Lee University softball coach Emily Russell recently released the list of the final six new recruits to join the Lady Flames for the upcoming 2015 season.
The list includes three freshmen and three transfers who will join freshmen Leigh Beatenbough and Bri Eichbaum from the early signing period.
Emily Dagnan, NiaRaye Ceasarand Kaylie Drew are transfer students while Sarah Merced, Brooke Bailey and Lindsey Watson will enter as freshmen.
“We are very happy with this class and we have a good balance of freshmen and transfers,” said Russell. “I am fortunate to be able to bring in such a talented class. I know that they will have a big impact on the 2015 season.”
The Lady Flames will open play on Feb. 1, 2015, when they host Hiwassee College. Lee will enter the Gulf South Conference portion of the schedule on Feb. 14 when they welcome rival Union University to Butler Field for a three-game weekend set.
Fallbrook (Calif.) HS
Previous School: University of Hawaii-Hilo
Hometown: Fallbrook, Calif.
Honors: 2013-14 All-PacWest Academic Athlete
Position: first/third base
2014 Statistics: .396 batting average, two home runs, three doubles
“I am a junior transfer student from a Division II school, University of Hawaii Hilo. Lee University is giving me the opportunity to make an impact on an already solid, respectable softball program. I believe that Lee University helps athletes to not only reach their fullest potential on the field, but in the classroom as well. I am looking forward to building lifelong friendships with my teammates as well as other students, while working hard to achieve a championship my next two years as a Flame,” said Drew.
Russell stated, “Kaylie will really help us on the corners and she is a very strong hitter. We are replacing two big bats from our lineup. We are counting on her to make an impact immediately. I feel that she has that ability. I know that she will flourish as a student and an athlete at Lee and finish her college career strong. We are looking for her to play a corner for us and add a power bat to the lineup. We have known about her since she was in high school and we are excited that we get a chance to have her join our program.”
Sequatchie County HS
Previous School: Chattanooga State Community College
Hometown: Jasper, Tenn.
Honors: All-Conference Second Team
2014 Statistics: .408 average, 10 home runs, eight doubles
“This is the path God directed me in. It is close to home and has a well-known athletic program. I am also looking forward to starting the nursing program there in the fall,” she stated
“Emily is a tremendous sign for us. She is tough behind the plate. She has caught all of the games at Chattanooga State the last two seasons. I feel that she has really developed as a player in her first two years and we are very pleased to have someone with her experience and approach behind the plate,” said Russell. “She is also a boxer and I think the mental toughness that she developed through her boxing career will help her become a leader for this young team. Her JC team had a great run at the NJCAA championships and she was a big part of their success. She has a good demeanor with the pitchers and I think she will help our staff when she is behind the plate.”
Rodriguez (Calif.) HS
Previous School: Mt. San Antonio College
Hometown: Fairfield, Calif.
Honors: 2013-14 First Team All-Conference, 2009 First Team All-Conference
2014 Statistics: .508 average, 11 home runs, 56 RBI, six doubles, .543 on base, .817 slugging
“I believe LU will provide an environment in which I can flourish academically, socially and spiritually,” said Ceasar.
“I found Nia when I was recruiting another player from her JC. It was evident to me during warm ups that I needed her on our team. She plays the game with passion and it is evident every second she is on the field,” stated the Lady Flame coach. “I am excited to have someone with her love of the game coming into the program. She is a very accomplished hitter and her team finished runner up in Cal JC championships. She is a power hitter that carries a high average. We need her to carry that over and help us replace the loss of Ana in the lineup. I feel that we will be a little more balanced with our power at the plate but Nia will be a big part of that for our team.”
North Cobb (Ga.) HS
Hometown: Kennesaw, Ga.
Honors: 2013 All Region First Team, 2013 Georgia Dugout All State Senior Team Selection, 2013 Warrior Classic All Team Selection, 2013 All County Third Team.
2014 Statistics: .400 average
“I chose Lee because it is a university that will not only fulfill my academic goals, but which will also help strengthen my faith in Christ,” Merced stted.
“Sarah is a very intelligent young lady with a great Lee story. She will be a very good fit for our school and program. She will add depth and speed in the outfield and we are excited to get to work with her next year. She is quick in the outfield and I think she will be even quicker after working with Clint. She has a big upside and we think she can develop into a very good player for us,” said Russell.
Honors: 2014 All-District Team, 2014 Wendy’s High School Heisman candidate, 2013 Clutch Hitting Award, 2013-14 CHS MVP.
2014 Statistics: .517 average
“I visited many colleges in Tennessee and loved Lee University from the moment I stepped on campus. It is a beautiful campus with a warm and friendly Christian atmosphere,” said Bailey. “I attended several Lee softball camps and was impressed with the coaches and the team.”
Russell stated, “Brooke is a tall power hitting catcher from Knoxville. She has been very well coached and we are excited to add depth behind the plate with her. I feel that she was looking for a school like Lee and that we were looking for a player like her. I am excited to get to see what she can do in the fall season.”
Honors: 2013-14 All District, 2013-14 All Region
2014 Statistics: .369 average
“I felt at home at Lee. I love the professors and the atmosphere there,” said Watson.
“Lindsey was a last minute find for our staff and we are fortunate to have found someone with her speed and athleticism. She is quick and has a strong arm in the outfield. She is a good student and a hard worker. I think she will be a good fit for the freshmen class throughout their four years. She is very excited to get going and we are excited to have her with us,” said Russell.