Softball signs four players for the 2011 season

The JU softball team is continuing to strengthen its lineup after adding four players, including local product Brittany Eppley (P/1B, Florida State College of Jacksonville), for the 2011 season.

Along with Eppley, OF Miranda Fleming (Omaha, Neb.), C Karson Tuck (Walkersville, Md.) and UT Jacey Warner (DeLand, Fla.) are set to join the Dolphins next season.

“This is one of the most athletic recruiting classes we have ever brought in,” said JU head coach Amanda Lehotak. “We have never brought in such a versatile group. I expect these four to contribute right away to our success.”

Eppley, currently a sophomore at Florida State College of Jacksonville, helped the Stars to a state championship and a No. 5 national ranking in 2009. She led the team in RBI and ERA, while finishing second in home runs and third in batting average to receive all-conference honors.

During the fall, Eppley finished with three home runs against the Dolphins and tossed a one-hit complete game shutout in her second start against JU.

Eppley also played locally at Bishop Kenny High School where she competed in softball, volleyball and basketball. She led the Crusaders in home runs all four seasons and owns the school record for grand slams.

“After watching her hit three home runs off of us, I knew we had to have her,” said Lehotak. “She can just flat out hit the ball and she hits it hard. She will also contribute on the mound next year. Brittany will be our first true drop ball pitcher that we have had in a long time.”

Fleming, a senior at Millard West High School, has hit .385 at the plate in the last two seasons. As a senior, she helped the Wildcats win the district title and finish fifth in the state. Fleming also earned all-division honors for her efforts.

“Miranda is a natural hitter,” said Lehotak. “I look for her to add depth in the middle infield and compete for a starting job in the outfield. Her bat is going to bring a consistency to the line-up that we need and her work ethic will only make our program better.”

Tuck, a senior at Walkersville High School, was named Frederick News Post “Player of the Year” and first team all-conference after hitting .661 with 28 RBI. She also set season records in triple (5), doubles (12) and total hits (39).

“Karson is another strong hitter that will add much needed power to our line-up,” said Lehotak. “She plays multiple positions and plays them all well. (She) could see time next year in the infield or outfield and I expect her bat to keep her in the lineup.”

Warner enters her final season at DeLand High School after helping the Bulldogs to a 16-6 record as a junior. As a freshman, she batted .435 with 26 RBI at Spruce Creek High School to earn “Rookie of the Year” honors. The squad reached the Final Four by posting a 25-2 record, while also winning the Kissimmee Klassic tournament along the way.

“Jacey is another natural hitter,” Lehotak said. “She is consistent at the plate and is able to hit with power. Jacey’s nitch in this class is that she knows the game. She is ball smart and I look for her to be a silent leader on the field.”

The current Dolphin squad begins practice in January to get ready for their 2010 season opener against UNC-Greensboro on Friday, Feb. 12.