Nov. 23, 2004
ATLANTA – The Georgia Tech softball team signed six recruits during the early signing period, Nov. 10-17, announced by head coach Ehren Earleywine on Tuesday morning. The class includes four Georgia state standouts in Whitney Haller (Powder Springs), Aileen Morales (Columbus), Lacey Richardson (Sharpsburg) and Blair Shimandle (Lagrange), one from the state of Florida, Kala Guy (Hollywood) and one from the state of Nevada, Kayla Dunn (Carson City).
“This is a very special recruiting class,” said Earleywine. I knew we would get quality student-athletes, but we really exceeded our expectations with this class. We signed six in all, one of which will join us in the spring, Aileen Morales. She will graduate early and join our team and compete for time at second base and in the outfield.
“The first thing I think of when I look at this class is power. Dunn, Guy and Haller all have the ability to hit double digit home runs for us a year. We are currently deep with speed and the incoming power will be a nice compliment to that. We also signed three pitchers in this class, Richardson, Dunn and Haller, to help with the loss of senior All-American Jessica Sallinger next year. You could coach for 20 years and never get another pitcher of her caliber, but we feel comfortable with the three we have coming in. Rowland and Shimandle are great compliments to the mix as they are very versatile players.
“I’m very thankful for all the hard work my staff has put in, especially Felicia Coursey, the recruiting coordinator. We are all really excited about this class and what they are capable of.”
Dunn is a senior at Douglas High School in Carson City, Nev. The three-time all-state utility player is hitting .458 in her career and carries a .889 slugging percentage. She has driven in 148 runs in her career and is nine shy of breaking the state record. Dunn has connected on 30 home runs in three seasons and needs just seven more to become the state record holder. In the circle, she is 26-10, with a 1.67 ERA and has 308 strikeouts in 250 innings pitched.
“Kayla will wear many hats for us next year,” said Earleywine. “We recruited her primarily as a power hitter. She hit 71 home runs in her high school and summer ball career and will expectedly slide right into the heart of our order. She is also a very talented pitcher and could very easily be in our starting rotation. Kayla isn’t just a multi position player that does okay at several positions, she excels. She is the ace pitcher for one of the premier California summer teams and lays shortstop when she is not pitching. She possess a very strong throwing arm and because of her athleticism, she can play anywhere on the field.”
Guy is a third baseman/ catcher from Hollywood, Fla. She led Hollywood Christian to final ranking of 15th in the country last season. Guy helped guide her high school team to the state title in 2003 and ’04 and was tabbed Miami Herald Female Athlete of the Year and Offensive Hitter of the Year. Guy hit over .600 last season and drove in 48 runs.
“Kala is without a doubt one of the best all-around high school players in the country,” said Earleywine. “She has all the weapons necessary to be an All-American, including work ethic that is second to none. Her standout trait is the ability to hit, and do so with tremendous power. I can’t think of another hitter who displays this kid of presence at the plate, even at the collegiate level. She plays multiple positions on defense, but will be the frontrunner for the starting job at third base for us next year. She has quick feet, a strong arm and is more committed to the game than any other girl I have seen to this point. She’s humble and kind off the field, but once she steps between the lines, she is a fierce competitor who hates to lose. Kala is an impact player that is capable of taking this program to the next level.”
Haller, a native of Powder Springs, Ga., is a four-time all-county selection and earned all-state honorable mention honors from 2001-03. She was selected as the team’s Most Valuable Player in ’04 and is a Scholar Athlete. Haller hit .336 last season and carried a record of 18-6, with a 1.00 ERA and fanned 159 batters in senior season, including eight shutouts.
“Whitney is a power hitting first baseman that will also see time on the mound for us right away,” said Earleywine. “I only needed to see her play one time last fall before making her an offer, it was really a ‘no-brainer’. She is an in-state player who can hit, pitch, and will most likely end up being the Valedictorian at her high school. In addition to her athletic and academic greatness, she is one of the finest young ladies you will ever meet. I look for her to compete at first base right away. Last year, she was throwing 61-64 mph, before being limited to 58-61 due to tendonitis in her throwing arm. Once we get her treated and healthy, she could blossom into something special. With a very muscular and athletic 5’9″ frame, Whitney is full of untapped pitching potential. She’s already an awesome talent, but it will be fun to see how good she can get in the years to come.”
Morales will join the Tech squad after graduating this December from Hardaway High School in Columbus, Ga. The Georgia State 4A Player of the Year led her team to the state title in 2003 and is a two-time all-state softball player. She was selected to the all-city team in 2002 and ’03, and received the team’s Most Valuable Award after hitting .404 in her senior season.
“Aileen will be the first player in Georgia Tech softball history to graduate early from high school and come play at Tech,” said Earleywine. “She will join us this spring after having a stellar fall season as the shortstop at Hardaway High School. Very few players are capable of making that kind of transition, but she has great instincts, maturity, and unmatched ability. She is a phenomenal athlete and a very savvy player who I will call on early for leadership. She runs as well as anyone I’ve seen, plays great defense, hits for average, and has gap power. She plays middle infield and outfield, but will most likely compete for the starting position at second base upon arrival this spring. If you have nine players like Aileen, you’ll win.”
Richardson is a left-handed pitcher from Sharpsburg, Ga. There, she set school records in innings pitched (589.67), strikeouts (861), wins (77), 19 no-hitters, three perfect games and holds ever single season school record at Northgate High School. He finished her career with a microscopic 0.45 ERA and is a three-time all-state honoree. Richardson is a four-time AJC All-Area player and was tabbed County Player of the Year in three straight seasons.
“We searched long and hard for the right pitcher out of the 2005 class and found it in Lacey,” said Earleywine. “She has great stuff including a change up that is as good as we have seen. The left-hander should see immediate action and we expect her to be in our 1-2 pitching rotation. She isn’t afraid to compete and wants the ball when the pressure’s on. I’d feel comfortable with her on the mound against anybody on our schedule and am truly looking forward to having her on board next season.”
Shimandle is another Georgia state standout that will join the Jackets next season. A senior at Lagrange High School in Lagrange, Ga., Shimandle is another utility player that can play many different positions.
“Blair will be a very versatile player that will serve a valuable utility role for us,” said Earleywine. “She runs extremely well, has very strong arm, plays most anywhere, and really likes to compete. She will bunt, slap, and hit from the left side. In high school she switched back and forth between hitting right-handed and left-handed and therefore hasn’t fully developed her swing from the left side because of it. Her short game is already threatening, but when she reaches her potential and improves her ability to hit away, she may really surprise some people. You can see that she has pop and a lot of strength, but the mechanics need polishing. Blair is another great student that will probably end up valedictorian. I am really looking forward to watching her compete and push some of the others for a starting position next year.”