Softball signs six players for the 2008 season

Nov. 17, 2006

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - It has been a whirlwind year for Amanda Lehotak as she was promoted from JU softball's top assistant to head coach over the summer and now she has signed the first set of recruits in her Dolphin tenure.

On Thursday, the JU coaching staff announced the signing of six student-athletes for the 2008 season, including local product Katie Kelly (Callahan, Fla.). Also wearing a Dolphin uniform next season will be Aubrie Carmack (Florence, S.C.), Shannon Monahan (Warner Robins, Ga.), Kayla Ouellet (Orlando, Fla.), Jessica Abraham (Hialeah, Fla.) and Kat Engler (Naples, Fla.).

"Overall, I am ecstatic about this recruiting class," said Lehotak, who was promoted to head coach on June 30. "With the current team and these newcomers, JU softball is on the right track to be fight for a conference title."

Kelly, currently a senior at West Nassau High School, has led the Warriors to three consecutive state Final Four berths as the team's starting shortstop. She earned second team all-state and team MVP honors as a junior after batting .453 with 48 hits, while driving in 20 runs. Kelly also tied the school home run record with five round trippers.

"Katie has one of the most consistent and powerful bats I have seen in a while," Lehotak said. "Defensively, she is extremely solid because she makes hard plays look routine and easy.

Carmack has helped Florence Christian High School win back-to-back state titles on the softball diamond. She received South Carolina Independent School Athletic Association, Sports Report and regional "Player of the Year" honors as a junior. Carmack has also spent two seasons on the Eagles' basketball team.

"Aubrie brings another strong bat to the line-up," said Lehotak. "Aubrie was recruited as my all around athlete and can play any position. She will fight for starting spot at the corners, but more importantly, I want her to be the back up at every position."

Monahan is a sophomore shortstop at Santa Fe Community College in Gainesville, Fla. As a freshman, she batted .425 with 22 doubles and 50 RBI en route to Mid-Florida "Player of the Year" accolades. She was also named first team all-conference and first team all-FCCAA after helping Santa Fe finish fourth in the state.

"Shannon brings maturity to the infield," Lehotak commented. "She is a junior college transfer who already understands the intensity and level of this game. Shannon is just an all around athlete. She makes everything look easy with tremendous range, a strong arm, while also hitting for power."

Ouellet, currently a senior at Boone High School, has helped her team win three consecutive district championships and secure two Elite Eight playoff berths. In 2006, she recorded a .457 batting average with eight steals and four doubles. As a sophomore, she received third team all-metro honors by recording eight steals and 22 hits.

"Kayla is another athlete that can just flat out fly," said Lehotak. "Kayla is a tremendous athlete, who can do it all at the plate and her speed makes her very dangerous on the bases. Her ability to read the ball off the bat combined with her speed makes her a great outfielder."

Abraham is a three-year starter at American Senior High School under head coach Arthur Simon. Last season, she was named Offensive "Player of Year" and led the Patriots to a district championship after batting .666 with five homeruns. She ranked fifth in Class 6A in batting (.545) as a catcher in her sophomore season.

"Jessica has a great presence on the field as a catcher," Lehotak said. "She knows how to call the game, run the defense, and most importantly, how to handle the pitchers. Jessica also has a strong arm and a powerful bat."

Engler, a senior at Barron Collier High School, received first team all-area honors as a junior after leading the Cougars with a .373 batting average, while logging 22 runs and 13 stolen bases. She has also lettered for the volleyball and soccer teams.

"Kat brings much needed speed to our line-up," said Lehotak. "Her speed in the outfield and her ability to read the ball off the bat provides much needed depth to the outfield. Kat provides a different look offensively as well because of her ability to hit, bunt and slap from the left side."

The Dolphins open the 2007 season on Feb. 9 against Minnesota at the JU Softball Complex. First pitch is slated for 5 p.m.