Seward County Community College baseball players, Erik Hegstad, Kai Kirby and Bo Merrell signed official National Collegiate Athletic Association letterís of intent on Wednesday afternoon. The three sophomores and the Seward County baseball program held a press conference in the SCCC All-American Room to officially announce where they were going to continue their collegiate baseball careers. Hegstad (University of Northern Colorado), Kirby (Stephen F. Austin University) and Merrell (Texas State University) signed letters of intent to their respective NCAA Division I universities.


All three sophomores are returning starters from 2006. Hegstad (Greeley, Colo.) led the Saints during his freshman season in extra-base hits (31), doubles (23), games started (59), RBI (49) and in on-base plus slugging percentage (.997). The 6-foot-1-inch right fielderís 23 doubles places him second all-time in single-season doubles in Saints history.

Hegstad heads back to his hometown in Greeley, Colo., to play for the Bears program that just completed their third season back at the NCAA Division I level. UNC was among the NCAA Division I College Baseball elite when they appeared in 10 College Baseball World Seriesí (11th most all-time) in 1952, 1953, 1955, 1957, 1958, 1960, 1961, 1962 and 1974. In 2006, UNC posted a 21-30 overall record, playing among the toughest schedules in division I baseball against several national powers including Texas A&M, Creighton, Nebraska, Arkansas and Wichita State.

Kirby (Chickasha, Okla.) was the Saints starting centerfielder for 40 games during 2006. He was second in batting average (.388) and recorded 28 runs scored, nine doubles, one triple, 21 RBI and 18 walks-15 strikeouts last season. Kirby recorded 66 putouts and posted two outfield assists from centerfield last season.

Kirby will be the second Seward County player to sign at Stephen F. Austin University, following in the footsteps of former Saints shortstop, Jeff Brewer, a 2006 First Team Jayhawk West All-Conference selection, who signed with the Lumberjacks last summer. SFA revitalized their baseball program after dropping the sport in 1994-1995. In 2006, SFA completed their first season on the diamond with a 15-41 overall record, their first official season in the Southland Conference. In addition, Lumberjack assistant coach, Johnny Cardenas, played for Saints head coach Galen McSpadden at Seward County from 1988-1990.

Merrell (Perryton, Texas) played both third base and second base for the Saints in 2006. He finished the season as the Saints starting second baseman, and played in a total of 54 games. Merrell has been drafted twice (2005 & 2006) by the San Francisco Giants in the MLB First-Year Players Draft. He batted .309 (50-for-162) with 36 runs scored, eight doubles, four triples, two home runs and 30 RBI for the Saints last season. He led the team with 11-of-12 stolen bases and posted a .839 on-base plus slugging percentage.

Merrell joins at Texas State baseball program that finished in third place in the Southland Conference in 2006. Bobcats head coach, Ty Harrington, has guided Texas State to seven straight seasons winning at least 29 games and has led the Bobcats to seven consecutive Southland Conference Post-Season Tournamentís.