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Baseball inks five for 2014 season

HARROGATE, TN -- Lincoln Memorial University head baseball coach Jeff Sziksai announced the addition of five players for the 2013-14 roster on Thursday afternoon, as Cody Netzel, Muta Crusoe, Kyle Burger, Dominic Morabito and Ryan Burlison have decided to join the Railsplitters for the 2014 season.

Cody Netzel comes to Lincoln Memorial by way of Kankakee, Illinois. Listed at 6'0 and 168 pounds, Netzel is a left-handed pitcher who will join the Railsplitters after a two-year stead with Kaskaskia Community College. He will look to make an immediate impact on the program with his repertoire of swing-and-miss pitches, as Netzel set the single-season record at his high school with 153 strikeouts while also holding the career strikeout record with 301 to his credit. He was the recipient of the Athlete of the Year award at his high school and earned a McDonald's Athlete Scholarship at the conclusion of his prep career.

When asked why he made his decision to attend Lincoln Memorial, Netzel responded, "It was a beautiful campus and school and the education is very good. Also, the baseball team is very good and the family chemistry and unity is great. It is a good fit for me." Cody intends to major in physical education and kinesiology while at Lincoln Memorial.

Netzel's high school coach John Uphoff had strong words regarding Cody, stating, "Cody's favorite quote is 'To give anything less than your best is to sacrifice the gift' by Steve Prefontaine and when you see him work on and off the field and how he looks at adversity you will see that Cody takes that quote to heart. He finds ways to challenge that quote and better himself every day."

Regarding Cody, Mitch Koester, head baseball coach at Kaskaskia Community College, stated, "Cody is just a tremendous worker who has his better days ahead of him. He had a great freshman year and we expect him to once again pitch in the conference for us this year."

Railsplitter head coach Jeff Sziksai remarked on the impact Cody's signing will have on the Railsplitters, stating, "Cody brings a lot of positive things to our program. As KCC's projected ace, he is an athletic strike thrower that has a good feel for three pitches from the left side. Cody also possesses that mental toughness and competitive attitude that we covet in our program. Cody should come in and compete for important innings right away, and we are looking forward to him being part of our program."

Muta Crusoe is set to join the Railsplitters for the 2014 season and he comes to the program by way of Belwood, Illinois. A 5'9" and 174 pound infielder, Muta has developed as a potent offensive threat in the lineup at Proviso West High School, compiling a .380 batting average, three home runs, 28 RBIs, 10 doubles and four triples last season en route to earning All-Conference laurels.

When asked why he chose LMU, Muta responded, "I chose LMU because it specializes in the major I want to take up when I attend college and the baseball team is one of the best at the Division II level. The campus isn't that big but it's very spacious; not to mention it's nice and peaceful." He plans on majoring in kinesiology while at Lincoln Memorial.

Proviso West High head coach Jason Ziemer spoke highly of Muta, stating, "Muta is a good athlete with some serious potential as an offensive weapon. He also has a knack for making the exceptional defensive play when needed."

Regarding Crusoe, LMU head coach Jeff Sziksai stated, "Muta is a perfect fit for our program. He is very athletic and possesses very good bat speed and soft hands. More importantly, Muta is a great kid that plays very hard and is very tough. We are excited to see Muta develop in an LMU uniform and be a very good player for us."

Kyle Burger will also be joining the Railsplitters next season. A product of Fairfax, Virginia and Oakton High School, Kyle is a catcher listed at 5'10" and 170 pounds. Burger boast a strong resume, as he tallied a .368 batting average, a .421 slugging percentage, a .478 on-base percentage and a .899 OPS (on-base plus slugging percentage) last season for Oakton High. While competing for the Perfect Game WWBA in the summer of 2012, he compiled a .313 batting average. In the Northeast Qualifier for the Perfect Game WWBA in the fall of 2012, he notched a .571 batting average. He was an honorable mention selection for the 2012 VHSL AAA Baseball Team. Kyle has also been a prominent leader in his community and school, as he received the Cougar Accommodation Award for Volunteerism at Oakton High and acted as a FCA Huddle Leader at his school.

When asked what led to his choice to join the Railsplitters, Burger stated, "I chose LMU because I like the campus and the baseball team is competitive. I am confident that the coaches will lead the team to a Championship and help me improve my skills as a ballplayer."

Oakton High head baseball coach Justin Janis spoke highly of the player that Lincoln Memorial is receiving in Kyle, stating, "Kyle has worked extremely hard, and has made himself into the player he is today. Lincoln Memorial is getting a high character young man who has a quality set of baseball skills that will transfer to the college level. Defensively, Kyle is very solid behind the plate. He has a quick release and a very strong arm and that combination discourages other teams from trying to run on him. His athletic ability also shows when he is quick to field bunts."

Regarding Burger, LMU head coach Jeff Sziksai commented, "Kyle is another very athletic player in this early class. He can really catch and throw and runs very well for a catcher. Additionally, he has power potential in his bat from the left side, and, as he gets stronger, he could be big offensive threat. Catching is a big need in this recruiting class and Kyle fits the bill."

Dominic Morabito has also decided to continue his baseball career at Lincoln Memorial University and he comes to Harrogate, Tennessee by way of Vienna, Virginia. Listed as a 5'11" and 175 pound right-handed pitcher/infielder combo, Morabito will be competing in his final season for Bishop O'Connell High School this spring. Morabito brings a strong pitching resume to the Railsplitters, as he tallied 25 innings pitched over the summer with only one inning in which he allowed an earned run en route to earning East Cobb All-Tournament Team distinctions.

When asked about his choice to join the 'Splitters, Dominic stated, "I feel LMU is a perfect fit for me because of its size, rural setting and the baseball program. I am also looking forward to attending LMU with my big brother Nick."

Morabito's prep coach and summer pitching coach Kyle Padgett commented on Dominic, stating, "Dom has been great so far in being a leader for the younger guys in the R&D program as well as in the morning workouts at OC. He seems to cherish the leadership role. It fits Dom well and he's going to help every and any way he can. It's been a pleasure watching him grow over the past three years."

Regarding Dominic, LMU head coach Jeff Sziksai stated, "Dominic is dual-threat guy that knows what our program is all about because he has a brother (Nick) on our team already. Initially, we see Dominic contributing right away on the mound as he has a very good command and gets a lot of movement with all his pitches. However, as he develops in our strength and conditioning program, he could be a major contributor offensively down the road as well."

The final addition to the Lincoln Memorial University baseball program in the early signing period is Ryan Burlison, who comes to the Railsplitters by way of Romeoville, Illinois. Listed at 6'1" and playing on the left side of the infield, Burlison compiled a .316 batting average that included 13 doubles during the 2012 season at Oakton Community College. He is the son of Jim and Angie Burlison and he plans on majoring in education during his stay at Lincoln Memorial.

When asked about Ryan Burlison, Oakton Community College head baseball coach Bill Fratto stated, ""I am very proud to say that Ryan is a great individual that shows great skills on and off the field! He hits well and plays great defense. He will be a major contributor to your program. Off the field, his classroom skills are tops. As an individual, he will be a great person who will represent Lincoln Memorial to the best of his abilities!"

Regarding the addition of Ryan, head coach Jeff Sziksai commented, "Ryan is a long, rangy athlete that is a true left-side infielder. He can also swing the bat as he is projected to hit right in the middle of Oakton's lineup this season. However, the thing we like most about Ryan is his makeup as he is a very competitive and mature kid. We are excited about Ryan's future here, and he fits well with this recruiting class, as well as our returning players."

The 2013 season in Lincoln Memorial University baseball is set to get underway on February 1st, as the Railsplitters travel to Aiken, South Carolina for their annual season-opening three-game series against the University of South Carolina Aiken. Game one is scheduled to kickoff at 4 p.m.

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