With fall practices and scrimmages officially underway, the UNC baseball offseason is in full swing. The Diamond Heels look to take the next step forward after losing to Arkansas in the Chapel Hill Super Regional last season.
New faces and talent enter the locker room every fall. Last year, center fielder Vance Honeycutt emerged as a marquee player in his first season and served as a spark for the Tar Heels in postseason play.
UNC baseball's incoming 19-man signing class will have many opportunities — both in daily practice and in numerous scrimmages — to prove that they can make an impact for the Diamond Heels in the spring. Tar Heel fans can expect many of these first-years to see playing time in the team's next scrimmage at Boshamer Stadium against Duke on Oct.14.
Left-handed pitcher Kyle Percival hails from Lancaster, S.C., where he was named the state Player of the Year in his senior season. Coming in at 6-foot-5 and 210 pounds, Percival will look to bolster the Tar Heels on the mound in his first season.
Percival played travel ball for a talented Dirtbags travel team, where he pitched his fastball at a maximum velocity of 91 mph.
At Andrew Jackson High School, Percival's team finished the 2022 season with a 33-2-1 record and won the South Carolina AA baseball championship.
Right-handed pitcher Matthew Matthijs is the reigning North Carolina Baseball Coaches Association 4A Player of the Year.
Like Percival, he will look to have an immediate impact on the mound for the Diamond Heels. Matthijs has already shown a glimpse of his skills, as he pitched an inning and recorded three strikeouts in the team’s first fall scrimmage against the Walters St. Senators on Friday.
Playing for D.H. Conley High School in Greenville, N.C., Matthijs went 10-1 in his senior season with a 0.91 E.R.A. Throwing a 91 mph fastball, Percival struck out 93 batters in 11 appearances. Offensively, Matthijs finished his senior season with 31 RBIs, 28 hits and a 0.373 batting average.
Infielder Austin Hawke was selected to the Collegiate Baseball All-America second team following his senior year at Reagan High School in Pfafftown, N.C.
The 30th ranked recruit in the state according to Perfect Game, Hawke first made a name for himself by recording 10 hits, 7 RBIs, and 14 runs in 14 games played his junior year. His on base percentage was a staggering 0.533.
In a recent intrasquad scrimmage at Boshamer Stadium, Hawke delivered a solo home run in the first inning.
Right-handed pitcher Cameron Padgett enters his first season for the Tar Heels as a two-time Rowan County Player of the Year following four seasons at East Rowan High School.
Standing at 6-foot-4, Padgett is a skilled pitcher with precision and untapped potential.
In his four years at East Rowan, Padgett played in 62 games and cemented his presence offensively with 59 hits, 31 RBIs, and 48 runs. On the mound, Padgett won all five games he pitched his junior year and went 10-1 his senior season. He recorded 180 strikeouts throughout his high school career.
The Tar Heels will look for Padgett to sustain success on the college level and emerge as a quality option in the bullpen this upcoming season.
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