EDWARDSVILLE, Ill. – Six outstanding student-athletes chose SIUE to continue their softball careers, announced SIUE Head Coach Sandy Montgomery. All six will join SIUE for the 2019 spring season.
SIUE, which heads into the 2018 season having advanced to the Ohio Valley Conference Tournament Championship in each of the last four seasons, added Micah Arps (St. Louis), Kloe Hilbrenner (Odessa, Missouri), Jade Kranawetter (Campbell Hill, Illinois), Kylie Lane (Cape Girardeau, Missouri), Sammie Ofoia (Pearl City, Hawaii) and Amber Storer (Lincoln, Nebraska).
"We're obviously very excited about this class," said Montgomery. "This is a very athletic, powerful class. We have a couple of kids who have tremendous power at the plate and we have two or three who are really fast as well."
Montgomery said she and her coaching staff try to project future needs when recruiting. This year's class went beyond expectations.
"We're excited about the depth and the skill level this class brings to our roster," she added. "We can't wait to get all of them here."
Arps was among the St. Louis area leaders in RBIs, runs scored and stolen bases last season at Incarnate Word Academy.
"She is another kid who is extremely fast," said Montgomery. "She does it all at Incarnate Word – basketball, track and softball. She runs the hurdles in track. To be able to run the hurdles and do it well, you know she is athletic."
Montgomery said Arps can hit with power from the right side of the plate as well as easily beat out an infield single on the left side of the plate
"She also has a strong arm and loves to dive in the outfield," said Montgomery. "She is playing for the St. Louis Chaos and is receiving a lot of experience with them."
Hilbrenner already has shown her ability to excel in multiple arenas. She competes in softball, basketball and track and field at Odessa High School.
"She is a very versatile player," said Montgomery. "She is a strong kid who is going to continue to get better when she gets to a program like ours. She is an extremely athletic player who is an outfielder, a catcher and could play third base if needed."
Her versatility not only occurs in softball. It also has been a big part of her prep track and field career where she runs 100 meters as well as throws the shot put.
A switch hitter at the plate, Hilbrenner played summer softball with KC Elite 99.
"I love Kloe's work ethic and competitiveness," said Montgomery. "She is going to bring a dimension to the team that we have not had in a while."
Kranawetter has an interesting connection to SIUE softball. Her aunt, Jodie (Ohlau) Carey played on the 2007 national championship team at SIUE which recently was honored with an induction into the SIUE Athletics Hall of Fame.
A right-handed pitcher and left-handed hitter, Kranawetter led Trico High School to a third-place finish at the 2016 state championships.
"Jade is a very intelligent player," said Montgomery. "She pitches and can play first. She could play some outfield if we needed it. She hits left-handed and for her size runs really well. I'm excited about her ability to be contribute immediately to our team. When she gets here and is around softball every day, she is going to flourish."
Kranawetter is a three-sport athlete at Trico with four years of softball and volleyball as well as one season of basketball. She has led Trico softball to three undefeated conference titles and earned numerous postseason honors, including first team All-State in 2016 and 2017 as well as second team All-State in 2015.
"Her ability to pitch and hit at this level, will open up the DP (designated player) position for somebody else," added Montgomery.
She played summer softball for the Southern Illinois Dirt Dawgs in 2014 and 2015 as well as the Illinois Force in 2016 and 2017.
Lane comes to SIUE after being a standout player at Cape Central High School. She has run three seasons of track and field and played in four seasons of softball.
Her softball accolades include being a finalist for the SEMO Ball Softball Player of the Year. She led Cape Central in batting average her sophomore and junior season, and she swiped 45 bases this past season, the most in the Cape Girardeau area. Lane is a two-time first team All-Conference and first team All-District selection.
"She is also a competitor in track who is very fast," said Montgomery.
Her track and field numbers also have been impressive. As a freshman she ran the fourth fastest 100-meter time in school history at 13.39. She helped her team's 800-meter relay team to the state finals and took third place in the 400-meter relay.
"She is a raw athlete who has a huge amount of potential," said Montgomery. "She runs well and throws well. She continues to get better and is playing at a high level in the summer."
Lane played two seasons of summer softball with the Southern Storm and three with the St. Louis Chaos. The St. Louis Chaos took third place at the USA/ASA Junior Olympic Cup in Atlanta, Georgia, and was ranked 35th nationally.
Ofoia was a member of the 2017 Hawaii state championship All-Tournament team for Saint Francis High School. She helped Saint Francis to a runner-up finish at the state championships, opening the tournament with a two-home run, six-RBI game.
"She can play first base or third base and is a tremendous hitter," said Montgomery.
"Sammie was heavily recruited by the Power Five Conferences," noted Montgomery. "We have a good culture here, and it is important to the Hawaiians to have a family-oriented program that cares about their kids."
Ofoia was an honorable mention pick as an ILH (Interscholastic League of Honolulu) Softball All-Star as a junior, second team as a sophomore and first team as a freshman.
Storer has been a state qualifier in three different sports for Lincoln Southwest High School, competing in softball, track and field and swimming.
"She hits with home run power," said Montgomery.
An NFCA Academic All-American, Storer helped Lincoln Southwest to a 32-4 record during the 2017 season as a catcher. Lincoln Southwest has placed in the top eight statewide in each of Storer's four seasons, including a second-place finish in 2017.
"She is a great kid," Montgomery said. "Her father (Anthony) is a coach so she understands the game. We were very fortunate to find her coupled with our needs at the catching position. She has a lot of room to improve, but I can see her coming in and pushing for a starting position as a freshman."
Storer has played summer softball for Driven Academy Locos Au since 2009, where she helped the team win the 18A ASA Nebraska State Championship.