AC welcomes first athletes in revival of intercollegiate sports program


By Joe Wyatt

Amarillo College is pleased to welcome the first group of students attracted by the school’s much-anticipated return to intercollegiate athletics.

AC, which has not participated in intercollegiate athletics since the mid-1980s, will return to the competitive arena in 2022-2023 with teams in men’s baseball, women’s volleyball, and men’s and women’s cross country.

The Athletics Department, which announced the hiring of its three head coaches in July, just rolled out the welcome mat for a total of 27 inaugural students – 17 baseball players, and 10 poised to contribute in volleyball.

“Our goal in returning to competitive athletics is all about creating and expanding opportunities for students, so it’s extremely gratifying to bring the first students on board,” Mark White, athletics director, said. “A lot of people at the College and within the community have done a great deal of work getting us to this point.

“Our vision began truly taking shape last March when we were granted full membership in the National Junior College Athletic Association, and it picked up significant steam over the summer when we acquired three outstanding coaches. But to actually bid welcome to our first students, that’s the point at which we see our efforts coming to fruition.”

In 2022, AC will begin competing in the Western Junior College Athletic Conference (WJCAC), starting with volleyball next fall.

Volleyball coach Amanda Black welcomes a total of 10 individuals, some of whom are equipped with coaching and managerial expertise.

“We’re welcoming a great nucleus,” Black said. “We will continue welcoming students in the weeks and months ahead, and I cannot wait to see what the future holds for volleyball at Amarillo College.”

VOLLEYBALL STUDENTS WELCOMED

Caitlyn Benson – 5’8”
Setter – Weatherford, TX
Weatherford High School
Three-time All-District and American Volleyball Coaches Association’s Best and Brightest second team in 2021; led district with 60 aces last year.

Brooklyn Bundy – 5’6”
Setter – Amarillo, TX
Amarillo High School
Member of the history-making Amarillo High soccer team that reached the Regional Finals.

Carli Colbert – 5’9”
Setter/Outside Hitter– Lubbock, TX
Lubbock Cooper High School
Newcomer of the Year in District 3-5A in 2020.

D’Leah Hill – 5’6”
Outside Hitter – Lubbock, TX
Lubbock Cooper High School
Two-year starter on varsity who was an Academic All-State honoree as a junior.

Taylor Irving – 5’4”
Libero – Amarillo, TX
Randall High School
Named Defensive Player of the Year and was a member of the 5A All-State Team.

Katlyn Jones – 5’6”
Manager – Amarillo, TX
Randall High School
Five-year volleyball manager; the team finished third in the state in 2018, and second in the state in 2019.

Peyton Shelton – 5’9”
Student Coach – Amarillo, TX
Amarillo High School
Has a wealth of volleyball knowledge as demonstrated with a club team that had an 11-1 record and placed fifth at nationals.

Desiree Sotelo – 5;9”
Outside Hitter – Amarillo, TX
Randall High School
Second Team All-District selection in 2019, First Team in 2020, with two state appearances.

Alicia Torrez – 5’2”
Defensive Specialist – Amarillo, TX
Randall High School
An accomplished defensive specialist with 10 years of playing experience.

Lexi Ward – 5’3”
Defensive Specialist – Amarillo, TX
Caprock High School
Four-year varsity letter-winner with exceptional work ethic.

Baseball coach Brandon Rains, who welcomes 15 future Badgers into the fold, said: “In addition to the talent level, these guys are all good kids that will represent our Athletics Department, College, and Amarillo in a manner that will make us proud.”

BASEBALL PLAYERS WELCOMED

Devon Alvarado – 5’10” – 175 lbs.
LHP – Rio Rancho, N.M.
Rio Rancho High School
First Team All-District 1-6A and First Team All-State pitcher in 6A; All-Academic first-teamer who garnered four varsity letters and posted an 0.65 ERA last year.

Luis Delgado – 6’1” – 200 lbs.
Outfield – Amarillo, TX
River Road High School
Newcomer of Year as sophomore; First Team All-District as a senior, posting a .414 batting average with 39 RBI.

Jace Dominic – 6’5” – 185 lbs.
LHP/Outfield– Rio Rancho, N.M.
V. Sue Cleveland High School
All-Academic First Team, Second Team All-District; recorded 41 strikeouts in 34 innings.

Will Franklin – 6’2” – 190 lbs.
Outfield – Amarillo, TX
Amarillo High School
All-District 3-5A as junior first baseman; three-year varsity letterman who batted .355 in helping Sandies reach state tournament.

Cooper Golden – 6’4” – 200 lbs.
LHP/First Base – Odessa, TX
Permian High School
Second Team All-District 2-6A with a 9-2 record on the mound; fanned 50 batters with a .630 strike percentage.

Caden Hinther – 6’0” – 165 lbs.
RHP – Mustang, OK
Mustang High School
Member of an Oklahoma Regional championship team that was runner-up at State; struck out 40 batters and stole 15 bases as courtesy runner.

Mason Ladd – 5’10” – 175 lbs.
Utility – Amarillo, TX
Randall High School
All-District 3-5A catcher who batted .402 last year and caught 10 runners attempting to steal.

Javen Patrick – 6’4” – 165 lbs.
LHP/First Base – Amarillo, TX
Tascosa High School
Hit .333 as a sophomore; was named Defensive Player of the Year for 5A in Region I, District 3.

Garrett Payne – 6’3” – 195 lbs.
RHP/Utility – Mustang, OK
Mustang High School
High school team was the state runner-up after capturing an Oklahoma Regional Championship.

Lawson Peel – 6’2” – 180 lbs.
RHP/Catcher – Lubbock, TX
Frenship High School
Three-year varsity letterman and named Academic All-District; batted .379 with 1.023 OPS, four homers, 21 RBI, and caught 15 of 23 runners attempting to steal.

Dominick Priddy – 5’9” – 165 lbs.
Outfielder/Utility – Rio Rancho, N.M.
Rio Rancho High School
First Team All-State catcher as a junior, and First Team All-District quarterback, too; batted .453 last year for Rio Rancho HS.

CeeJay Saiz – 6’0” – 195 lbs.
Catcher/First & Third Base – Santa Fe, N.M.
St. Michael’s High School
District 2-3A Player of the Year and team captain who batted .565 with 7 home runs, 40 RBI, and a 1.705 OPS.

Cameron Saleh – 6’2” – 185 lbs.
RHP/Outfield/Third Base – Latana, TX
Denton Guyer High School
An exceptional athlete who is a dual threat on the mound at the plate who played club ball for the Dallas Mustangs.

Josh Splawn – 5’10” – 190 lbs.
Third Base/Outfield – Amarillo, TX
Tascosa High School
First-Team All-District third baseman who hits for both average and power; has three varsity letters for baseball; also a Second Team All-District running back in football.

Grant Watkins – 6’1” – 185 lbs.
RHP/Third Base – Los Alamos, N.M.
Los Alamos High School
All-District 4A his freshman and junior years; batted .430 with four triples and 21 RBI as a junior, and struck out 60 batters in 36 innings pitched, with a 2.04 ERA.

Gabriel Watson – 5’9” – 185 lbs.
RHP/Outfield – Hewitt, TX
Midway High School
First Team All-District 6A as an outfielder, with five home runs; posted a sterling 16-3 record on the mound with a fast ball in the 90s.

Aubrey Whitehead – 6’1” – 200 lbs.
LHP/Outfield/First Base – Cleburne, TX
Cleburne High School
All-District 14-5A first baseman who batted .416 with 23 RBI; Academic All-District also involved with National Honor Society, National Spanish Honor Society.

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