newcomer Reyes. A highly touted recruit out of high school, Reyes, a 46th round draft pick by the Baltimore Orioles (1,385th overall) in the 2011 Major League Baseball Rule IV Draft, comes to Crowder as a transer from the University of Arkansas, where he pitched in six games for the Razorbacks as a freshman in 2012. Following that campaign, Reyes underwent Tommy John surgery and missed the entire 2013 season.
He’ll be looking to bounce back with the Roughriders before rejoining the Division I ranks with Southern Mississippi.
A native of Hot Springs Village, Ark., Reyes is a graduate of Jessieville High School.
“It’s really exciting signing,” Reyes said. “This is my third time signing, so I’m kind of used to it. If this was a four-year school I’d definitely choose this for a four-year school, but it’s a two-year, so I’ve got to move on. I thought Southern Miss was a better fit (than other options).
“That was definitely a plan I had coming in was to sign early and get it out of the way so I didn’t have to worry about where I’m going next year and I could focus on baseball.”
Lallemand said Reyes, a southpaw, is expected to be a big asset to the pitching staff.
“We knew coming in we had a legitimate No. 1 type guy and he would have a semester in the fall to be, once everybody knew where he was at, would have an opportunity to sign him,” Lallemand said. “He’s been really good for us all fall and we’re excited for him, excited for him to get the opportunity, obviously.”