FGCU Softball Signs Eight New Players
FORT MYERS, Fla. – The Florida Gulf Coast University softball team officially announced the signing of eight transfer players to its 2005-06 recruiting class. Three pitchers, three infielders and two outfielders will join six incoming freshman for fall workouts.
"We have to replace four players who have been vital to our success, including two all-Region players and one all-American" said head coach Dave Deiros, who has guided the Eagles to three consecutive 30-win seasons, including a 38-18 mark last spring. "We were able to improve our depth at all positions, especially in the pitcher's circle. Injuries, playing doubleheaders each game day, and the length of the season exposed the difference in quality between our starters and our backups and role players. The two biggest strengths in our recruiting class are pitching depth and team speed."
Junior Sarah Backe (Flossmoor, Ill./Indian River CC), junior Amanda Deen (Jacksonville, Fla./Coastal Georgia CC) and sophomore Rachel Edinger (Lakeland, Fla./Polk CC) will add valuable experience to the competition to replace all-Region pitcher Kelly Powe in the circle this spring. A hard-throwing right-hander, Backe was 4-1 with a 1.53 ERA a year ago. Deen garnered all-state honors after going 19-11 with two saves and 242 strikeouts in 220 innings last spring while Edinger was first-team all conference with an 18-12 mark and 1.11 ERA with 193 strikeouts in 208 innings.
The Eagles must also replace their top two base stealers from a year ago, including Ashley Cecil, who led all NCAA Division II players with 66 steals in 2004. Deiros feels the Eagles may be quicker this spring and improve on the nearly three stolen bases per game his teams have averaged the past three years.
Junior outfielder Rachel Holman (Vero Beach, Fla./Indian River CC) is a speedster who hit .321, scored 41 runs and stole 31 bases in 33 attempts, which was second in the Florida Junior College Athletic Association. Junior Sherri Rabenold (Jacksonville, Fla. /Seminole CC) was the 2004 FJCAA Player of the Year and followed up with first team all-FJCAA honors in 2005 after hitting .459 with 23 doubles, six triples and 20 RBI. She also led the FJCAA with 55 steals in 65 attempts and is adept defensively at both centerfield and first base.
Red-shirt freshman Rachel Holloway (Bokeelia, Fla. /South Florida CC) missed last season with an injury but was a prep standout at Mariner High. Junior Cori Rascati (Gainesville, Fla. /Florida Community CC) hit .300 last season with nine doubles, one homer and 19 RBI and can play either first or third base. Junior Alyssa Van Gemert (Naples, Fla. /University of Florida) is returning to the field after a two-year absence but was an all-state shortstop at Barron Collier High.
The transfers will join freshmen outfielders Jennifer Brandon (Clearwater, Fla./Clearwater HS) and LeeAnne McDowell (Arcadia, Fla./DeSoto HS), infielders Paige Raulerson (LaBelle,Fla./LaBelle HS) and Brittney Lamb (West Palm Beach, Fla./Leonard HS) and pitchers Dana Frantz (Brighton, Mich./Mercy HS) and Melissa Geissler (Fort Myers, Fla./Bishop Verot HS) in this year's recruiting class.
Deiros also announced that four freshmen walk-ons have been added to the fall roster. Erin Decker (Brandon, Fla.), Danielle Denney (New Port Richey, Fla.), Rachel Morgani (Port Charlotte, Fla.) and Sammy Washburn (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.) will begin practice with the team this fall.
"We only have three returning starters and an entirely new pitching staff so we have to work very hard this fall to get our players incorporated into our system as quickly as possible", said Deiros. "Last year we played .500 softball in February and split two to three too many regional doubleheaders down the stretch. To make the NCAA tournament you have to play especially well together early in the season to set the tone for the entire year."
The Eagles open their fourth season in February.