Posted Online: July 23, 2011, 6:30 pm

Six BHC baseball standouts sign with four-year schools

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By Tom Johnston,

The sophomore class that helped the Black Hawk College baseball team to a tremendous 44-9 spring season was not very big.

But it was talented.

And six of those 10 sophomores can now call BHC a stepping stone in their athletic careers as they prepare to make the move to four-year schools — either locally or the big-time of college athletics. Among them were Arrowhead Conference co-MVPs — Alleman's Mark VanNatta (staying local and heading to Augustana) and Chris Burgess, who BHC coach Arnie Chavera said is the first Brave to jump to the Big 12.

Burgess played the waiting game and it paid off for him in a full-ride scholarship to Oklahoma University. He inked his deal after the June amateur draft opened some options for him after a solid spring. The first-team NJCAA All-Region selection was 6-4 with a 2.14 ERA and 75 strikeouts against 21 walks in 63 innings. He also fired seven complete games in 11 starts.

"He can compete at that level," said Chavera of his standout from St. Charles East High School via Central Michigan University. "In the three semesters we had him, his work ethic improved and he developed to a point where this could happen."

A much improved slider was also key to Burgess being drafted by the Tampa Bay Rays in June, an offer he passed on to continue his education.

As for VanNatta, his best option also came after a stellar spring in which he hit .393 with 14 doubles, three triples and two HRs with 39 RBIs. He finished with a .552 slugging percentage.

"He's a huge asset for what we need," said Augie coach Greg Wallace, who graduated some strong outfield contributors. "Plus, we always love to get local talent."

Chavera said VanNatta was also being courted by St. Ambrose and was torn between the between the two local schools.

"I can see him being an impact kid for them," said Chavera. "I think he'll be happy with that decision."

Moving on from BHC

Six sophomores on the Black Hawk College baseball team that went 44-9 this past spring will be moving on to four-year schools this fall. They are:
RHP Chris Burgess (St. Charles East HS/Central Michigan University) Oklahoma
SS J. Golden (Dav. Assumption HS) Minnesota State Univ.
RHP Adam Karger (Batavia HS) Univ. S.C. at Pembroke
OF Mark VanNatta (Alleman HS) Augustana College
INF KC Wright (St. Charles North HS) Judson College
LHP Cole Dodson (Brimfield, Ill.) Hannibal-LaGrange College