HARROGATE, TN -- Aaron Johnson and Josh Vestal are set to join the Railsplitters for next season, Lincoln Memorial University head baseball coach Jeff Sziksai announced Thursday afternoon. The Railsplitters have hit the recruiting trail hard this offseason as these two additions bring the total to 12 new players for the 2013 campaign.
Aaron Johnson, brother of current Railsplitter, Austin Johnson, comes to the Railsplitters after a strong career at Lexington Christian Academy in Lexington, Kentucky. At 5'9" and 165 pounds, Johnson is a two-way player that will immediately bolster the depth of the pitcher staff and the lineup. On the mound, he compiled a 2-1 record along with three saves in 22 innings pitched. He notched a 3.82 earned run average for the season. Johnson thrived at the plate as he recorded a .337 batting mark with two doubles, a pair of triples and a home run. He also led the team with 11 stolen bases. For his work this season, the Lexington native earned 2012 All-Tournament Team in the All-A State Championship weekend along with 43rd All-District Tournament Team.
Johnson was pursued by Transylvania University, Moorehead State University and Flagler College before he ultimately chose to attend Lincoln Memorial University. When asked why he chose LMU, Johnson replied, "LMU provides an excellent academic opportunity as well as an outstanding baseball program. I look forward to the opportunity to challenge my abilities in the classroom as well as on the field."
Lexington Christian Academy coach Keith Galloway spoke highly of Aaron, stating, "Aaron is an outstanding student-athlete in every sense of the term. He takes his classroom studies equally as serious as his baseball performance. He definitely goes the extra mile in terms of work ethic and preparation. LMU is getting another excellent Johnson as a member of their student body and baseball program."
"Not only is Aaron a quality baseball player and athlete, but he is a quality student and person as well," said Railsplitter head coach Jeff Sziksai. "Having a brother already in our program, Aaron knows what is expected from him as an LMU baseball player, and we are excited to see how that hard work pays off for him and allows him to develop. Aaron is a great fit for us and we are excited to have him."
Josh Vestal will continue his career at Lincoln Memorial University after a solid prep career at Dobyns-Bennett High School in Kingsport, Tennessee. Vestal, a 6'2", 150 pound, right-hander hurler, brings size and a huge ceiling to the Railsplitters' rotation. This season, he compiled a 6-0 mark with a 1.91 earned run average. Over that span, Vestal struck out 41 batters in 44 innings pitched. He was named Big 8 All-Conference Honorable Mention in 2010, 2011 and 2012.
King College, Maryville College and Centre College pursued Vestal before the east Tennessee native decided to join the Lincoln Memorial University baseball program. When asked why he chose LMU, Vestal commented, "I chose LMU because they have great academics. I love the atmostphere of the campus, and the coaches are great. I believe LMU will provide a place for me to excel both in class and on the field."
"Josh is a lean, athletic kid who has good upside," stated LMU head coach Jeff Sziksai. "He can throw three pitches for strikes, and really competes. As he gets stronger, he has a chance to really blossom into great asset for our program. We are looking forward to his development in an LMU uniform."