There comes a time in every game when a team needs that little extra something to win a game. Some players look deep inside themselves to summon that extra effort, while others look skyward for a little divine intervention.
This summer, the East Texas Pump Jacks may just turn to the Pope.
Well, not exactly the Pope, but Kyle Pope, the star outfielder at East Texas Baptist University who was signed today by the Pump Jacks. The Longview native will be a familiar sight to East Texas fans, who have watched him graduate from Spring Hill High School to the ETBU campus in Marshall.
Pope recently completed his junior season with the Tigers, in which he batted .386 with 37 runs scored and 26 RBI. The fleet-footed lefty led ETBU in batting, runs, at-bats (171), hits (66), doubles (13), triples (4), total bases (99), and stolen bases (8). Pope also ranked among the conference’s top twenty in batting average, and among the top ten in both hits and triples.
Pope debuted with ETBU as a sophomore in 2008, when he also batted .386, with 41 runs scored and 14 stolen bases. Even in his first year in the program, Pope was the Tigers’ hitting star, leading the team in batting, runs, stolen bases, at-bats (153), hits (59), doubles (15), and on-base percentage (.447). He also finished among the league’s top twenty hitters and in the top ten in doubles.
Pope’s performances have not gone unrecognized. Last week, the American Southwest Conference named him to the All-East Division First Team, a year after he was a member of the division’s second team. As a sophomore, he was also recognized as the ASC East Division Newcomer of the Year. He has also been named to the conference’s All-Academic team two consecutive years.
It should come as no surprise that Pope’s prep career was equally successful. He was named all-state and district offensive MVP as a senior at Spring Hill, when he also participated in the Texas High School Coaches Association All-Star Game. Pope was named all-district four times and All-East Texas his final three seasons with the Panthers.
While most college ballplayers spend the fall participating in workouts with their baseball teammates, Pope has been excused from such activities since his days at Spring Hill, and for good reason. The two-sport star has been a standout as a place kicker in football, earning recognition as the ASC pre-season Special Teams Player of the Year prior to the 2008 campaign. Pope was named to the D3Football.com “Team of the Week” in Week 2 of the 2007 season when he set a school record and tied an ASC mark by kicking four field goals in a game against Ouachita Baptist. This achievement helped him nab an honorable mention on the ASC’s 2007 all-conference team.
In high school, Pope was an all-district kicker, punter, and receiver, and he earned All-East Texas honors as a punter.
The Pump Jacks’ pontifical addition bumps the number of East Texas players introduced for the coming season to 22. Pope joins San Jacinto hurler David Rollins; Panola Ponies Matt Juengel and Cam Sokalski; Kyle Frasard from Texas Wesleyan; Greg Fontenot and Patrick Holloway of Louisiana-Lafayette; Stephen Tromblee from Centenary; the Artichokes’ T.J. Geith, Brett Nicholas, Ryan Oesterle, and Mike Petello; Joey Castleman, Daniel Gonzalez, Justin Howard, and Ben Woodchick from New Mexico; Rice pitchers Abel Gonzales, Mark Haynes, and Matt Reckling; Maryland’s A.J. Casario and Ian Schwalenberg; and returning hurler Chad Sherman out of Texas A&M.
Free Season Tickets: That’s right, free! With players this season coming to East Texas from across the country, the team is actively searching for host families. Host families enjoy the opportunity to have a potential future major leaguer live with them, forging a bond that lasts a lifetime. As an added bonus, host families receive FREE season tickets for everyone in their household. Click here or contact the Pump Jacks for more information.
The 2009 season is scheduled to begin on Friday, June 5, when the Pump Jacks host the league’s newest team, the Victoria Generals. The 48-game regular season will run through August 8, to be followed by the playoffs and TCL Championship Series. Fans can download a copy of the team’s schedule by clicking here.
Season tickets are currently on sale, with ticket packages starting as low as $105 – and $85 for children and seniors – for all 24 regular season home games. Box seat season tickets are also available, including Lower Box seats, which feature in-your-seat wait service all game long, every game. For more information on Pump Jacks season tickets, click here or contact the Jacks office at (903) 218-GO ET.