Conant Heads Baseball Group Signings With 4-Year Universities

Jeremy Conant, one of six PCC players to sign with 4-year universities from the 2017 South Coast Conference champion baseball team.
Jeremy Conant, one of six PCC players to sign with 4-year universities from the 2017 South Coast Conference champion baseball team.

South Coast Conference Most Valuable Player and All-American first baseman Jeremy Conant leads a group of Pasadena City College baseball team players who signed scholarship letters to 4-year universities. The lefty-slugging Conant signed with NCAA Division I University of New Mexico.

A two-year letterman, Conant set several PCC batting records, including most RBI, most hits and highest batting average in a season. He helped the Lancers win the program's first-ever South Coast Conference title. Conant batted .429 with three home runs and 44 RBI. Named PCC's 2016-17 Men's Athlete of the Year for all sports, Conant played his prep ball at Alta Loma High. 

Also going D-1 is All-American second baseman Andres Kim, who will attend the University of South Carolina Upstate. Kim batted .335 with 11 doubles, two home runs, 26 RBI, a team-leading eight stolen bases and a new PCC school record for runs scored in a season with 43. Kim was an All-South Coast Conference First Team infielder. A product of St. Francis High, he played one season at PCC after transferring from UC San Diego. 

Going D-2 is All-SCC First Team starting pitcher Jesse Hanckel, who will play both baseball and football at Azusa Pacific University. Hanckel was the starting quarterback (1,522 passing yards) on the 2016 Lancers football team. For PCC baseball, Hanckel played just this past season as he posted a 4-0 record with a team-best 2.90 ERA in 49.2 innings. Hanckel attended Village Christian High and then Fresno State where he red-shirted in football before transferring to PCC.

Two-year letterman pitcher Nick Esparza, who led the SCC in saves with eight to go with a 3-3 record, 3.96 ERA, and team-leading 52 strikeouts in 63.2 innings, is headed to NAIA Georgetown College (Kentucky). A Monrovia High product, Esparza appeared in 23 of the Lancers' 41 games this season. He returned from the 2015 team when he was the team's No. 1 starter. 

Another NAIA-bound player is letterman relief pitcher Sergio Valenzuela, who will attend the University of Saint Mary (Kansas). Valenzuela posted a 4-2 record with one save this season. Valenzuela played his prep ball at Roosevelt High.  

PCC's 2017 transfer group also includes All-SCC Second Team sophomore shortstop Alex Briggs, who was an early signee with D-1 Long Island University-Brooklyn (New York). Briggs hit .279 with 11 doubles and 21 RBI while also playing stellar defense up the middle for the Lancers. Briggs (from Glendora High) was also a 2-year letterman and starter both years. 

"During our recruiting process, one of the commitments we make to the players is that if they put in the work and develop, their playing careers won't end after PCC," said PCC head coach Pat McGee. "To provide an environment where these kids can earn a university scholarship and continue their endeavors as student-athletes is a rewarding experience for the coaching staff. It's especially gratifying for this 2017 group of athletes that helped bring a conference championship and a super regional bid to the community. A great finish to a landmark year for the program."

McGee said that the six players will receive a combined $120 thousand in athletic scholarship money. That figure does not include financial aid or academic scholarship monies the student-athletes can receive.

Two-year pitcher Chris Brown has decided to end his playing career and will serve his country by entering the United States Air Force Academy. In 2016 and 2017, Brown compiled a 7-5 record in 92 innings for the Lancers.