FGCU Softball Signs Eight to NLI's
Friday, November 20, 2009
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FORT MYERS, Fla. - FGCU softball head coach David Deiros has announced that eight players have signed National Letters of Intent to attend FGCU next fall and play for the 2011 Eagle softball team. Seven will be incoming freshman in the fall of 2010 while the eighth will be a red-shirt sophomore with three years of eligibility remaining along with her AA degree from junior college.

The signees are IF/OF Jessica Barnes from Haines City, Fla., IF/OF Kirsten Bembnowski from Palm Harbor, Fla., 1B Kayla Gabel from Lakeland, Fla., SS Brittney Garabedian from Miami, Fla., pitcher Amanda Josie from Estero, Fla., IF Regan Knapik from Land O’Lakes, Fla., C/IF Emily Lanier from St. Cloud, Fla., and IF/OF Victoria “Tori” Williams from Dunnellon Fla.

"This is a very versatile set of players on both sides of the ball,” said Deiros. “Most of this recruiting class can play multiple positions at the elite level. In addition, most of them run well enough to be a threat on the basepaths and are powerful enough to hit for extra bases. This group will get a full year under their belts in 2010-11 and gain the experience needed to make us very competitive when we are tournament eligible in 2012."

Barnes is a three-sport start at Haines City High School. In 2009, she participated in the state tournament in tennis, was the 2009 Class 4A District Player of the Year in volleyball, and was third team All-State in softball. Barnes also played on state champion and top-10 national finisher Orlando No Fear travel ball team coached by John Bailey.

"Jessica is a five-tool player--she runs very well, hits for power and average, and can play any defensive position on the field,” said Deiros. “She has only scratched the surface of what she is truly capable of doing on the softball field."

Bembnowski is a two-time First Team All-Pinellas County and Second Team All-County selection. As a junior at East Lake HS, she was named to the Class 5A All-State First Team. Most recently, Bembnowski was one of the leading hitters for the Tampa Mustangs, who were the 2009 ASA National Champions at the 18 and under level, coached by Walt Rozanski.

“Kirsten can play any infield and outfield position because of her range and quickness,” said Deiros. “She can be a table-setter because she can hit for average and has good speed or she can be a run producer because she can hit for power.”

Gabel, a transfer from State College of Florida (formerly Manatee Community College), redshirted her freshman year because of a broken bone in her foot that she suffered in the sixth inning of the season opener against Santa Fe CC (2/7/09). She will graduate with honors with her AA degree in the spring and will seek a degree in Business at FGCU. Gabel was a two-time Team Offensive MVP, First Team All-Polk County, and Third Team Class 5A All-State selection at George Jenkins HS.

"Kayla is a very strong hitter with home run power to all fields,” said Deiros. “She moves very well and has good hands to handle all throws at first base. We are very pleased that we will get an exemplary student-athlete who has had the benefit of two years of experience at junior college and still has three years of eligibility with us."

Garabedian, who plays ball at Gulliver Prep School, is a three-time All Miami-Dade County First Team selection and also a two-time All-State selection. She currently has a 3.9 GPA and is a member of the National Honor Society.

"Brittney is a talented softball player and natural leader,” said Nichols. “She is a slick fielding shortshop who can hit to all fields. Her tireless work ethic and intelligence will make her a joy to coach."

Josie was a 2009 First Team All-Area pitcher at Estero High School while compiling a 0.93 earned run average with 81 strikeouts in 75 innings. She played for Tropic Wave travel ball team coached by Mike Morgan.

"Amanda has demonstrated that she is a fantastic student in the classroom and on the field,” said Deiros. “She will graduate early from FGCU because of the number of dual enrollment classes she has taken over the past year. She has also improved the command and effectiveness of each of her pitches (and added to her arsenal) through hard work and study over the past year."

Knapik was also a member of the 2009 ASA National Championship team, Tampa Mustangs. She is a three-sport letter winner in three sports (volleyball, basketball, and softball) at Wiregrass Ranch High School. Knapik is a three-time SAC All-Conference and All-Pasco County performer as well as the Wesley Chapel Chamber of Commerce "Female Athlete of the Year" in 2007.

"Regan is a defensive wizard in the middle infield,” said Deiros. “She can make all the plays and throws requisite of a top-notch 2B or SS."

Lanier is a three-year letterwinner at Harmony High School and stalwart catcher for the Orlando No Fear coached by John Bailey and Team FLA coached by John Rogers. She is a three-time All-Orange Belt Conference, Two-time All-Central Florida, and two-time All-State performer. She hit over .600 last season and was named 2009 Osceola County Player of the Year.

"Emily is a vocal leader on the field and in the bullpen,” said Deiros. She does a great job directing the defensive action and handling the pitching staff. She will be a very good run producer for us in the middle of the lineup."

Williams’ .590 batting average, 41 runs scored, and 34 stolen bases last season for Class 4A state champion Dunnellon earned her 1st team All-State honors. She was a key offensive weapon for her travel team, Team North Florida coached by Coy Adkins, helping them earn a 5th place finish in the prestigious ASA Gold National Championship this past summer.

“Tori's energy, attitude, and work ethic are infectious,” said Deiros. “She will be a great table-setter at the top of our lineup because she handles the bat and runs so well. She is extremely versatile and can play any position on the field at a high level."

The Eagles open the 2009 season in Tampa, Fla. on Feb. 6 when they participate in the USF Best Western Tournament.