by Ed Beach
Drury head baseball coach Scott Nasby has announced the signings of eight student-athletes that will join the program for the 2021 season.
Brandon Espy (OF, Marshfield, Mo.), Cade Waits (RHP, Tulsa, Okla.), Mason Foley (INF, Strafford, Mo.), Graham Breite (RHP, Springfield, Mo.), Wesley Laaker (RHP, Alton, Ill.), Isaac Ammann (OF, Shawnee, Kan.), Jarred Gay (LHP, Piedmont, Okla.), and Stephen Pursley (Util., Arcadia, Mo.) all signed national letters of intent to play for the Panthers next year.
Brennan Espy, 6’0″ 170, OF, Marshfield HS, 417 Baseball, Marshfield, Mo.
Brennan is a speed,y outfielder who is a three-sport athlete at Marshfield High School. He was named all-state his sophomore year as well as all-district and all-conference in both his sophomore and junior seasons. He plans to study Business while at Drury.
“We have known Brennan for a long time as he has showcased himself to be one of the best athletes in the area across a handful of sports,” said Nasby. “His speed and tools are advanced, and we expect him to earn playing time vacated from our senior-heavy outfield as a freshman.”
Cade Waits, 6’4″, 175, RHP, Metro Christian HS, Tulsa, Okla.
Cade was named Tulsa World All-City team member as a junior as well as all-conference. He will study Mathematics at Drury.
“His fastball sits in the upper 80’s with a three-quarters slot (arm angle) and has a frame that, once filled out, should be a low to mid 90’s arm,” said Nasby. “Cade got on our radar as he works with 2014 alum Will Landsheft as well as local legend George Frazier down in Tulsa. He has electric stuff and with some growth, maturity, and reps, will be one of the best arms on the staff.”
Mason Foley, 5’10” 165, INF, Strafford HS, Midwest Nationals, Strafford, Mo.
Another multisport athlete, Mason brings speed and experience to the team as he has played with a strong high school program in addition to being a member of the Midwest Nationals for several years. He was showcased in the baseball preview ‘Magnificent 11’s’ as one of the area’s top juniors, is an MHSBCA All-State infielder, a three-time all-district player, and a two-time all-conference pitcher. His versatility will allow Mason to compete at multiple positions during his time at Drury. He will study Business.
“Mason has been coming to camps for a few years, and his energy is infectious,” observed Nasby. “He has a passion for success and the process it takes to get there. I have no doubt that Mason will make an impact for our program during his career with the way, as he has conducted himself in a high-class manner in all aspects of his athletics and academic career.”
Graham Breite, 6’4″ 195, RHP, New Covenant Academy, Premier Baseball Academy, Springfield, Mo.
Graham is a long and lean RHP at 6-4 and 195 pounds. He has had success on the mound and at the plate at New Covenant Academy under head coach John Hartley as the Warriors went 22-7 last season. He has been a member of the cross-country team during his time as well at NCA. Breite has been named 1st team all-conference as a utility player as a junior as well as 2nd team all-district in the infield. He has been an All-State academic selection as well. During his time at Drury, he will study Exercise Science.
“Graham is a tireless worker and has shown great improvements in his ability on the mound over the last few years,” said Nasby. “His funk and continued velocity increase, combined with his determination, will push him to fight for innings early in his career. Graham will be one class behind his younger brother Max Breite, and brings the total number of brothers to play for the program to 14 in 13 years! “
Wesley Laaker, 6’0″ 190, RHP, Alton HS, Extreme Elite, Alton, Ill.
Wesley is a RHP who has come on strong for his senior campaign at Alton HS. His junior year was cut short due to injury but has still racked up all-conference, academic all-conference, and three varsity letters during his career. In his sophomore campaign at Alton, he saw a large workload for a very talented team. He will study Architecture while juggling a full baseball schedule at Drury.
“Wesley has shown the ability to throw strikes and keep hitters off-balance,” noted Nasby. “His arm is fresh after taking the last year off to rehab, and we are excited to build on the progress he has made. He is a highly intelligent young man, and with more strength and reps, he will compete for vacated innings by this year’s staff.”
Isaac Ammann, 5’10” 165, OF, Mill Valley HS, Building Champions, Shawnee, Kan.
Isaac has lettered at Mill Valley all three years during his career and been on the academic honor roll during that time as well. He has a great blend of speed and power and roamed the outfield for one of the best summer programs in the state. Isaac is also a member of the football team at Mill Valley, and he will study Finance while at Drury.
“We saw Isaac in prospect summer ball and knew that someone of his talent could help bridge the gap we will have with eight senior outfielders here in 2020,” said Nasby. “He will get an opportunity to play immediately and showcase his speed and strength in the field.”
Jared Gay, 6’2″ 230, LHP, Piedmont HS, OKC Sandlot Painter, Piedmont, Okla.
Jared will pursue and Architecture degree as well at Drury and will sling strikes from the left side. As a junior, he went 6-2 with a 1.06 earned run average in 40 innings last year while racking up 42 strikeouts with 11 walks. He has been a two-year participant of the Oklahoma State Games, a WWBA sophomore PG all-tournament team selection, a Big All-City conference honorable mention, and an honorable mention all-state honoree as well.
“We want to continue to build our left-handed depth as we have always been somewhat light when it comes to lefties,” Nasby said. “Jared will give us five left-handed options in 2021. He is an outstanding student, and we are excited to continue to expand our footprint into Oklahoma. He has thrown some big innings against some great competition, and we are excited to have him up to join the squad.”
Stephen Pursley, 6’0″, UTIL, Arcadia HS, Missouri Outlaws South, Arcadia, Mo.
Stephen is a true utility player. He has been a two-time all-conference selection, two-time all-district, and been named an all-state member of his cross country team. Pursley played for the Missouri Outlaws as well as with the Missouri Sunbelt team in the summer of 2019. He will study Exercise Physiology at Drury.
“Stephen came to camp to showcase his tools, and he did at a high level,” noted Nasby. “He showcases a 1.9 pop time behind the plate, a low 90’s arm from the outfield, the ability to compete on the left side of the infield, and runs balls in the mid to upper 80’s on the mound. Depending on his progress, we will have to make a decision at some point on where his focus needs to be, but in the meantime, we are excited to have someone with the tools he has and the abilities to impact the team at so many spots on the field.”
The Panthers are coming off of a 32-25 season that saw them advance to the NCAA-II tournament for the second time in three years. Drury will return seven starters to their line-up as well as 10 pitchers that saw significant time on the mound last year. Panthers head coach Scott Nasby will be in his eighth season leading Drury’s program and owns a career record of 230-156-1 with five NCAA-II Tournament appearances along with two Great Lakes Valley Conference championships. The Panthers open the 2020 season with a three-game series at East Central Feb. 8-9 in Ada, Oklahoma.
(Headline photo courtesy Drury)