published Wednesday, March 2nd, 2011

Cleveland State signs area trio

Cleveland State recently signed three area high school seniors for its 2011-12 baseball team: Polk County’s Michael Hargrove and Tyler Lee and Soddy-Daisy catcher Damian DeMatteo.

They join brothers Thomas and Alex Huddleston from Summertown High. Thomas is a 6-foot-6 pitcher and Alex is a catcher.

Hargrove and Lee starred for Polk’s district-champion football team and are “really good competitors,” according to baseball coach Bill Triplett. Hargrove, a left-handed first baseman and outfielder, batted .600 and .545 the last two springs, with five home runs, 16 doubles, 43 RBIs and 44 runs scored in 2010.

“He has hit at every level he’s been at,” Triplett said. “He hit against very good summer pitching in some impressive venues with the Tennessee Twisters, and he’s added some power. He can really swing the bat.”

Lee is a Wildcats infielder but “is versatile enough he can also play the outfield,” Cleveland State coach Mike Policastro said. He hit .360 with six homers, 12 doubles, 25 stolen bases, 41 runs and 27 RBIs as a junior leadoff man and also played with the Twisters last summer.

“His arm is good enough to play every position in the outfield,” Triplett said, “and he’s going to bring speed to their lineup.”

Policastro said DeMatteo “is a really good catcher and has a chance to be a pretty consistent hitter at our level. He threw out 73 percent of the runners trying to steal on him last year, and he’s caught good pitchers and played on pretty good summer programs.”

DeMatteo batted .305 with three homers and 24 RBIs last season.

“I think he can go in and play right away for them,” Trojans coach Jared Hensley said. “Damo’s an extremely, extremely hard worker and a huge leader for our program. He worked incredibly hard in the offseason revamping his swing.”

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