FORT MYERS, Fla. - FGCU softball head coach David Deiros announced that four players have signed National Letters of Intent to attend FGCU next fall and play for the 2010 Eagle softball team, which finished last season with a 48-16 record and tied for a share of the Atlantic Sun regular season championship.
The signees are 1B/OF Mariah Fernandez from Cape Coral, Fla., infielder Erin Olson from Naples, Fla., pitcher Stephanie Sullivan from Venice, Fla., and shortstop Tiffani Upchurch from Lake Wales, Fla.
“Our primary recruiting philosophy has always been to take care of the players in our backyard first—the players growing up in FGCU’s service area,” said Deiros. “I believe we have gotten three of our area’s finest graduates to commit to continue their educations and playing careers for their hometown team. In addition, our entire infield, along with a three- year starting pitcher and catcher, graduate in 2009, which meant we needed to replace them with solid players who could be counted on to compete right away at a high level. I believe we have addressed most of those openings with these four players.”
Fernandez is a three sport athlete at North Fort Myers High School—softball, soccer, and volleyball. She is a three-year starter and two-time All-Area performer and has a .369 career batting average, a career .491 on-base percentage, and a .605 slugging percentage. She is also a member of the National Honor Society and is a “Superior GPA” honor roll student with a 4.34 GPA.
“Mariah is very versatile and athletic,” said Deiros. “She can play any position on the field even though she is left-handed. We really appreciate her intelligence and enthusiasm on and off the field—her teammates will enjoy playing alongside her.”
Olson is a two-sport athlete and team captain at Barron Collier High School. She is a two-time All-Collier County and All-Area shortstop for the Lady Cougars in softball and All-Conference in cross country.
“Erin is very strong and athletic,” said Deiros. “She can hit for power and average and is a high level performer at all infield positions. She will compete right away for a starting position at second or third base for us.”
Sullivan is a three-year starter for the Lady Indians. She had an amazing 2008 season where she led Venice to an undefeated regular season and the State Runner-up finish. Sullivan finished the 2008 season with Sarasota Herald Tribune Player of the Year honors, First Team All-State honors, Dairy Farmers FHSAA Class 5A Player of the Year honors, EA Sports Second Team All-American honors, a 23-1 record, an ERA of 0.37, 279 strikeouts in 160 innings, and a .360 batting average.
“Stephanie dominated her competition last season as she led her high school team to unprecedented heights and she was really one inning short of a state championship,” said Deiros. “She throws very hard and has great command over her pitches. I think she will have an even better season this year as she continues to get stronger.”
Upchurch is a three-year starter at Lake Wales High School, which won the Class 4A State Championship in 2007. She has earned All-County and All-State honors each of her three seasons while compiling a career .400 batting average and .970 fielding percentage. She was a member of the Junior League World Series Champion team in 2005.
“Tiffani’s cousin, Josh, has been a difference maker for FGCU’s baseball team and I expect Tiffani to do the same for our team,” said Deiros. “She is a very good hitter and defender and she will only improve in both facets as she gets taller and stronger.”
The Eagles open the 2009 season in Tampa, Fla. on Feb. 6 when they participate in the USF Best Western Tournament.