Piedra Vista’s Kody Russell (left) and Matt Martin (right) pose for a picture with head coach Mike McGaha (center) at Piedra Vista High School on
Piedra Vista's Kody Russell (left) and Matt Martin (right) pose for a picture with head coach Mike McGaha (center) at Piedra Vista High School on Monday. (Courtesy of Piedra Vista athletics)

FARMINGTON  Piedra Vista's Matt Martin and Kody Russell will see their baseball careers extend beyond their senior seasons.

Martin and Russell signed letters of intent to play for New Mexico Junior College in Hobbs.

"Both of those guys were in our first eighth-grade class when I got the job, and they are probably the most prepared mentally of any of the kids we've ever sent on (to college)," Piedra Vista head coach Mike McGaha said.

Martin will play middle infield for NMJC, and Russell will be in the outfield as a center fielder.

Both players are ready to take the next step in their baseball careers and are glad their hard work has paid off. Martin and Russell will each receive a full-tuition scholarship from NMJC.

"It's going to awesome. We've work our butts off all through high school," Martin said. "We were working for a scholarship and are excited to play for the Thunderbirds."

NMJC adds a solid contact hitter and defensive infielder in Martin while Russell is a power hitter with a strong arm in centerfield.

Hobbs has been a popular destination for PV baseball players. The Thunderbirds currently have two former Panthers, Jacy Cave and Kholeton Sanchez, on their roster. Other recent players such as Damion Lovato, Dillon Bibo and Morgan McCasland have played for NMJC.

The chance to continue their careers together, as well as join their former teammate Cave, who is in his freshman season, made the decision an easy one for Martin and Russell.

"It's cool knowing people that are already down there," Russell said.

NMJC has enjoyed success under head coach Joshua Simpson, finishing last season with a 44-14 record.

"New Mexico Junior College is ranked perennially in the top 10 or 20 in the country," McGaha said. "It's been an opportunity for guys to go there and prolong their careers."

The PV coach has built a culture within the program where all of his players are looking to continue their playing into college.

"Every year we expect to sign all of our seniors. I think the guys in the program are starting to see that it's a snowball effect," McGaha said. "These guys have been positive leaders. I only have three or four seniors (this year) and Matt and Kody have been the cream of the crop."

Joshua Perry can be reached at jperry@daily-times.com; 505-564-4577. Follow him on Twitter @jperrysuu.