Aug. 25, 2015
NOTRE DAME, Ind. – The start of a new University of Notre Dame school year means a new crop of talented student-athletes have arrived under the Golden Dome from all over the world to join the Irish family. For Notre Dame baseball, 12 talented players did just that this past weekend.
A class that is ranked 30th nationally by Perfect Game features a pair of 2015 MLB Draftees (Jake Singer – Rockies & Matt Vierling – Cardinals), elite state and national talent as ranked by Perfect Game and state champions among other impressive high school accolades both on and off the diamond.
Eleven different states are represented with Massachusetts (Jack Connolly & Shane Combs) leading the way with two student-athletes, while California (Singer), Georgia (Connor Stutts), Indiana (Nick Podkul), Illinois (Cole Daily), Michigan (Eric Gilgenbach), Missouri (Vierling), New Jersey (Eric Feliz) New York (Liam Dalton IV), Tennessee (Collin Stoecker) and Wisconsin (Connor Hock) each boast one new addition.
Six rookies can step on the mound, one sets up behind the plate at catcher, five are infielders and four roam the outfield.
“Every year I try to reserve judgment on the class until they get here and start playing,” said Aoki. “What you do in high school gets you to Notre Dame, but ultimately having success at Notre Dame is based on what you do here and not what you have accomplished in the past. Our staff is excited to begin working with them very soon.”
Since arriving on campus in 2011, Aoki has consistently developed players into true student-athletes that graduate from under the Golden Dome, have a chance at professional baseball and are active in leadership programs and community service.
“It takes a special type of student and athlete to come to Notre Dame and we think we found 12 great fits that can help our program while they are on campus.”
Coming off their first NCAA Regional appearance since 2006, Notre Dame returns 21 monogram winners from a squad that finished the year 37-23 (17-13 ACC). Expected back are pitchers that tossed 549.0 of a possible 554.2 innings in 2015. In addition, senior David Hearne and junior Jim Orwick, who have combined to throw 56.2 innings in their career, are back after missing 2015 with injuries.
On offense, the entire infield – including catcher Ryan Lidge – returns. The Irish will look to replace the entire outfield, which lost seniors Ryan Bull, Mac Hudgins and Robert Youngdahl to graduation.
For more information on Notre Dame baseball, follow the Irish on Facebook (/NDBaseball), Twitter (@NDBaseball) and Instagram (notredamebaseball).
CLASS OF 2019
#55 Shane Combs
6-2 / 210
Right / Right
St. John’s High School
HIGH SCHOOL & PERSONAL: Graduated from St. John’s High School in May 2015 … earned two letters in baseball and two in football … ranked the second-best RHP and the fifth-best overall player in Massachusetts by Perfect Game … received high honorable mention Perfect Game Preseason Senior High School All-America honors and first team Perfect Game Preseason Northeast Region All High School Senior accolades prior to the start of senior year … went 1-1 with a save and 34 strikeouts over 18.0 innings pitched before senior campaign ended following a leg injury … earned the Gary McNulty Memorial Award for the school’s best multi-sport athlete … tallied high honorable mention Perfect Game Preseason High School Underclassmen All-America honors prior to junior campaign … went 4-1 with a 1.36 ERA and 60 strikeouts in 36.0 innings of work as a junior … hurled two no-hitters and was an ESPN Boston all-state selection … was a standout running back for the St. John’s football team … ran for 1,514 yards and 18 touchdowns on 209 carries as a senior … added 265 yards passing … named an all-star by the Worcester Telegram and the Central Massachusetts Conference … also received ESPN Boston all-state accolades and the conference’s MVP award … tallied 1,243 yards and 16 touchdowns on 163 carries as a junior … named an all-star by the Worcester Telegram and the Central Massachusetts Conference for the first of two times … off the field participated in the National Honor Society and volunteered in the BeLikeBrit organization in Port au Prince, Haiti … named to the St. John’s academic honor roll and earned an AP Scholar with Honor … Shane Arthur Hamilton Combs was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania … son of Arthur Combs … has an older sister, Sienna, and a younger sister, Cinthia … sister, Sienna (2015 – women’s rugby), father, Arthur (1972 – baseball), and uncle, David (1980 – men’s soccer) all graduated from Notre Dame and competed in athletics … enrolled in First Year of Studies.
#17 Jack Connolly
6-0 / 195
Right / Right
Bridgewater-Raynham Regional H.S.
HIGH SCHOOL & PERSONAL: Graduated from Bridgewater-Raynham Regional High School in June 2015 … earned four letters in baseball and two in basketball … ranked by Perfect Game as the fifth-best RHP in Massachusetts and the ninth-best player in the state overall … finished career with a 21-5 record and 1.56 ERA while tallying 217 strikeouts … earned high honorable mention honors on Perfect Game’s High School Senior Preseason All-America team and a spot on the first team of the Northeast Region All High School Senior squad by the same organization before going 6-1 with a 0.91 ERA as a senior … earned ESPN Boston all-state honors in addition to receiving Old Colony League MVP accolades … named all-scholastic by the Brockton Enterprise and the Boston Herald … went 7-2 with a 1.11 ERA with 72 strikeouts in 58 innings pitched as a junior … earned ESPN Boston all-state accolades in addition to all-scholastic honors from the Brockton Enterprise and Boston Herald … tallied a 7-2 record with a 2.33 ERA in helping lead his squad to the D1 state championship as a sophomore … Jack William Connolly was born in Crystal Lake, Illinois to Michael and Jackie Connolly … has an older sister, Kayla Kane, and an older brother, Michael Connolly Jr. … father, Michael Connolly Sr., was drafted out of high school in the 30th round of the 1982 MLB Draft by the Cleveland Indians … brother, Michael Connolly Jr., played baseball at Maine and was drafted in the 27th round of the 2013 MLB Draft by the San Francisco Giants … as of August 2015, Connolly played with the Salem-Keizer Volcanoes of the Northwest League (Class A Short Season) … enrolled in First Year of Studies.
#6 Cole Daily
6-0 / 180
Left / Right
Springfield Sacred Heart-Griffin
HIGH SCHOOL & PERSONAL: Graduated from Springfield Sacred Heart-Griffin in May 2015 … earned four letters in baseball … tabbed the second-best shortstop in Illinois and the 38th-best nationally by Perfect Game … also named the 10th-best player overall in Illinois and the 292nd-best nationally by the organization … tabbed as a high honorable mention Perfect Game Preseason Senior All-American in 2015 … earned first team Perfect Game all-Central Region, first team all-conference and first team all-state honors after batting .451 with two home runs and 45 stolen bases as a senior … selected as a second team preseason underclassmen All-American by Perfect Game prior to beginning of junior year … backed up accolades by helping squad to a runner-up finish in the state tournament … team also took home conference, regional, sectional and super-sectional titles … batted .395 to earn first team all-conference and all-state accolades … team won a conference championship as a sophomore and regional and sectional titles as a freshman … volunteered with the Boys and Girls Club and Habitat for Humanity … Cole Patrick Daily was born in Springfield, Illinois to Jeff Daily and Dawn Reyhan … has a younger brother, Jack, and two younger sisters, Caroline and Claire … enrolled in First Year of Studies.
#13 Liam Dalton IV
6-1 / 185
Right / Right
Bedford, New York
Rye Country Day School
HIGH SCHOOL AND PERSONAL: Graduated from Rye Country Day School in June 2015 … earned four letters in baseball … tabbed the fifth-best catcher in New York and the 37th-best player overall by Perfect Game … named an honorable mention Perfect Game Preseason Northeast Region All High School Senior before final campaign … batted .342 with a .456 on-base percentage as a senior … behind the dish had a perfect 1.000 fielding percentage and threw out 13 of 15 runners for an 86% caught stealing percentage … was a team captain and garnered first team all-Fairchester Athletic Association honors in addition to honorable mention LoHud (The Journal News) All-Star accolades … hit .309 with a .442 OBP, seven doubles and 19 RBI while starting all 24 games on the year … threw out runners at a 55% clip … played club baseball with the Westchester Lightning … was tabbed as captain of the 17u Prospect Team … participated as a coach and teacher at the Children’s Aid Society Milbank Center in Harlem, New York in free time … Liam Francis Terrence Dalton IV was born in New York, New York to Liam III and Meghan Douglas-Dalton … has an older sister, Kelley, and two younger brothers, Lander and Cade … enrolled in First Year of Studies.
#19 Eric Feliz
6-0 / 195
Right / Right
Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey
IMG Academy (Bradenton, FL)
HIGH SCHOOL & PERSONAL: Graduated from IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida in June 2015 … earned two letters in baseball … ranked the No. 1 outfielder in New Jersey and the No. 3 player overall by Perfect Game … tabbed as the No. 49 outfielder in the country and the No. 243 player overall by the same organization … named a Perfect Game first team Preseason Northeast Region All High School Senior before batting .354 with 23 hits, two homers and four doubles during final high school season … selected to the all-tournament team at the 2015 Perfect Game High School Showdown … tabbed a first team Perfect Game Preseason High School Underclassmen All-American prior to junior campaign before hitting .294 with 20 hits, six doubles and two triples … selected as an honorable mention Perfect Game Preseason High School Underclassmen All-American prior to sophomore season … had three homers and a .438 average as a sophomore and 20 hits and a .447 average as a freshman … played for the Florida Surge and Atlanta Blue Jays club teams … named to the 2014 WWBA 18U and the Perfect Game 18U BCS all-tournament teams … participated in the National Honor Society … Eric Antonio Feliz was born in New York, New York to Melvin and Keila Feliz … has a younger brother, Michael … enrolled in First Year of Studies.
#15 Eric Gilgenbach
Outfield / 3B
6-2 / 195
Right / Right
Rochester Hills, Michigan
HIGH SCHOOL & PERSONAL: Graduated from Stoney Creek High School in June 2015 … earned four letters in baseball and basketball … ranked the No. 1 third baseman and the No. 7 player overall in Michigan by Perfect Game … tabbed as the 36th-ranked third baseman nationally according to the same publication … earned high honorable mention Preseason Senior High School All-America accolades from Perfect Game prior to the start of senior season … also earned honorable mention Preseason Central Region All High School Senior honors from the same publication … tabbed preseason first team all-state before turning in a slash line of .400/.568/.633 with 36 hits, 10 doubles, three homers, 27 walks and 25 runs scored in 32 games played as a senior … on the mound posted a 7-3 record with a 2.23 ERA and 60 strikeouts in 59.2 innings of work … tabbed all-league, all-district and all-region … earned academic all-district accolades for his work in the classroom … monster junior season included an impressive .471/.603/.683 split with 49 hits, three triples, three homers, 29 RBI and 27 runs scored in 36 games played … turned in a 3.07 ERA and struck out 40 batters in 45.0 innings of work on the bump … helped team win the last of three consecutive district titles while picking up all-league, all-district, all-region and all-conference honors in addition to second team all-state accolades … also tabbed academic all-district and academic all-region … set school single-season records for average, OBP and consecutive games with a hit (20) … hit .300 with 30 hits, four homers and 30 RBI in 35 games played as a sophomore to earn all-league honors … team won another district title … had outstanding rookie year, posting a split of .419/.566/.730 with 31 hits and five homers in 32 games played … helped team to a district title while earning all-league and academic all-district accolades … set school single-season record for the first time in on-base percentage … participated in National Honor Society, Stoney Creek Mentor Program and Stoney Creek Student Advisory Board … was a two-time Award of Excellence winner and tallied a Scholar of Highest Distinction award in 2015 … Eric James Gilgenbach was born in Rochester Hills, Michigan to Karl and Kristin Gilgenbach … has a younger sister, Maya … cousins, Eddie (Saint Xavier – basketball), Steven (Arkansas-Little Rock – baseball) & Beth Ann (Cardinal Stritch – basketball) all played college sports … enrolled in First Year of Studies.
#30 Connor Hock
6-3 / 200
Right / Right
HIGH SCHOOL & PERSONAL: Graduated from Bay Port High School in June 2015 … earned four letters in baseball … finished career with a 19-1 record and a 0.77 ERA in 136.1 IP … struck out 184 and walked 50 … ranked the No. 3 RHP in Wisconsin and the No. 5 player overall by Perfect Game … tabbed a high honorable mention Perfect Game Preseason Senior High School All-American before senior season got underway … also selected to the honorable mention Central Region All High School Senior squad … captained team to a 19-1 record and conference, region and sectional titles as a senior … finished 10-1 with a 0.58 ERA over 66.2 IP … struck out 99 and walked 24 … selected to the Region 5 ABCA/Rawlings all-region team for efforts … other honors included first team all-conference, all-district and all-state, conference and district player of the year … claimed honorable mention Perfect Game Preseason High School Underclassmen All-America honors prior to junior campaign … finished 6-0 with a 0.79 ERA in 54.1 IP … struck out 70 and walked 18 in leading squad to a 16-4 record and conference, regional and sectional championships for the second consecutive year … claimed first team all-conference and second team all-area honors … also received honorable mention all-district accolades … didn’t allow a run (0.00 ERA) while going 3-0 in 15.1 innings of work as a sophomore … helped team go undefeated in conference (16-0) before claiming region and section crowns … squad went on to place third at the state tournament … played club baseball for Baseball Northwest … enrolled in full International Baccalaureate (IB) classes … earned a spot on the high honor roll throughout high school career … participated in the National Honor Society and was involved in the Youth Service League (YSL), volunteering over 250 hours towards community service … Connor Benjamin Hock was born in Fairfax, Virginia to Ben and Tammy Hock … has a younger brother, Josh, and a younger sister, Emma … enrolled in First Year of Studies.
#7 Nick Podkul
6-2 / 185
Right / Right
HIGH SCHOOL & PERSONAL: Graduated from Andrean High School in June 2015 … earned three letters in both baseball and basketball … named the second-best shortstop in Indiana and the 22nd-best player overall by Perfect Game … helped Andrean win back-to-back Indiana Class 3A state championships as a junior and senior … team also won three conference championships in a row (SO – SR years) … tabbed a preseason Louisville Slugger All-American and a honorable mention all-Central Region performer before senior year … earned first team all-conference honors … batted .411 as a junior, receiving first team all-conference and first team all-area honors … batted .417 as a sophomore to claim honorable mention all-state accolades … helped team win a sectional championship during second campaign … on the basketball court, earned first team all-conference honors as a junior and senior in helping Andrean win sectional titles both years … tabbed second team all-area as a junior after averaging 12 points, seven rebounds, three assists and three steals per game … basketball team also won a sectional title during sophomore year in addition to a regional championship … earned academic all-state honors in addition to receiving a spot on the Andrean academic honor roll throughout high school career … Nicholas Joseph Podkul was born in Munster, Indiana to Frank Podkul Sr. and Jackie Weiser … has an older brother, Frank Jr. … father, Frank Sr., played baseball and football at Wabash College … brother, Frank Jr., plays baseball at Franklin College and will be a sophomore in 2016 … enrolled in First Year of Studies.
#10 Jake Singer
5-11 / 175
Right / Right
San Diego, California
HIGH SCHOOL & PERSONAL: Graduated from Torrey Pines High School in June 2015 … earned three letters in baseball … drafted in the 38th round (1,127th overall pick) of the 2015 MLB Draft by the Colorado Rockies … ranked the 16th-best third baseman and the 272nd-best player overall in California by Perfect Game … named an honorable mention Perfect Game Preseason California Region All-High School Senior before final campaign got underway … batted .291 with an on-base percentage of .415 during senior season … had three homers, 23 RBI, 25 hits and 13 runs scored … tabbed honorable mention all-Palomar League in helping team to a Palomar League title … totaled 25 hits, 13 RBI, three homers and 16 runs scored while batting .278 with an OBP of .415 as a junior … played club baseball with the Solana Beach Cardinals … helped club team earn finalist honors in the 2013 USA Premier Firecracker Classic and the 2013 Under Armour So Cal Classic … volunteered with Pro Kids and the Pulmonary Transplant Foundation … earned Principals Honor Court honors (3.7+ GPA) and received a Golden State Seal Merit Diploma … Jacob Thomas Singer was born in San Diego, California to Andy and Carolyn Singer … has a young brother, Cole … enrolled in First Year of Studies.
#33 Collin Stoecker
6-5 / 225
Left / Left
HIGH SCHOOL & PERSONAL: Graduated from Siegel High School in May 2015 … earned four letters in baseball … ranked the fourth-best LHP in Tennessee and the 31st-best player overall by Perfect Game … tabbed the 116th-best LHP nationally by the same organization … earned honorable mention Southeast Region All High School Senior honors from Perfect Game prior to final campaign … earned all-district accolades after going 2-2 with a 2.42 ERA and 53 strikeouts in 34.2 innings of work … made six appearances and boasted a 1.03 WHIP … awarded honorable mention Perfect Game Preseason High School Underclassmen All-America honors prior to junior year … earned all-district honors for the second time as a junior after going 4-3 in 10 appearances (59.1 IP) … boasted a 2.14 ERA with 51 strikeouts … received all-district accolades for the first time as a sophomore … earned The Daily News Journal Pitcher of the Year honors for his high school in each of his last three seasons … played travel baseball for the East Cobb Astros … tallied a no-hitter and a combined no-hitter in back-to-back club starts in 2014 … finished with a 66-4 record in travel baseball … named to the 2013 Perfect Game / Rawlings Top Prospect Team at the South East Showcase … off the field volunteered with Project Help Special Needs Day Care and at the VA Hospital … participated in Boys State in 2014 … named the Business Student of the Year for his high school as a senior … participated as a Youth Leadership Rutherford Representative for his high school as a junior … Patrick Collin Stoecker was born in Lebanon, Tennessee to Patrick and Kim Stoecker … has a younger sister, Kara, and a younger brother, Ethan … father, Patrick, played baseball at Memphis … enrolled in First Year of Studies.
#25 Connor Stutts
Outfield / Infield / RHP
6-1 / 190
Switch / Right
The Westminster Schools
HIGH SCHOOL & PERSONAL: Graduated from The Westminster Schools (Atlanta) in May 2015 … earned four letters in baseball … ranked the 38th-best outfielder and the 188th-best player overall in Georgia by Perfect Game … received honorable mention Perfect Game Preseason Southeast Region All High School Senior accolades prior to the start of senior season … proceeded to bat .392 with four homers in earning first team all-region accolades … hit .370 with two homers in earning first team all-region honors as a junior after receiving honorable mention Perfect Game Preseason High School Underclassmen All-America honors prior to the start of the season … had breakout sophomore campaign by batting .380 with a homer to receive first team all-region accolades for the first time … played travel baseball for 643 DP … off the field, participated in L.E.A.D.S., which teaches Atlanta inner city middle schoolers baseball … earned the Nick Napolitano “No greater love” award … played high school baseball with current Irish teammate Jake Johnson (Class of 2018) … Connor Adler Stutts was born in Berkeley, California to Clyde and Suzy Stutts … has an older sister, Haley … uncle, Tom Collins, played football at Purdue … enrolled in First Year of Studies.
#24 Matt Vierling
Outfield / RHP
6-3 / 195
Right / Right
St. Louis, Missouri
Christian Brothers College H.S.
HIGH SCHOOL AND PERSONAL: Graduated from Christian Brothers College High School in May 2015 … drafted by the St. Louis Cardinals in the 30th round (911th pick overall) of the 2015 MLB Draft … earned four letters in baseball and one each in football and basketball as a freshman … ranked the 163rd-best draft prospect by Baseball America and the 229th-best by Perfect Game … touted as the No. 1 high school player in Missouri by Prep Baseball Report … ranked as the second-best outfielder in addition to the second-best overall player in Missouri by Perfect Game … picked as the 30th-best outfielder in the country and the 134th-best player nationally according to the same publication … tabbed a first team Perfect Game Preseason Central Region All High School Senior and a third team Perfect Game High School Senior Preseason All-American … backed up honors with a monster senior season, batting .451 with 60 hits, three homers and 32 RBI while going a perfect 8-0 and tallying a 2.07 ERA and 56 strikeouts in 44.0 innings of work on the bump in helping his high school program to the Class 5A state championship … played shortstop while brother, Mark, played second base … numerous accolades included Metro Catholic Conference Player of the Year, first team all-MCC honors, first team all-state (OF/RHP), Prep Baseball Report Missouri Player of the Year, USA Today Missouri Player of the Year and ABCA/Rawlings all-region 5 accolades … chosen as a first team Perfect Game Preseason High School Underclassmen All-American before hitting .430 with 46 hits, five homers and 34 RBI while producing a 4-1 record with a 1.69 ERA and 26 strikeouts in 29.0 innings of work on the mound as a junior … earned first team all-MCC accolades … selected as an honorable mention Perfect Game Preseason High School Underclassmen All-American before batting .309 with 29 hits, two homers and 13 RBI and tallying a perfect 6-0 record with a 2.65 ERA and 31 strikeouts in 37.0 innings on the mound as a sophomore … earned second team all-MCC honors in helping squad to the Class 5A state championship game … received honorable mention all-MCC accolades after batting .284 with 21 hits as a freshman … played travel baseball with the St. Louis Gamers … helped travel team to a No. 9 ranking by Perfect Game during the summer of 2013 … volunteered with the Little Bit Foundation for St. Louis Inner City Public Schools … Matthew Gregory Vierling was born in St. Louis, Missouri to Dan and Susan Vierling … has a younger brother, Mark … uncle, Steve Vierling, graduated from Notre Dame in 1982 … father, Dan, played football at the University of Kansas … enrolled in First Year of Studies.
–Russell Dorn, Athletics Communications Assistant Director