July 31, 2008
NACOGDOCHES, Texas - New Lumberjack head coach Johnny Cardenas has announced the signing of Justin McAninch from Nacogdoches High School, continuing a growing trend by the 'Jacks of bringing in local talent.
SFA has already signed former Lufkin Hudson standout Tanner Hines and recent Lufkin High School graduate Marty Anderson for the 2009 season. The signing of McAninch, gives the 'Jacks three local products in this year's signing class. Former Lufkin High School pitcher Jeremy Tamez also is on the roster after a solid freshman season.
"I think East Texas is a great place to get players and quality players at that," Cardenas said. "Over the last couple of years we have missed out on some kids that have gone other places, but we want them to know that if they are a (NCAA) Division I-quality player, we want them staying around here.
We want to be able to go after those kids from not only the Nacogdoches area, but also the Lufkin area, because our program feels that those kids are a great representation of what SFA is as a university."
McAninch hit .395 in his four-year career at NHS, leading the Dragons to a 23-8 record, the District 12-4A championship and the area round of the playoffs as a senior. He hit .412 with 39 RBI and was recognized as a second-team all-state selection by the Texas High School Baseball Association. He was also recognized as an honorable mention all-state selection at third base by the Texas Sportswriters Association in 2008.
"We look for Justin to play either at third or first, or quite possibly in the outfield," Cardenas said. "He will give us a very strong right-handed bat in our lineup since he has hit every place he's been."
The four-year letterman earned first-team all-district each of his final three years as a Dragon -twice as a third baseman and once as a pitcher- and was named the district newcomer of the Year as a freshman in 2005.
McAninch's talents, however, were not confined to the diamond as he was also a standout on the football field and in the classroom. A four-time academic all-district selection in baseball, he finished 13th out of 382 graduates at NHS this past spring. That was after he was named first-team all-district quarterback for District 12-4A in 2006 and 2007, and earning 2005 district newcomer of the year.
"Whenever SFA signed coach Cardenas as head coach I got really excited about that," McAninch said in an interview with local TV station KTRE. "I really like those coaches and what they were doing. At that point I said okay I can stay home and play division one baseball in my hometown."