The Texas A&M - Corpus Christi softball program received a big influx of talent this past week when it saw eight players sign a National Letter of Intent (NLI) during the fall signing period.
Head coach Jake Schumann's class is made up of four infielders, two utility players, one catcher/outfielder and a pitcher/outfielder.
Krystal Garcia is from Peoria, Ariz. and plays at Centennial High School. She is an infielder that was named first team all-region and second team All-State as a junior after setting the school's single-season triples mark with seven on the year while adding three home runs, 33 RBI, a .449 batting average and a .798 slugging percentage. She helped her team to a 2010 state championship and a 33-5 overall record last season.
"Krystal is a big sign for us in that she had some really good opportunities to play out West, but chose to come to the Island," said Schumann. "She is a versatile shortstop that can catch and play second base.
"She plays for one of the top summer programs in the country in the California Cruisers, and will definitely be ready to step in and play immediately after playing a year against California's best teams."
Bethany Slick is a pitcher/outfielder from Menifee where she plays at Heritage High School. As a pitcher, Slick finished 11-3 as a sophomore and 14-0 as a junior and will go into her senior season looking to finish her high school career strong. As a junior, she had 238 strikeouts and helped her team to a league championship and was named first team all-league.
"Bethany is a late find for us and a diamond in the rough," said Schumann. "She, like Garcia plays for one of the top summer teams in California in the Case Batbusters.
"Bethany has the kind of 'stuff' that has the potential to take over the Southland, as long as she continues to grow as a pitcher. Not only is she a dominate pitcher in California, she can also swing the bat and will have an opportunity to be a complete player for her four years on the Island."
Mickayla Heller is a catcher/outfielder at Sunrise Mountain High School in Peoria, Ariz. who led her team with nine home runs, 57 runs scored and 12 stolen bases as a junior. She was named first team all-region following both her sophomore and junior seasons. She was part of the teams that won back-to-back state championships in 2008 and 2009 while finishing as the state runner-up following her junior year.
"Mickayla, in my opinion, is one of the best overall players I have seen in the last couple years," said Schumann. "She is a triple threat offensively and she is an outstanding catcher with a strong arm.
"Her athleticism will enable us to move her to the outfield if we need to. She comes from a strong Arizona Hotshots team and Sunrise Mountain in Phoenix, both programs that are notorious for winning. She brings outstanding softball ability and a winning background to our program."
Karissa Haleman is a utility player that also attends Sunrise Mountain High School in Peoria, Ariz. and is a teammate of Heller. She primarily played third base for the Mustangs and, as a junior, scored 47 runs, totaled 56 hits, drew 10 walks and was second on the team with eight home runs. She drove in 64 runs and finished the year with a .549 batting average and a 1.049 slugging percentage. As a junior she was named First Team All-State and has been part of two state championship teams in addition to one state runner-up team.
"Karissa is another player from the strong Sunrise Mountain program," said Schumann. "She is a 'hard hat' type player that will out work anyone to be a champion and to have personal success.
"She has worked hard to be an Arizona All-State player and will bring that hard hat with her to campus. Karissa is an outstanding third baseman with a lot of pop in her bat for her size and I look for her to compete for the starting job as a freshman."
Katelyn Potts is the fifth signee for Schumann, a player from Mansfield Legacy High School who plays first base, third base and outfield. Potts was the District 8-4A offensive MVP following her sophomore year and was named First Team All-District 8-4A and honorable mention all-area by the Dallas Morning News after her junior year. She was a part of the team that won a district and area championship and advanced to the regional finals last year. During her sophomore season, she set new team records for home runs (8) and RBI (42) in helping her team to a district championship.
"We are very fortunate to have Katelyn, she was heavily recruited out of her summer team, the Rapid Fire Gold," said Schumann. "Katelyn has a huge bat and we will look to have her hit somewhere in the middle of our lineup. Like all of our recruits this year, Katelyn is very versatile in that she can play the corners as well as right field."
Local product Julia Sanford is the next signee for the Islanders. Sanford is a shortstop from Kingsville and currently attends H.M. King High School where she has been a three-year player for the Brahma's. She won the Newcomer of the Year award her freshman year and has been named first team all-district the past two seasons. Sanford received recognition as an All-South Texas player her sophomore year and was named All-State at shortstop following her junior season. She hit .506 with a .513 on-base percentage and a .818 slugging percentage while scoring 22 runs and driving in 17 on the year.
"Julia is the best softball player in the Corpus Christi area," said Schumann. "She has a great glove and the ability to hit at this level.
"She will compete for a job up the middle for us next year while her hands and bat will be an asset to our program for the next few years."
Cassie Carroll signs with the team out of Dripping Spring High School where she has been a three-year player for the Tigers, helping lead them to a district championship each season. She was named first team all-district the past two seasons while garnering district Defensive Player of the Year after her sophomore campaign. She hit for a .429 average as a sophomore and .360 as a junior while setting records for home runs in a season (5) and RBI in a game (8) when she hit two grand slams in a game.
"Cassie is a Margo Hurdt-type player in terms of her ability to swing the bat and her mentality to work extremely hard to be great," said Schumann. "I look for Cassie to make an impact on this team immediately, either with her bat or her ability to play the left side of the infield."
The final signee of the fall is Hayley Galloway, a shortstop from Angleton High School. Galloway helped her team to 32 wins in each of the last two seasons and hit .447 with a .485 on-base percentage, 54 runs scored, 30 stolen bases and 68 total hits as a junior. She has been named all-district and All-Brazoria County every season she has played for Angleton while also receiving the Brazoria County Newcomer of the Year award as a freshman.
Hayley is another signing that has won her whole career," said Schumann. "She comes from a strong Cy-Fair Intruders summer ball team and a 4A powerhouse at Angleton High School.
"In signing Hayley, we look for her to replace senior and Angleton grad, Lauren Sanders in our offensive scheme. She posses a lot of speed and has the ability to control the bat head from the left side. Her athleticism will allow us to play her up the middle as well as in the outfield from time to time."
The size of the class is directly attributable to both the improvement of the program and the attitude that the team has taken on from the coaching staff.
"This has been my largest recruiting class to date," said Schumann. "As you look at this class, you will see a lot of wins, a 'hard hat' type attitude and amazing versatility.
"The face of our program does not change; it just gets younger and more enthusiastic," said Schumann. "This whole class fits the 'Islanders' way of doing things and will look to compete for starting jobs right out of the gate next fall.
"This is a strong class of speed, offense, pitching and versatility defensively, and I look for them to be the most successful class in program history."