Eau Claire Express field manager Dale Varsho has announced the verbal commitment of four players to join the team in 2012. Two of the players are returning from the 2011 squad while the other two will be joining the Express for the first time.
UIC teammates Nick Addison and Ryan Shober will be back this summer, after both serving as key components to the Express this past summer. Joining them will be first baseman Casey Gillaspie and pitcher A.J. Ladwig, both of whom are playing at Wichita State.
Last season, Addison played in 53 games for the Express and hit .276. He hit seven home runs and had 27 runs batted in while serving mostly as a middle-of-the-order hitter. He also spent most of his time in right and centerfield and was a recipient of a Rawlings “Finest in the Field” award. He finished the season with a .990 fielding percentage.
Shober also was a key contributor to the team last season, appearing in 64 games and finishing with a .282 batting average. He hit five home runs, finished with 25 RBIs and led the team in runs scored with 49. Shober was a mid-season All-Star, participating in the game held in Wisconsin Rapids last summer. Shober spent time in the infield, but excelled in the outfield, serving mostly as the left fielder.
Gillaspie, a first baseman, will join the Express for his first season and he will also be playing his first season this spring for the Shockers. In his senior year of high school, he hit .515 with eight home runs, 22 doubles and 55 RBIs as he was named Gatorade Player of the Year in Nebraska.
Joining Gillaspie will be A.J. Ladwig, who is also a freshman this season at Wichita State. Ladwig is a right-handed pitcher and was named all state two years in a row in Nebraska. He was named to the Lincoln Journal Star Super State team as well.