Fairfield, CT - Sacred Heart University softball co-head coaches Elizabeth Luckie and Pam London recently announced the signing of five players to national letters of intent for the 2012 season. The incoming class consists of Ariel Armendariz (Laveen, AZ/St. Mary's), Jessica Davenport (Southington, CT/Southington), Justine Sibthorp (Valencia, CA/ Valencia), Kaitlyn Nadler (Southbury, CT/Pomperaug), and Kacie Wentworth (Canton, NY/Hugh C. Williams).
Armendariz could make an immediate impact as a freshman by filling some of the gaps left by the current senior class. A lefty at the plate, Armendariz hit an impressive .501 during the 2009 season and followed that performance with a .468 mark in 2010 while also blasting seven homeruns. Aside from her strong presence at the plate, Armendariz also will bring solid defensive intangibles to the Pioneers. "Ariel will play a big role in replacing the offensive firepower we're losing. She's a true hitter with above-average power from the left side," commented London. "Ariel is a smooth defender with a vast knowledge of the game that will platoon between catcher and first base."
Adding to the strength of the recruiting class is a local talent in Davenport. The incoming pitcher amassed a career high school record of 21-2 with 137 strikeouts in 161 innings pitched. Davenport was named the 2010 New Britain Female Athlete of the Year, establishing her dominance in the high school softball ranks in Connecticut. With the graduation of standout senior pitcher Jen Russell (Seymour, CT), Davenport will compete for a starting spot in the rotation alongside current sophomore pitcher Nicole Sidor (West Vancouver, BC). "Jess, is a home grown Connecticut kid and is one of the exciting young arms coming on board," stated London.
Wentworth will also enter the program with the potential to bolster depth of the Pioneer pitching staff. A first-team all-league selection each year during her high school career, Wentworth blends impressive pitching skills along with a solid offensive repertoire. During her junior season she struck out 216 batters in just 137 innings of work, while issuing just seven free passes. Even more impressive are the 20 consecutive shutouts Wentworth strung together to finish the season with a 20-1 record. "Kacie is another young arm we are extremely eager to bring onboard. She has a great future and will look to make the rotation as a starter."
Nadler, a speedy leadoff hitter, also joins the Pioneers from the Connecticut ranks. She was the starting varsity shortstop all four years or her high school career and earned an all-state selection in the 2009 and 2010 seasons. In 2010, Nadler hit at a .437 clip and recorded a fielding percentage of .919. "Kate is an all around solid player. She is a versatile defender and her speed can be a dangerous weapon for us."
SHU adds another infielder up the middle in the right-handed Sibthorp. Sibthrop has big game experience as a member of the 2010 California State Championship team. She also arrives at Sacred Heart from the same high school as current junior shortstop Alyssa Garza (Valencia, CA). Sibthorp comes from a highly talented softball region and plays on the competitive and well respected SoCal Choopers travel squad. "Justine will be an asset for us on both sides of the ball. She will solidify our infield defensively and add some consistency at the plate," said London.
The Pioneers will take to the field for the start of the 2011 campaign with six seniors on the roster. The first pitch of the SHU season will be March 4 against Northern Illinois as the Pioneers compete in a tournament hosted by Colorado State.