MATHISTON – The East Webster Wolverines expect to have a strong pitching staff for the 2012 season.
One of the indications of that is two of those pitchers have attracted attention from the next level.
On Friday morning, Ty Hendrix and Conner Burton signed letters of intent to continue their careers at junior colleges. Hendrix will take his talents to East Central Community College in Decatur, while Burton will join the program at East Mississippi Community College in Scooba.
Burton is excited about what coaches Chris Rose, Michael Wallace and Jim Wells have brought to the Lions.
"Coach Rose is a very nice coach and the big thing was coach Wells coming from Alabama," Burton said. "That inspired me a lot.
"They've got nice facilities and nice dorms. Everybody down there are real nice people. I think I can go down there and make an impact. That's what I will try to do. I hope the coaches can teach me enough to get me to the next level."
It's Burton's hope to improve enough to have a chance to join Mississippi State.
Burton is the second high school player in as many days with pitching skills to sign with EMCC. The Lions were able to get Starkville High School's Nick Brooks on Thursday.
"We're excited to get guys from the 100-mile radius of East Mississippi," Wallace said. "We're going to look at (Brooks) in the outfield, middle infield and possibly pitching because with the aluminum bats, you can never have enough. We're always looking for pitching."
Wallace likes the qualities Burton brings to the table and looks for him to compete for playing time immediately.
"He has the make up we like," Wallace said. "He's a competitor and brings an intensity level, leadership capabilities and all of the intangibles that go along with it."
As far as Hendrix's choice of East Central, he was impressed with the atmosphere and the way coach Neal Holliman goes about his business.
"Some coaches you can look at and tell if he's different from other coaches," Hendrix said. "He has a great personality."
The two main things that attracted Holliman to Hendrix were his ability to pitch and his character.
"His character is out the roof," said Holliman, who is starting his sixth season at ECCC. "When you sign guys, you have a lot of evaluating to do. Sometimes you are wondering if you are making the right decision.
"Sometimes you know about a kid without a doubt. It's kind of like getting married and that's the feeling I got. You wish you could have that feeling with all 32 guys on your team, but there is some guess work in it. You hope you make the right decision and you have those you feel are a perfect fit." East Webster head baseball coach Wes Johnson said the signings of Burton and Hendrix get the season started "off on the right foot" and looks forward to seeing how the Wolverines perform with them on the mound.
"It's always good to return pitchers, especially experienced pitchers," Johnson said. "We happen to have three experienced pitchers. We're looking forward to some things happening in 2012. (Burton and Hendrix) had a lot of wins for us along with Codie Silver. We return all of our pitching from last year so it should be a good year."
With the pitching East Webster possesses, Burton likes the possibilities of where the team can go this season.
"Our pitching staff will be top of the line this year," Burton said. "We have a good potential to go to state this year."
The Wolverines participate in preseason scrimmages at Starkville on Feb. 18.