Northwest baseball trio signs with four-year programs
Photo: From left, Northwest pitchers Brooks Rice, Logan Eldridge and C.J. Lofton will continue their baseball careers at the four-year level after signing with their respective programs on Monday afternoon. (nwccrangers.com/Brian Lentz)
Credit: Northwest Sports Information
With the 2023 season now in the books, three Northwest pitchers took another step toward their next chapters on Monday, signing with three different four-year programs.
Brooks Rice signed his National Letter of Intent for Samford University, Logan Eldridge inked with Delta State University and C.J. Lofton signed to continue his athletic and academic career at Mississippi College. The trio joins fellow teammate and pitcher Brayden Sanders, who signed with the University of Memphis last fall.
“I am super proud of these guys,” Northwest coach Mark Carson said. “Our ultimate goal when we bring players in is to help them get better and develop them, so that they can continue their education and baseball careers at the four-year level. All three have developed extremely well since they have been here and they have been great students. We’re very fortunate to have them leave their thumbprint on this program and be able to move on to continue their careers.”
Originally a transfer from LSU, Rice molded into a consistent starter during his two-year stint at Northwest. The Madison native finished the 2023 season with a 4.69 earned run average and a 4-3 record, compiling 62 strikeouts. His career-defining performance came on March 7 against East Mississippi, where Rice threw 15 strikeouts in a 7-0 shutout win, earning MACCC Pitcher of the Week honors.
Rice made 12 appearances on the mound this season, all of them in a starting role. He also pitched two complete games, one against EMCC and in his final Northwest outing against Pearl River last Friday.
Rice will be the first Northwest baseball player to play at Samford. The Bulldogs are a member of the Southern Conference and currently hold a record of 24-20 overall.
Eldridge was another pitcher that grew into a starting role this season. After making 12 appearances as a freshman, mostly in relief, the Arlington, Tenn. native started 12 games on the mound this season, earning a 4-7 record with 60 strikeouts and a 5.02 ERA. One of his best outings came in the season-ending doubleheader, where he tossed 10 strikeouts against two walks in a gritty complete game win against No. 3 Pearl River.
For his career, Eldridge leaves Northwest with 75 total strikeouts and a 5.58 earned run average. He joins a long pipeline of Northwest alumni to join Delta State, including former Ranger pitcher and current DSU player Hammer Franks. Currently, the Statesmen are 24-24 in the midst of Gulf South Conference competition.
Lofton made eight starts this season, tossing 33 strikeouts against and a 5.63 earned run average, finishing with a 5-2 record on the mound. The Strayhorn native and Magnolia Heights graduate made 16 appearances in 2022, all in relief, dishing out 23 strikeouts in 23.1 innings pitched.
Lofton’s career-best outing came earlier this year in a February 18 win against Illinois Central, where he struck out eight batters in five full innings of work. He also went the distance in a nine-inning win against South Arkansas on March 3, delivering five strikeouts.
Lofton will join a long list of former Rangers that have continued their careers at Mississippi College. The Choctaws also compete in the Gulf South Conference with Delta State.
Since taking over as the Northwest head coach in 2006, Carson has produce 137 four-year players, including 55 to Division I programs. Earlier this season, Carson attained his 500th career win as a head coach, joining Jim Miles (556) as the only other Ranger baseball head coach to earn 500 or more career victories.