Comprising this summer's crop of recruits are pitchers Carter Hahn and Cody Willingham, infielders Seth Spivey and Kyle Guisti, and outfielder Heath Beasley. Cameron Bonifant is listed as an infielder/outfielder, while Matt Patterson can catch or play infield.
Stover, an Abilene native who is at the start of his 11th season as a Wildcat coach, is excited about this year's signing class.
"We've added some quality kids to our program," he said, "and this class along with our returners should give us a great opportunity to get back where we expect to be in 2013."
Among the players expected to return to next season's team are second team all-region selection Chuck Durate, all-conference honoree Rodge Macy, and the LSC Freshman of the Year Tyler Eager. ACU also should have back most of its pitching staff, including starters Josh Stone, Jordon Herrera, Austin Palmer and Brady Rodriguez.
The Wildcats were Lone Star Conference champions as recently as 2010, but a pair of uncharacteristic campaigns in 2011 and 2012 prevented them from reaching their rightful place in the NCAA postseason. Last year's team finished 26-28 and just slipped into conference tournament's final spot, but ACU played well there and went on to eliminate higher seeds Incarnate Word and Texas A&M-Kingsville.
This year's class not only will bolster the team's pitching depth, but also addresses several needs around the horn as the Wildcats look to replace the glove of corner infielder and all-conference performer Duncan Blades.
Profiles for each ACU signee are listed below in alphabetical order.
OF Heath Beasley (McKinney, Texas/McKinney High School)
A 2012 first team all-district outfielder, Beasley helped lead McKinney High School to a 20-9 record behind a .391 batting average that earned him a second consecutive team MVP honor. In 2010 he was named the district's newcomer of the year.
"Heath is a solid player and will come in battling for playing time in the outfield," Stover said. "He can do a bunch of different things for the Wildcats and I look forward to seeing him play at ACU."
Beasley's success also extended to the classroom as the National Honor Society member received several academic all-state and district awards between his baseball and football seasons.
Beasley was a three-year letterman and all-district linebacker in football, and served as team captain throughout his junior and senior years.
INF/OF Cameron Bonifant (Keller, Texas/Keller HS)
Bonifant, a hard-hitting shortstop the last two seasons for Keller High School, earned the team's 2012 Slugger of the Year award after batting .349 and slugging .581. The team captain also blasted two home runs in a district game against Denton Guyer and was part of a team that won the 2011 Georgetown (Texas) Baseball Classic.
"Cameron may be undersized (5-foot-8), but plays big and is extremely tough," Stover said. "He can play multiple spots on the field, can really hit, and we expect him to battle for considerable playing time as a freshman."
Bonifant played with two clubs that reached the district playoffs, and earned a spot on the all-district first team at the conclusion of this past season.
INF Kyle Giusti (Santa Fe, Texas/Santa Fe HS/Galveston College)
Galveston College made the 2012 NJCAA Region 14 Tournament behind the all-star bat of Giusti, who hit .384 with 12 extra-base hits and 20 RBI. His efforts also were recognized at the conference and region levels, and the year prior as a freshman, he batted .333 and was successful on 13 of 14 stolen-base attempts.
"Kyle is a hard-nosed kid that should be a middle-of-the-order hitter for the Wildcats," Stover said. "He gives us a winning attitude and work ethic."
Prior to attending Galveston, Giusti was a three-year letterman and A/B Honor Roll student at Santa Fe High School where he batted over .400 during his final two seasons. Twice he was named first team all-district and county, and following his senior year, Giusti was tabbed first team All-Houston and was an all-state honorable mention.
RHP Carter Hahn (San Antonio, Texas/Reagan HS/Lamar University/Howard Junior College)
Hahn comes to Abilene with three years of collegiate pitching experience under his belt. The San Antonio native first pitched at Howard Junior College for two seasons and went a combined 14-1 with a 3.56 earned-run average, and then during his lone season at Lamar he posted a 3-3 record with 49 strikeouts in 65.0 innings pitched.
"Carter had success as a weekend starter at Lamar, as well as the two years before at Howard, and we believe that he will be one of the top guys in our conference," Stover said. "We are looking forward to seeing him pitch at the Crutch (Crutcher Scott Field)."
Hahn played high school ball at Reagan where he compiled an impressive four-year record of 28-1. He also made two all-district teams and was an all-region selection in 2009.
C/INF Matt Patterson (Farmers Branch, Texas/Newman Smith HS)
Patterson graduated with honors this spring from Newman Smith High School where his consistent bat and glove netted him three all-district awards. The Farmers Branch native made varsity in 2010 and was named all-district at third base after hitting .365 with three home runs. The following year he batted a career high .376 after moving to catcher, and then he returned to the infield this past season and batted .350.
"Matt is a hard-working player who was all-district at two different positions the last three years," Stover said. "He is a quality player and we think his versatility will give us options and depth for years to come."
A member of the National and Spanish Honor Society, Patterson is a recipient of his school's Principal's Commendation Award and winner of two Trojan Fighting Spirit awards. He plans to study law and political science at ACU.
INF Seth Spivey (Brenham, Texas/Brenham HS/Angelina College)
Spivey signed with the Wildcats in November and further improved his stock after batting .362 this spring with nine extra-base hits, 28 runs, and 24 RBI for Angelina (Texas) College en route to receiving his second Texas/New Mexico Junior College All-Star citation.
During his first year at Angelina, Spivey hit .253 and helped lead the Roadrunners to the NJCAA Region 14 Tournament.
"Seth had two great seasons at Angelina and is someone who plays the game the right way," Stover said. "He is a tough kid that swings from the left side, and we think he can step in and continue his junior college success at ACU."
Spivey made two all-district teams while at Brenham High School, and also received spots on the all-state, city and Brazos Valley teams.
LHP Cody Willingham (Ramona, Calif./Ramona HS/Palomar College)
A 2010 Louisville Slugger High School All-American, Willingham will join the Wildcats following a solid two-year stay at Palomar (Calif.) College where last year he went 2-3 with a 3.98 ERA and recorded 18 Ks through 20.1 innings pitched.
"Cody should be a really good pitcher for ACU," Stover said. "He finished his career strongly at Palomar and we expect that to carry over into next spring."
Willingham also enjoyed a decorated high school career at Ramona High School. In addition to earning All-America and All-CIF status as a senior, the southpaw twice was selected as the league's pitcher of the year and made two all-league first teams.
His senior year statistics included nine wins, a 2.13 ERA and 114 strikeouts, and as a junior, he went 8-3 with 87 punchouts.
Willingham was part of his high school's National Honor Society from 2008 to 2010, and while at ACU he plans to study criminal justice.