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PNG holds signing ceremony for eight; three going Division I

PORT NECHES — Softball coach Jessica Lemoine could not help thinking about the number of college signees from Port Neches-Groves on Wednesday when she introduced them.

“It says a lot,” baseball pitcher Brandon Petix said. “In my opinion, this is a great area to get exposed, and we won the state championship last year, so that was awesome. It’s just all-around great.”

Four softball and four baseball players each inked a letter of intent to schools from the junior college ranks to NCAA Division I within the past week. For those who actually signed last Wednesday, when the fall signing period began, the signing ceremony inside PNG’s main gymnasium was a formality.

PNG’s baseball team has produced two Division I commitments in pitcher Josh Hranicky (Lamar) and Holden Lane (Texas Southern), with softball standout Kaitlyn Boudreaux headed to Stephen F. Austin.

Hranicky, the Texas Sports Writers Association’s 5A MVP, said nothing was going to change his mind about signing with the Cardinals, who’ll begin their second year under Will Davis in February.

“The coaches are friendly,” the left-handed pitcher said. “I talk to them all the time. They’ve been really nice to me and I get to be at home and do what I love to do. That’s awesome because all the people I inspire at a young age can come watch me just down the road.

Lane, who smacked the go-ahead two-run single in PNG’s state semifinal win over Frisco Wakeland in June, is joining a Texas Southern team that has won the Southwestern Athletic Conference two of the last three years. He said the Tigers recruited him as a pitcher and first baseman, adding the SWAC title was an attraction.

“To be able to do both [positions], that was big,” Lane said.

Boudreaux, a catcher, was previously committed to Purdue, but a coaching change at the Big Ten school led the District 22-5A defensive player of the year to de-commit and allowed the Lady Jacks to pick her up.

“I didn’t really flow and fit with the coaches [at Purdue],” said Boudreaux, a .461 hitter last year. “My best friend was committed to SFA at the time, and I went to a camp with her, and I fell in love with program.”

Lemoine’s softball team had two sign with Division II programs. Britni Hunt is going to Angelo State, and Callie Jourdan is headed to Ouachita Baptist University in Arkansas.

Jourdan said one of her coaches from the Golden Triangle Shockers travel club talked with Ouachita’s coach, who happens to be a close friend, about her. Ouachita (wah-shih-tah) competes in the Great American Conference, which includes six Oklahoma schools, some of which formerly competed in the Lone Star Conference.

She might get to come across Hunt on a college field somewhere. Angelo State, based in San Angelo, is a powerhouse in the Lone Star Conference and finished runner-up to Minnesota State-Mankato in the Division II national championship series.

“It just seemed like the right spot for me,” Hunt said. “The team was very welcoming to me. It’s an all-around good school.”

Left-handed pitcher Brandon Petix and third baseman Austin Bost will play JUCO ball in 2019 at Alvin Community College and Panola College, respectively. Softball standout Brooke Smith is staying home and going to Lamar State College Port Arthur.

“I like the way they play,” Smith said of the Seahawks. “I like the way the coaches coach. I’ve thought about it for a long time, and I’m just excited with my decision.” Bost’s future team, Panola, won the Region VI East Zone championship last season and surpassed the 40-win mark.

“It’s one of the top JUCOs in the nation,” Bost said. “I’m glad I get to go up there. They play some great baseball. They were ranked sixth in the nation last year.”

Petix threw a no-hitter last season and is expected to see more starts as a senior, with 5A tournament MVP Brandon Morse and Nathan Vidrine having moved on to JUCO ball. Petix will reunite with Vidrine at Alvin.

I.C. Murrell: 549-8541. Twitter: @ICMurrellPANews

About I.C. Murrell

I.C. Murrell was promoted to editor of The News, effective Oct. 14, 2019. He previously served as sports editor since August 2015 and has won or shared eight first-place awards from state newspaper associations and corporations. He was born in Memphis, Tennessee, grew up mostly in Pine Bluff, Arkansas, and graduated from the University of Arkansas at Monticello.

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