Two Carlisle Bison baseball players are taking their games to the collegiate level.
Pitcher Josh Mathis and middle infielder Tyler Young both signed with Ecclesia College of Springdale during a ceremony at Bison Arena on Friday morning. Ecclesia is a member of the National Christian College Athletic Association.
Mathis will be a three-year starter, having transferred to Carlisle prior to the 2012 season. Young became a full-time starter a year ago. The Bison finished the 2012 season as Class 2A state runners-up, losing to the Woodlawn Bears in the state title game.
Ecclesia coach Derrion Hardie said he’s excited about Mathis and Young joining his program, which will play its second season this spring.
"Josh has a lot of big-game experience, a couple of years ago as a sophomore, pitching in the state championship game," Hardie said. "That type of experience adds a lot to your program."
Hardie said he was "really excited" about Young.
"Tyler flew under our radar even though we knew about him," he said. "He came in for his workout and we had him in the batting cage … we were really impressed with his skill set.
"Anytime you can add a lefty into your rotation like Josh, it’s going to be a huge asset. We’re just excited about what they are going to bring to our program."
Hardie said the two Bison players will be going into the program knowing each other as well as two players from Lonoke — Guy Halbert and Shane Pepper.
"I really think it’s going to be a great situation for them too," he said.
Mathis said he received a phone call from Ecclesia. He said that Halbert and Pepper had told the school about him.
"I was for sure wanting to play college ball," Mathis said. "I just wasn’t sure where. I was looking at a couple of small schools around here.
"They [Ecclesia] offered me the best deal. I just couldn’t turn it down."
Young said he attended a college fair at the beginning of the school year and he got Hardie’s contact information and called him.
"Last week, we went up there and tried out," Young said. "They really seemed to like what they saw in me."
Young said he’s wanted to play college baseball since he was a "little kid."
"It’s been a dream of mine," he said. "I’m very excited."
Hardie said Young and Mathis in a great position.
"There a lot of kids who would love to be in these two guys’ shoes and being able to continue their playing career," he said.
Heber Springs baseball coach B.J. Greene, who coached Mathis for one season and Young for two seasons, is proud of his former players getting the opportunity to play at the collegiate level.
"I think it’s awesome for two great kids," Greene said. "They both really love and enjoy playing baseball.
"When I had them, Josh was a one-year starter for me. Tyler was always a backup. Talking to Coach [William] Rountree, we always knew Tyler was going to be a good player. He has a good mind for the game. I can’t say enough about the two kids. It’s awesome opportunity for them and I hope they get up there and enjoy it."