BOILING SPRINGS – Gardner-Webb baseball continued to built on its strong foundation of talent Wednesday, announcing a seven-man class following the early signing period.
The Runnin’ Bulldogs added infielders Scott Johnson (Wilmington, N.C. / Hoggard HS), Ty Kelly (Jacksonville, Fla. / Providence HS) and Henry Rundio, Jr. (Dallas, N.C. / North Gaston HS), outfielder Alex Newman (Mocksville, N.C. / Anson County HS) and pitchers Will Canady (Cumming, Ga. / West Forsyth HS), Stephen Gilmore (Concord, N.C. / First Assembly Christian Schol) and Beau Hilton (Jacksonville, Fla. / Bartram Trail HS).
Johnson, a 6-0, 170-pound shortstop, rates as one of the top players in North Carolina’s Class of 2011 by Impact Baseball, and has helped his Hoggard (N.C.) High squad post a 41-8 record over the past two seasons. As a junior, Johnson batted .315 with a pair of home runs and 14 RBI, earning All-Area honors for the second year in a row as the Vikings went 21-3. Johnson batted a sizzling .438 with six home runs and 32 RBI as a sophomore, helping Hoggard to a 20-5 mark.
Kelly will bring a burst of speed back to the Gardner-Webb lineup, and has been one of the top players in Northeast Florida during the past two seasons. The 5-9, 165-pounder covers 60 yards in the 6.5-second range, and holds the single season batting average record at Providence (Fla.) High. Kelly is a two-time All-State selection heading into his senior season, and earned first-team Class 2A honors last season after batting .453 with six home runs, 28 RBI and 25 stolen bases. As a sophomore, Kelly earned honorable mention All-State honors after leading Providence to the Class 2A state finals.
Rundio is a second generation Runnin’ Bulldog, following in the footsteps of his dad, Henry Rundio, Sr. The younger Rundio was the Gaston Gazette’s Area Player of the Year in 2010 after batting .306 with a pair of home runs and 19 RBI at the plate, and posting a solid .950 fielding percentage at second base. Rundio also proved effective on the mound, fanning 78 batters in 60 innings to post a 9-3 ledger.
Another speedster who should help Gardner-Webb return to its base-stealing ways, Newman is one of North Carolina’s fastest players. The 5-foot-11, 160-pound center fielder is rated by Perfect Game as one of the nation’s top 1,000 prospects in the Class of 2011, with his 6.6-second speed in the 60-yard dash a dangerous weapon. Newman, who also stars for the Davie County football team (4.4-second speed in the 40), batted .333 with 10 doubles, 14 RBI and 14 steals in 25 games last season. He has stolen 25 bases in two seasons with the War Eagles.
Gardner-Webb’s pitching staff also received a boost during the early signing period, with three arms joining the ‘Dogs.
Canady, a 6-0, 170-pound southpaw, is a two-time All-Forsyth County selection. He was a standout utility player in 2010, batting .406 with three home runs, 26 RBI and a .564 on bases percentage at the plate – and going 1-0 with a 2.44 ERA and an eye-popping 68 strikeouts in only 33.0 innings of work. Canady allowed just 19 hits on the season.
Gilmore, a 6-foot-3, 160-pound lefty, earned NCISAA All-State honors in 2010 after fanning 94 batters with only 19 walks in 56.0 innings on the mound. Gilmore hurled six complete games and forged a 1.88 ERA for First Assembly Christian, where he hs been a varsity starter since the eight grade. Gilmore earned All-Area honors from the Cabarrus News, and is a two-time All-Conference choice.
Perhaps the class’ most heralded prospect is Hilton, a 6-foot-3, 190-pound standout who is also ranked as one of the nation’s top 1,000 rising senior prospects by Perfect Game.
Hilton, who has excellent velocity and control, has won 14 games to date in his high school career – twice earning All-County honors from the St. Augustine Record. Last season, Hilton was 7-4 with a 1.40 ERA and 67 strikeouts for Bartram Trail, earning first-team All-District honors. As a sophomore, he forged a 7-2 mark and a 1.40 ERA to earn honorable mention Class 5A All-State honors.