Monday, November 15, 2010

Diamond Dawgs Sign Six


Georgia baseball coach David Perno announced six more additions to the latest UGA recruiting class Monday.

Infielder Dante Bichette, Jr., outfielder Justin Bryan, outfielder Zach Freeman, outfielder/pitcher Heath Holder, pitcher Reggie McClain and infielder Tyler Palmer all have signed a national letter-of-intent to attend UGA.

A 6-1, 218-pound right-handed hitter from Orlando, Fla., Dante is the son of Dante and Mariana Bichette. He attends Orangewood Christian School where he plays for coach Alan Kunkel. Bichette earned Central Florida Player of the Year honors, was named an Under Armour All-American and offensive team Most Valuable player following his junior season. He batted .595 with nine home runs and 37 RBI for the Rams. As a sophomore, he earned All-State honors after batting .558-12-44 with 21 stolen bases. In 2005, Dante participated in the Little League World Series with his Maitland, Florida team. His father enjoyed a 14-year career in the Major Leagues.

“I can’t wait to be a Dawg, signing with UGA was a great decision,” said Bichette.

“Dante is one of the headliners of our signing class because he does a lot of things well,” said Perno. “He has the most power in our class, it’s in his genes. He’s a corner infielder and will be a great fit here. We had a real connection with him and his family.”

A 6-5, 230-pound right-handed hitter from Lavonia, Ga., Justin is the son of Mac and Tracy Bryan. He attends Franklin County High School where he plays for coach Brent Honeywell. As a junior, he played for the CSRA Crusaders, a home school team based in Augusta and coached by Chris Demons and Chris Tate. He batted a team-best .545 with three home runs, 42 RBI and 26 stolen bases. Also, he had eight triples and nine doubles with a .987 slugging percentage as the Crusaders went 17-9 and finished third nationally in the HWSA Championships. His honors include being named a HWSA All-American in 2008 and to the Georgia Dugout Club Top 100 in 2010. Justin’s father player football at UGA in 1983-84.

“I feel very blessed and excited for this opportunity,” said Bryan. “It has always been a dream of mine to play baseball at UGA.”

“Justin is a big, physical athletic young man with loads of potential,” said Perno. “He is getting better every day.”

A 5-10, 180-pound left-handed hitter from Lake Park, Ga., Zach is the son of Debbie Freeman. He is an Honor Roll student at Lowndes High School where he plays for coach Danny Redshaw. As a junior, he had a team-high 28 RBI and 15 stolen bases and hit .385 with five home runs for the Vikings. He participated in the 2010 Area Code Games in California and was named to the Georgia Dugout Club Top 100. As a sophomore, Freeman batted .412 with a team-leading 10 home runs and 41 RBI to earn Best Offense honors.

“I’m looking to earn a starting spot my freshman year and making an impact,” said Freeman who added it has been his dream to play for UGA.

“Zach has a huge upside with a great mentality who fits in our future plans as a centerfielder,” said Perno. “He is a left-handed hitter who had an injury as a junior but he’s healthy now.”

A 6-5, 210-pound right-handed hitter/pitcher from Loganville, Ga., Heath is the son of Don and Kim Holder. He is an honor student at Loganville High School where he plays for coach Jeff Segars. Holder has earned letters in baseball, football and basketball and received the scholar-athlete award. He earned second team All-Region honors as a junior in helping the Red Devils to a 25-6 record and a region title. They advanced to the sweet 16 and finished ranked number six in AAAA. As a sophomore, they captured the region and made it to the final four of the state playoffs. Holder hails from an athletic family as his father played football at N.C. State from 1982-84 and his grandfather, Bob, lettered in basketball at UGA in 1959.

“The decision wasn’t hard because I have always wanted to be a Dawg,” said Holder.

“Heath is going to be a two-way player for us as a big, physical talent,” said Perno. “He has the ability to play the outfield and great potential as a pitcher too.”

A 6-2, 185-pound right-hander from Johns Creek, Ga., Reggie is the son of Ronald and Kimberly McClain. He is an honor student at Northview High School where he plays for coach Josh Bartlett. McClain went 3-2 with a 1.69 ERA and 40 strikeouts in 33 innings pitched as a junior for the Titans. McClain was an honorable mention Rawlings All-American in 2010. He has earned the VIP Award for citizenship and the Legion of Scholars Award at Northview. He participated in the Team Georgia 17Under squad and went 5-2 with a 1.34 ERA in 52 innings.

“My decision to attend Georgia was based on their beautiful campus, the coaching staff and the legacy of Georgia baseball,” said McClain.

“Reggie is one of our frontline pitchers in this class, and he made a huge jump this summer,” said Perno. “He is very athletic and has tremendous feel as a pitcher. He’s going to be an important asset to our pitching staff.”

A 6-0, 180-pound switch-hitter from Odum, Ga., Tyler is the son of Gerimi and Jenny Palmer. He attends Wayne County High School where he plays for coach Brad Weir. A multi-sport athlete for the Jackets, he has earned letters in baseball, football, basketball and golf, and he has had perfect attendance since the eighth grade. As a junior, he batted .471 with 14 home runs and 61 RBI plus registered 16 stolen bases. The Jackets went 28-5, captured the region title and advanced to the final four of the state playoffs. He was named Best Offensive Player and Region Player of the Year. As a sophomore, he hit .438-7-35 with 14 stolen bases. Palmer has been a member of Junior Team Georgia that won a title, and he made the All-Tournament team.

“I’ve always wanted to attend UGA, and I’m looking forward to playing baseball there and getting an education,” said Palmer.

“Tyler is an excellent middle infielder with great pop for his size,” said Perno. “He is going to be very good at the plate and in the field and capable of making an immediate impact.”

The early national signing period continues through Nov. 17, and the Dawgs will announce additional members of their recruiting class throughout the week.

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