HHS senior Aaron Cantrell signed Saturday with Crowder College. Seated alongside Cantrell are his grandfather, Aaron, and mother, Lauri. Standing are, from left: Dave Bingham, Midwest Nationals coach; and Crowder coaches Don Lisi, Kyle Williams, Travis Lallemand and Tyler Sawyer.

Aaron Cantrell is joining one of the top junior college baseball programs in the country.

Cantrell, a senior at Houston High School, signed Saturday with Crowder College in Neosho. Cantrell was one of 23 players who were part of a signee event at the college.

Crowder coach Travis Lallemand said he saw Cantrell during the summer while he was playing for the Midwest Nationals. He invited Cantrell to campus to discuss the program.

Cantrell, who is 6-foot-2 and nearly 180 pounds, threw between 82-85 mph last season with Houston.

“Aaron has a great frame with a lot of upside on the mound,” Lallemand said. “He has good arm strength with a nice loose arm action, and the ball really jumps out of his hand.”

Lallemand said he was especially impressed with the mound presence of Cantrell, who was 2-5 with a 5.11 ERA in 38 1/3 innings his junior season at HHS. He struck out a team-high 57 batters and walked 34.

“While watching him pitch in the summer for coach (Dave) Bingham, you could see the competitive nature of Aaron when he is on the mound,” Lallemand said. “That was one of the biggest deciding factors in recruiting him to Crowder.

“Aaron has a chance to come in and be a difference maker on the mound for us.”

Crowder was ranked No. 1 in the National Junior College Athletic Association poll during the 2013 season and finished 13th. The Roughriders finished 47-13 after losing the Region 16 championship game.

Crowder is ranked 14th entering the 2014 season in Collegiate Baseball Newspaper’s preseason poll and 20th in the NJCAA. The program has won Regional 16 championships in 1983, ’84, ’85, ’91, 2008 and ’10 and the South Central district championship in 2010.

Cantrell’s signing class includes players from Missouri, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Texas, Colorado and Ontario, Canada. Among them are two players –– Webb City’s Cade Crouch and Trey Turner of Neosho –– who were Cantrell’s teammates over the summer with the Midwest Nationals.

Aaron has a chance to come in and be a difference maker on the mound for us.”

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