Four Midlothian Heritage seniors signed national letters of intent with respective colleges and universities Tuesday inside the competition gymnasium.
Jasmine Bailey was the lone female student-athlete and basketball player to sign an NLI and, as soon as her pen hit the signature line, she became the first-ever Jaguar from the girls’ basketball program to sign a collegiate letter of intent.
Three Jaguars baseball players — Cody Moore, Creed Spenrath and Caisen Clower — also signed NLIs just days before they begin a hopefully-deep 4A playoff run.
TARLETON STATE UNIVERSITY
Bailey will head to Stephenville to join the always-talented Tarleton State University Texans basketball program in the fall.
The All-Ellis County girls’ basketball Player of the Year finalist said she is excited to join the program.
“It was the first four-year school offer that I got,” Bailey said. “I went visit there and everything was great — like nothing was wrong with it. It was perfect.”
As a junior, Bailey averaged 12.6 points and 4.6 steals per game on her way being recognized as the District 8-4A Offensive Player of the Year, TABC All-Region and TGCA All-State, as well as to the TGCA All-Star team.
Heritage head girls’ basketball coach Jason Hodges even got to coach against her in the 2018 TGCA All-Star game and “let her win.”
Following her senior season, Bailey was named the District 17-4A MVP, as well as to the TABC All-Region, All-Ellis County first-team player-of-the-year finalist. She was also named to two All-State teams after she averaged 11.3 points, 3.1 rebounds, 2.2 assists and 3.6 steals per game.
Hodges said Bailey has helped fill the trophy cases over her past two seasons full time on the varsity, which included the Jaguars trip to the regional tournament this season.
“But Jas does a lot of things for our school that aren’t on the court, as well,” Hodges said. He noted she is a member of the National Honor Society, student council, Presidents Club, the Ready, Set, Teach Program and is a two-year team captain.
“Obviously I was a little biased when the purple and white came after her,” added Hodges, who also attended Tarleton State. “They are getting a great kid off of the court and a tremendous athlete on the court. We are going to miss her here at Heritage but I know these girls here who have been her teammate for the last two-and-a-half years are going to take care of business so that when Jasmine comes back to visit she will see more banners on the wall and more gold balls in the trophy case.”
In a Tarleton State Athletics announcement, head girls’ basketball coach Misty Wilson said she was “very excited about the addition” of Bailey.
"Jasmine is a player that extends a great deal of energy on both sides of the ball,” Wilson stated in the release. “She loves to defend and she has the speed and quickness to make the game very difficult on opponents. She has the ability to score and create for her teammates, as well. Jasmine is a competitor and will do whatever necessary to help her team experience success.
Wilson added, "Off the court, Jasmine is the epitome of a student-athlete. She is a part of the National Honor Society and has maintained a GPA that keeps her among the top in her class. I look forward to coaching Jasmine and helping her achieve her goals on and off the floor."
EAST TEXAS BAPTIST
Creed Spenrath is headed to East Texas Baptist University in Marshall to continue his baseball career.
“I’m really excited and I’m just glad that I was given the opportunity to plant the next level,” Spenrath said. “The opportunity to play baseball in college not have to stop in high school, I’m pretty excited about it.”
Spenrath said he ultimately chose ETBU because he very much respects the morals and values of the university, noting that the school being a Christian university was “very important.”
“I also really loved the coaches and they were great to me,” Spenrath added. “The campus is really nice in the baseball facilities are really new and really awesome. I really enjoyed that.”
Spenrath has helped the Jaguars to a 21-5 record this season, picking up four wins to one loss on the mound. He has recorded a team-best 50 strikeouts to 18 walks and allowed just 13 runs (7 earned) over 33.0 innings of work for a sparkling 1.46 ERA.
Heritage head baseball coach Justin Blackwell said Spenrath is the kind of person on and off the field that he hopes his son grows up to emulate, and even one that he’d let a daughter date.
“I love Creed and I couldn’t be more happy for the kid,” Blackwell added. The head coach also said Spenrath, who set the school record with 13 strikeouts in a game on March 8 against China Spring, is the kind of big-game pitcher that any program would be comfortable handing the ball too.
Spenrath said he will easily miss the teammates and coaches he has had while at Midlothian Heritage and “the camaraderie that we have had over the last four years.
“I have loved every second of it,” he continued. “All of the little things, like being in the locker room and hanging out together as a team. I’ll cherish every bit of it.”
MURRAY STATE COLLEGE
Cody Moore will continue his baseball career at Murray State College in Tishomingo, Oklahoma.
Moore had to battle through an injury to reach the point of signing an NLI, even at one time thinking he’d never have the opportunity.
“I am very excited to sign,” Moore said. “ I got hurt for a year so I wasn’t for sure if there would be a chance to play ever again, so I’m really excited I get to play at the next level and hopefully stay healthy.“
Moore said he choose the school because “it’s in a small town on a small campus and I really feel like that fits me the best so I don’t have to worry about stress or anything. It’s also really close to home.”
Moore currently boasts a .354 batting average and .440 on-base percentage with 28 hits and nine walks over 77 at-bats (95 plate appearances). He has 10 doubles, four home runs and 21 RBIs.
His four dingers are tied with Roc Martinez and Cade Sumbler.
Blackwell said he has enjoyed watching Moore grow up, which began while the coach was at Midlothian High coaching his older brother.
“As far as putting the bat on the ball, he’s one of the best I’ve ever coached,” said Blackwell of Moore, who has struck out just six times in 91 plate appearances. “And for our team, for him to man that four-hole for our team like he has for a couple of years, that’s huge. He is an all-around great player to not just a big hitter. Defense of Lee has also been an outstanding asset to our team.“
Caisen Clower inked his national letter of intent with Richland College on Tuesday in front of teammates, friends and family.
“I am pretty excited that I get to continue my baseball career,” Clower said. “A couple of months ago I thought it was going to end after this season but I thank the coaches for giving me an opportunity to play and compete at the next level.”
Clower currently carries a .416 batting average and .495 on-base percentage with 32 hits and 14 walks over 77 at-bats (95 plate appearances). He has nine doubles, three triples with 13 RBIs and a team-best 30 runs scored.
Clower said he chose Richland College because “it’s close to home and it was rated as one of the best in academics as far as junior colleges and had one of the best campuses in Texas as far as junior colleges.”
He added, “I’ll miss the coaches, obviously, and my friends that I’ve had the opportunity to play with since I was a freshman. Playing with them for four years is something that I’m really going to miss.”
Of Clower, Blackwell jokingly said, “He just has that neck makes me almost want to pull my hair out and then getting a big-time hit.”
“He has probably been our most consistent baseball player the last two years,” Blackwell continued. “He is incredibly consistent and that is saying something because we have some kids that can flat play.“
Fred Phipps/Mirror contributed to this report.