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A Ring of Familiarity

With the New Year approaching, summer baseball is right around the corner. The Brazos Valley Bombers will be looking to build off of two successful years that have included playoff runs and gain the ultimate prize- a TCL Championship trophy.

Brazos Valley announced today the signings of six returnees from last summer’s club, all of which hope to make a significant impact on the 2009 team. Pitchers Travis Dirk, Brian Watson, and Jake Liedka will be joined by infielders Cliff Vaughn and Danny Hernandez, as well as outfielder Chad Colbert in their second seasons with the Bombers. Bombers owner Uri Geva was ecstatic about the signings, saying “As an organization, we’re happy to bring back six high-character players who will provide stability and experience to the team as we attempt to improve on the successes of the past two seasons.”

Travis Dirk returns to the Bombers for his second run after a spectacular season for the Bombers this past summer. Serving as the set-up man for Texas Collegiate League saves record holder Dustin Rasco, Dirk was an effective pitcher in the late innings. The 6’4”, 230 pound right-hander was nothing short of dominant out of the pen, as he compiled a 3.06 ERA and held opposing hitters to a scintillating .204 batting average. Finishing second on the team with 14 appearances, Dirk allowed just 27 hits in 35.1 innings, while striking out a team-high 34 hitters. The junior will be playing with the New Mexico Lobos this spring after two successful seasons at Navarro Junior College and expects to be a vital component of their bullpen.

 Making only one appearance for the Bombers last season, Brian Watson quickly made his mark. After spending his summer in the Dallas Amateur Baseball Association, Watson joined the Bombers just before the deadline and drove down to the Brazos Valley to make his first TCL start on August 2 against the eventual champion McKinney Marshals. The left-hander from UT Arlington completely handcuffed the hard-hitting Marshals and recorded a complete game shutout as the Bombers won 3-0. Entering his junior season, he figures to be an important piece in the Bombers rotation this summer.

Jake Liedka was another late addition to the 2008 Bombers who proved to be a solid addition. The southpaw posted a 3.31 ERA in three starts, all no decisions, and held opposing hitters to a .225 batting average. Originally from San Antonio, Texas, Liedka starred at Judson High School before moving on to Wharton Junior College. Last season, he was 2-3 with a 5.14 ERA in 42 innings, while recording 23 strikeouts. The junior will be transferring to Texas A&M Corpus-Christi this season and hopes to make a considerable impact on the Islanders pitching staff.

At 6’3” and 214 pounds, Cliff Vaughn is an imposing figure at the plate. After being redshirted by Southeastern Conference powerhouse Ole Miss, he served as the Bombers starting first baseman for the majority of last summer. He put his tremendous power on display, as he led the team with 10 doubles and finished second with 20 RBI. Vaughn was heavily recruited after enjoying an illustrious high school career at Memorial High School in Houston, Texas. He capped off his career by hitting .426 with 12 home runs his senior season, on his way to being named All-American Honorable Mention.

At a time when the Bombers were facing multiple injuries and the everyday players were growing more and more fatigued, Danny Hernandez came to the rescue. The shortstop from San Jacinto College joined Brazos Valley in the middle of July last summer and provided instant offense and solid defense. In his first game with the team, he collected two hits, including a line drive that knocked in the winning run against the East Texas Pumpjacks. He continued his hot streak for the remainder of the season, hitting a team-best .333 with eight RBI and also led the team with a .474 slugging percentage. Although he is only a sophomore, Hernandez’s talents have drawn heavy interest from Major League scouts. In his freshman season with San Jacinto, he hit .277 and put his speed on display, stealing nine out of 10 bases.

Like Vaughn, Chad Colbert was redshirted his first season with Oklahoma, but figures to get ample playing time this season. He was a terror on the base paths for the Bombers last season, stealing a team-high 18 bases in 21 tries. He was fourth on the team with 19 runs scored and seemed to improve as the season progressed. At Allen High School in Allen, Oklahoma, he starred in football, track and baseball and was given the Jim Thorpe Award in 2006, which is given to Oklahoma’s best baseball player in any class. His senior season, he received All-State Honors after hitting an unheard of .535 with 32 stolen bases.

The 2009 season is approaching fast! Season tickets are now available for the 2009 season and can be found online at or by calling 979-779-PLAY.

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