WMU baseball and head coach Billy Gernon announced two signings to the 2021 recruiting class on Wednesday.
The small recruiting class comes as the college baseball world tries to figure out what an extra year of eligibility for everyone on the roster means for roster size issues the next few years.
The two student-athletes are Jack Fitzharris, from Northbrook, Ill. and Ethan Houghtaling, from Zeeland, Mich.
Fitzharris, who’s father Kevin played college and minor league baseball, was his high school’s starting shortstop and leadoff hitter in his sophomore year, helping the school to its seventh division title in nine years before his junior year was cut short by the coronavirus pandemic. In a wood bat league this summer, Fitzharris led his team in batting average (.331), on-base percentage (.486), hits (31), doubles (7), triples (6), walks (27) and stolen bases (36). He played basketball and football in high school before focusing on baseball, and has exceptional defense and speed as a middle infielder.
“Jack is another talented and versatile athlete that comes from a baseball family. His competitiveness and energy is contagious. He is a winner that comes from a very strong high school program and we are excited to add him to our locker-room. Fitzharris is athletic enough to play any and all positions on the field and embraces our academic culture,” Gernon said.
Houghtaling is a pitcher and infielder who has earned back-to-back All-Area and All-Conference honors. In his sophomore season, Houghtaling produced 59 strikeouts in 51 innings on the mound while putting up a .324 batting average. He is also a starter on the basketball team, and shows off his arm on the football field as well, where he is the starting quarterback. He earned All-Conference honors on the football field in 2019 to go along with his baseball accolades.
“Ethan is a multi-sport athlete with tremendous athleticism. We have a lot of former high school quarterbacks in our locker room and now we have another one. We highly respect his competitive nature and admire how conscientious he is academically. Ethan could make an impact on our program very early in his career. He epitomizes the student athlete and is exactly what we are looking for to continue to grow our culture,” Gernon said.
The two-person 2021 class marks a significantly smaller class than the eight-person group the team brought in for its 2020 class, but Gernon said he liked the quality of recruits they got this year rather than focusing on the quantity.
“I want to thank our coaching staff for their efforts on assembling this small in numbers but huge in athleticism recruiting class. Our philosophy each year is to improve on our culture by increasing our overall athleticism and to bring in selfless players that value the team more than themselves while striving for academic excellence. This class is no exception," said Gernon. "We feel great about the connection we have made with these recruits and their families and welcome them with open arms into our Bronco Baseball family.”