EDWARDSVILLE, Ill. – SIUE softball Head Coach Sandy Montgomery has signed four players who will be incoming freshmen for the 2014-15 season.
The list of National Letter of Intent signees includes Haley Adrian (Auburn, Ala.), Baylee Douglass (Centralia, Mo.), Sabrina Miller (Chicago Ridge, Ill.), and Maria Prete (Westmont, Ill.).
Montgomery said this class of student-athletes is poised to join the ranks of past and present Cougar softball players who are hard-working, athletic, and committed to raising the level of play for SIUE in the Ohio Valley Conference. The Cougars are coming off a 35-win season in 2013 and will begin the 2014 season Feb. 7 at the LSU Tournament against Minnesota.
"I wanted to get some gritty, hard-nosed players coming in here," said Montgomery. "I want them to be able to step in with some competitiveness and push some people along."
Adrian, who is Montgomery's first-ever recruit out of the state of Alabama, is a 5-foot, 6-inch third baseman and utility player currently at Auburn High School.
"Haley is a very hard-nosed, scrappy, strong work ethic, and high-energy player," said Montgomery. "She is going to bring a good, blue-collar attitude to our team, and that's very important to me."
She started on the varsity team at Auburn as an eighth grader and will complete her senior year this season. As a junior, she tied the state record for home runs in an inning with two against Russell Country High School in the spring of 2013.
A member of the South team during Alabama's North-South All-Star game, Adrian led her team in batting average at .410 with 10 home runs. She has earned All-Area honors three times.
"She's a good hitter all the way around," said Montgomery. "She comes from a great family. We're really excited about her being part of our program. Those are the kinds of kids we want to have on our team."
She was twice named the team's Defensive Most Valuable Player in her eighth grade and sophomore seasons.
A three-sport athlete with basketball and volleyball also on her resume, Adrian selected softball as her primary sport at the NCAA Division I level after playing three seasons at the club level. Adrian played for the Fury, a team based out of Chattanooga, Tenn., and helped her team to a fourth-place finish at the 2013 ASA "A" 18U National Tournament in Clearwater, Fla.
Adrian, who is projected to be a business major at SIUE, is the daughter of John and Anne Adrian.
With pitching being a priority for any coach at the collegiate level, Montgomery said she has signed a player who not only will complement the current staff but also will give opponents problems.
Douglass is a 5-4 right-handed pitcher who also hits from the left side of the plate. She has led Centralia High School to three consecutive state championships. She struck out a total of 23 batters in her final two games at Centralia and finished with a record of 27-2 as a senior.
"She has great spin, and her movement pitches are outstanding," said Montgomery. "She is a true competitor on the mound with a lot of poise. I am very excited that she has become a part of our program."
A three-time first team All-State pitcher, Douglass helped Centralia to four straight conference championships and earned Conference Player of the Year honors twice. She has been nominated three times as the Missouri Gatorade Player of the Year.
Her best effort in a seven-inning game was 17 strikeouts in both the 2011 and 2012 seasons. She came up one strikeout short of repeating her career high in the semifinals of the 2013 Missouri state tournament. She finished with a single-season best 276 strikeouts in 2011.
"She is a strikeout pitcher," Montgomery said. "She'll give a lot of teams fits. Her ball moves. She's got all the pitches, and she will complement our existing staff very well.
Douglass has pitched club softball for the DeMarini Zephyrs Gold since 2010. She helped her team to a top 10 finish at the PGF Platinum Tournament in 2013.
"She is very fast," Montgomery said. "It's possible she could be utilized in some (offensive) scenarios, but her main priority will be pitching."
Douglass, who is projected to be a kinesiology major at SIUE, is the daughter of Lynn and Misty Douglass.
Miller enters her final season at Mount Assisi Academy coming off an All-Conference and second team All-Area selection last season.
"She can catch and play third," said Montgomery. "She is a very good, technical catcher. She's got good skills behind the plate from a blocking standpoint. She has a strong arm."
Miller displayed that strength by recording 58 putouts on steals and pickoffs last season.
As a batter, she finished the season with a .689 batting average, a 1.01 slugging percentage, four home runs, 17 doubles, and 22 runs batted in. Last season, she was named the team's Most Valuable Player and Best Offensive Player.
A 5-2 switch hitter, Montgomery said she is very well known for her competitiveness on the field.
"She also is a hard-nosed, blue collar player," Montgomery said.
Miller has extensive high-level experience in club softball. She played for the Homer Hawks, the Chi-Town Express/Elite, the Illinois Hawks 18U Gold, and the Dirt Devils 18U Elite.
A Bandits High School All-Star, her teams have played at a high level. She was a member of a Bandits All-Star team which included 13 other NCAA Division I recruits.
Miller, who is projected to be a sociology major at SIUE, is the daughter of Susan Miller.
Prete has been the "rock of the infield" at Westmont High School as well as one of the team's leading hitters the past two seasons.
"She's a kid with a lot of potential," said Montgomery. "She has the athletic build to continue to get stronger, quicker, and better every year."
As a shortstop, she was a second team All-State selection in 2011, an All-Area pick, and was named a Top Ten Area Breakout player. In 2012, she was named a Top Hitter by the Suburban Life newspaper. Last season, she earned All-Conference honors at Westmont for a second time.
"She can hit for power and also can hit for average," Montgomery said. "She has pretty good range at the middle infield spot."
Prete has extensive club softball experience dating back to 2008 and 2009 where she played for the Downers Grove Outlaws. She played for the Illinois Bandits in 2009 and 2010. Since 2010, Prete has played middle infield for the Bulls Sox Training Academy which were the 2011 and 2012 ASA "A" 16U Chicago Metro champions. She also helped her team to a top 10 finish at the ASA "A" Nationals in 2012.
Prete, who is projected to be a business major at SIUE, is the daughter of Michael and Dawn Prete.