CORPUS CHRISTI – Coach Hughes and the Islanders softball coaching staff have announced the addition of six student-athletes to the 2013 recruiting class. Elizabeth Carter (Austin, Texas/Westlake HS), Brittney Morse (Richmond, Texas/George Ranch HS), Emma Stipe (Round Rock, Texas/Cedar Ridge HS), Mackinzee Griebel (Lockhart, Texas/Lockhart HS), Jessica Mendez (Corpus Christi, Texas/Moody HS) and Katie Blanar (Pearland, Texas/Pearland HS) are part of Coach Hughes' and her coaching staff's first recruiting class to be added to the Island University.
"I can't be more excited about our first recruiting class," Hughes said. "This group has the potential to help our program grow to a different level. These student-athletes could all compete for a big major Division I university but trusted our staff and the vision we put forth to come to the Island and help grow Islanders Softball into the future."
Carter, a 5-foot-10 right-handed pitcher, is a three-year letterwinner at Westlake High School under head coach Haley Gaddis. During her junior season she led the Chaparrals to a 22-5 record and tallied a 1.04 ERA while batting .443. Westlake went on to win the 15-5A District and finished with a school best 28-7 record. Carter earned First Team All-Centex, First Team TGCA All-State, Third Team TXSWA All-State and notched 15-5A District Co-MVP and Team MVP honors.
"Liz is a power pitcher that can hit," Hughes said. "She will have the ability to dominate a game in the circle. She is an outstanding athlete and will be a huge asset to our program for years to come."
As a sophomore, Carter led her team to a 17-6 record while registering a 2.81 ERA and .362 batting average. The Chaparrals finished with a 24-10 record and placed second at Districts. The Austin, Texas native also tacked on five home runs, en route to earning All-Centex Newcomer of the Year, First Team All District and was tabbed Team Offensive Player of the Year. She earned Academic All-District honors as a sophomore and junior.
"I think that the power she brings us at the plate and on the mound will add great depth to our team and pitching staff," Pitching Coach Sarah Pauly said.
Morse, a power hitter who will also showcase her skills behind the plate will help Pauly and her pitching staff. The Richmond, Texas native was born in Yuma, Ariz. and attends George Ranch High School in Richmond, Texas. She is a varsity letterwinner under head coach Donna Vrba.
As a freshman Morse earned First Team All-State and All-District honors, along with receiving the golden bat award following a school record seven home runs. Morse earned All-District honors as a junior along with being tabbed the Defensive Player of the Year after leading the Longhorns to a third-place finish at districts.
"I'm really excited about what Brittney will bring to us behind the plate," Hughes said. "She is a student of the game and has great sense about the game of softball. She brings another power bat into our lineup and will help bolster our pitching staff."
Stipe, a third baseman at Ridge High School in Round Rock, Texas, led the Raiders to a 28-9 record as a sophomore in their inaugural year. Last season, the team finished with a 17-13 record and placed third at districts. She was named the captain of the 2012-13 Raiders team.
As a sophomore, Stipe led the team with a .390 batting average and a .530 on-base percentage. She also tallied 53 assists and recorded a .900 fielding percentage at second and third base. Last season, Stipe, was second on her team with a .462 batting average and led the team with assists. She also registered a .546 on-base percentage and a .692 slugging percentage. Stipe earned MVP honors and was tabbed Second Team All-District and Academic All-District.
Stipe is in the top four percent of her class academically and earned academic honors for her 5.0 GPA during her sophomore and junior years.
"Emma is an all-around athlete that will contribute offensively and defensively," Hughes said. "She has a great work ethic in the classroom."
Griebel, a slapper, earned First Team All-District honors in the outfield last season at Lockhart High School under head coach Kathryn Snell.
"Mackinzee is a speedy outfielder with a great arm," Hughes said. "She is one of those athletes who isn't flashy, but she makes things happen. She reminds me a lot like former Islander standout Hannah Schwarz. She also brings it in the classroom."
Blanar, a left-handed pitcher, is a four-year letterwinner at Pearland High School under head coach Laneigh Clark. She led the Oilers' to a 37-7 record last season while advancing to the regional finals.
"I'm excited about Katie," Hughes said. "She's a left-handed pitcher with great movement. Katie brings a different aspect to our pitching staff. She's not a power pitcher but has great spin."
As a junior, Blanar was named the NFCA All-America Scholar Athlete after the Oilers powered their way to the state semifinals with an overall 33-8 record. As a freshman Blanar was a part of the Texas 5A State Championship team.
"I'm excited to have Katie join our pitching staff," Pauly said. "I feel that with her advanced pitching repertoire and natural talent that she will be a great asset to our team and staff."
Mendez, the Corpus Christi native, led the Trojans to a 21-2 record last season under head coach Paula Salinas. She registered a .516 batting average in 27 games while plating 42 runs on 48 hits, including 11 triples, four doubles and 10 home runs. She also chipped in 22 RBIs.
"Jessica is one of the top softball athletes in the Coastal Bend," Hughes said. "She brings athleticism and speed to the middle position of the field. It's always nice to keep top local athletes on the Island."
The Islanders finished with a 4-0-2 fall record after finishing the 2012 season with an 18-23 record. This season, the Islanders return nine letterwinners and will welcome four newcomers.
"I expect this 2013 class to help Islanders Softball contend for a conference championship each year," Hughes added. "Our staff worked really hard to bring in a quality recruiting class to propel us to be one of the top programs in Texas."
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-Carter has a twin brother named Jackson and Stipe is a triplet to brother Henry and sister Julia. She also has a younger sister named Annaclaire.
Elizabeth Carter (Pitcher):
"I signed with Corpus because I felt like it was the best fit for me. I couldn't ask for a more perfect coaching staff and location. The campus is beautiful and Corpus offered me a positive and bright future."
Brittney Morse (Catcher):
"It's a nice location…has a good academic program and softball."
Emma Stipe (Third Base):
"I loved the campus and the coaching staff! Plus, who wouldn't like to go to school on an island?!"