The success continues for the Polk State College baseball program, as five Eagles signed scholarships and another made a verbal commitment Wednesday in Winter Haven.
All-Suncoast Conference players Daniel Sweet (Mississippi) and Matt Pearce (Estero) inked scholarships as well as Cody DeNoyelles (West Orange), Casey Kulina (Pennsylvania) and Casey Schroeder (Ohio).
In addition, sophomore first baseman Hayden Kelly (Cirtus) verbally committed to Florida State University.
The signings raise the number of Polk players advancing to four-year universities to 36 for head coach Al Corbeil in three years.
"I'm really excited for all six of these guys," Corbeil said. "They got a lot of exposure this fall. They worked hard to get where they are and I'm looking forward to coaching them in the spring and watching them move on."
The scholarship signing of three transfers with NCAA Division I programs after just the fall season at Polk shows the strength of the program under Corbeil, Collin Martin and Brad Cook.
The Polk coaching trio is quietly building a growing jewel of talented players that scouts, other coaches and people around the country have noticed.
Left-handed pitcher Kulina was at Penn State when a local coach from an NCAA Division III institution told him about Polk. It just so happened Kulina was looking for a smaller college experience.
"He thought Polk would be a good fit," said Kulina. "I like it a lot."
Schroeder, 20, played at the University of Kentucky, but was not happy there.
Although he did not sign a contract with the St. Louis Cardinals after he was drafted in the 22nd round in the 2012 June draft, a St. Louis scout suggested Schroeder try Polk.
"I heard a lot about the success of the program," Schroeder said.
The situation was much the same for first baseman Hayden Kelly.
He was unhappy at Pensacola State. He started asking around about other programs as well.
"I knew Polk was a real good program," he said. "I heard a lot of good words about the coaches, and they win."
Corbeil is taking notice.
"I think one of the things is that, across the board people in baseball circles know that junior college baseball in Florida is talented and competitive. And kids want to come to Florida and get in front of our four-year college scouts and pro scouts. I feel like we've done a great job moving guys on. Part of it is the success on the field and the kids have done a good job where they've moved on to. Through that we've been able to develop relationships with other schools. Plus, you get a guy from one area and we are able to back to that well again."
Corbeil also pointed to the academic success of his players.
"Our guys have done well in the classroom, with well over a 3.0 GPA," he said. "It puts together a nice package with athletic and academic scholarships. That's a big thing for them."
Kulina, 20, is headed to Jacksonville University after a strong fall on the mound with Polk.
The lefty wanted to stay in the South. Both his father and uncle played at Jacksonville University.
The son of Kim and Ken Kulina of Hummelstown, Pa., was a reliever and closer with Penn State. But he wanted to attend a smaller institution.
At Lower Dauphin High School, Kulina was the conference MVP and a member of the Harrisburg Big 11 first team. He also was his high school's quarterback and a four-year starting point guard with the basketball team.
Schroeder, 20, is a catcher from Lima, Ohio, who in part chose Polk to hone his skills under Corbeil.
Corbeil also transitioned from infielder to catcher in high school to better his chances to get drafted.
"He's an extremely talented athlete with a great work ethic and skill set," Corbeil said of Schroeder. "He progressed this fall. He will be good behind the plate."
"I love it here," Schroeder said. "It's tough. They are hard on us, but it makes us stronger."
Catching was the primary position for the athletic Schroeder, but he played shortstop for Ottawa-Glandorf High School to bolster the squad. He eventually became a two-time All-State player with Ottawa-Glandorf.
He worked behind the plate with the Midland Redskins travel club in Ohio.
Catching runs in his family.
His father, Brad, caught in the Atlanta Braves' minor league system.
After a productive fall with Polk, Schroeder signed with NCAA Division I Coastal Carolina University (South Carolina) over the University of Central Florida and Tampa.
"It was a good fit," Schroeder said of Coastal Carolina. "They need a catcher. I can relate to the coach."
He plans to major in biology to pursue a career in pharmacy.
Kelly, 19, agreed verbally to play for his long-time favorite team, Florida State University.
The first baseman from Inverness also considered Palm Beach Atlantic, Presbyterian and Georgia College and State University.
However, there was no real decision.
Both of his parents, sister, brother and grandparents attended FSU.
"I'm real excited," he said.
He joined Polk in the fall from Pensacola State where he hit .308.
Kelly was a Citrus High School three-time All-County first team member and senior captain.
Sweet, 19, was sold on the Dallas Baptist University program for its playoff success, coaches and playing time.
"They said, 'We want you to be one of our guys,'" Sweet said. "They are a big program. I wanted to be part of a team that consistently goes to the playoffs and I just loved the coaches."
In addition, Sweet said the Patriots' program was similar to the one at Polk.
"I'm used to the system," said Sweet.
The baseball program at Dallas Baptist is the only sport at the university that plays at the NCAA Division I level.
Sweet also entertained offers from Florida State, University of Tampa and Lynn University.
The speedy outfielder led the Eagles in hitting (.309), runs (39), hits (55), stolen bases (30), walks (29), and triples (5).
He also hit for the cycle during the 2013 season.
Sweet was drafted out of high school by the Cincinnati Reds in the 23rd round of the 2012 MLB June draft.
Sweet, the son of Kimberly and Dennis, will major in journalism.
Pearce, 19, is a right-handed starting pitcher who posted a 6-1 record in 2013 with a 1.65 ERA over 81 innings.
In his last three games with Polk, he was 3-0 with a 17-inning scoreless streak. In two of the three games, he fanned 10 batters.
He signed with the NCAA Division II University of Tampa as soon as the Spartans made an offer.
"It was the place I wanted to go," he said. "They have a good reputation, a nice campus and facilities.
In recent years Eagles Brett Jones, Chase Sparkman and Michael Danner signed with the Spartans.
Pearce was an All-County first team member with Estero High School where he posted a 9-2 record as a senior.
The son of Lisa and Rob Pearce will major in sports management.
DeNoyelles, 20, was a Suncoast Conference second team infielder who also signed with the University of Tampa.
He received offers from Florida Southern College, Lynn University and Elon.
He hit .278 for the Eagles with 28 RBI in 49 games, primarily at second base.
The son of Tracy and Rick DeNoyelles and played at West Orange High School.
He is undecided about his major.