Austin Stephens, a senior left-handed pitcher for the Rams, has signed a national letter of intent to pitch for the Grand Rapids Community College (GRCC) Raiders baseball team next year. Stephens accepted the scholarship offer from GRCC head coach Mike Cupples after a long and difficult evaluation process. Stephens had received scholarship offers from several NAIA schools including Aquinas, Davenport, Huntington, Spring Arbor, Indiana Wesleyan, University of Northwestern Ohio and Division II Northwood University. Being such a “late-bloomer,” Stephens felt that going to GRCC at this point would allow him to continue to get stronger and possibly lead to a Division I scholarship offer in a year or two. “I really appreciate all the interest and generous offers by all the baseball coaches, but I think GRCC is the right fit for me at this point in my life,” said Stephens. Stephens has been an important part of the Ram pitching staff for the last couple of seasons. “It’s been great playing for Coach Hearn and being a Ram. If you can compete in the tough OK Red conference, you can compete at a lot of places,” said Stephens. “I’m looking forward to the opportunity to be an important part of the Raider pitching staff and improve even more. GRCC has won five national baseball titles. They have a great tradition and I hope to help them continue that tradition.” Stephens will join fellow Ram, Christian Leinesch, who also accepted a scholarship offer to play for GRCC. Austin is the son of Mark and Wendy Stephens.
The men’s distance medley relay record has stood at Aquinas College since 1972. The quartet of Jerry Gumbleton, Mike Sweeney, Wayne Steanich and Ryan Sexton had the record of 10:16.34. Fast forward 39 years to Saturday, Feb. 12, when the foursome of (pictured l–r) Grant Gunneson of Rockford, B.J. Klotz of Forest Hills Eastern, Nick Thelen of Grand Ledge and Dustin Heiler of Fowlerville eclipsed the record by 11 seconds at a meet at Grand Valley State University. The new record now stands at 10:05.95 and currently is the third fastest time in the NAIA.