Union softball is young and excited

Union softball encourage pitcher.

Union’s softball program officially announced their signing class for spring 2017. After a struggling season last spring finishing 10-40, head coach Heather Hall looks forward to having a stronger year.

With twelve freshmen joining eleven returners, Union softball has an entire new look entering the spring.

“Twelve is a lot to bring in one class, but we knew we had to build back up to where we left off a few years ago,” Hall said. “Our freshmen class has some phenomenal pitching and I really think they will match up really well against other conference teams. They’re quality pitchers that are really great leaders.”

Hall believes the freshmen will impact their program in great ways this fall and into the spring. With such a talented bunch, Union University can look forward to seeing young, fresh faces in the field and at bat.

“I definitely think the new recruits will help a lot in conference, we’ve already seen it this fall,” Hailey Cummings, senior exercise science major said. “We’ve had six freshmen on the field at one time this fall. They play at such a high level of competition, you wouldn’t be able to tell they are freshmen and that’s exciting to see this far ahead of season.”

Ashley Scott is a second baseman who went to school at Dickson County High School where she played four years of softball. She led her team to a TSSAA AAA State Champion title in 2014 and 2016. Scott helped her softball team to a TSSAA AAA State Runner-Up title in 2013 and 2015. Her teams were twice district champions, four time region champions and four time section champions Scott was named all-district three times, District Offensive Player of the  Year (2016), all-state twice and was selected to play in the Tennessee All-Star Game and the Tennessee/Kentucky All-Star Game.

Hannah Ridolfi is a pitcher and first baseman who went to school at McCracken County High School and played four years of softball. She helped lead her team to four district titles, three region titles, two state championships and two state runner-up finishes. Ridolfi also played for the 2013 Triple Crown 16U Gold East Coast National Title team. Ridolfi was named to the state all-tournament team three times, region all-tournament three times and district all-tournament three times. She was first team all-state as a senior and second team all-state as a junior. Ridolfi was selected to play in the KSCA East/West Senior All-Star Game. She posted a 12-2 record as a senior with 89 innings and 72 strikeouts with a 1.96 ERA. She also hit .531 with 60 RBI and a .723 slugging percentage and a .835 on-base percentage.

Parker Davis is an infielder and pitcher who went to Adamsville High School where she played five years of softball. She led her team to two district championships and two regional championships. Her team finished fourth in the state tournament in 2015. Davis is a four-time All-District recipient, four-time All-Tournament recipient, and was district tournament MVP one time. Davis was named to the All West Tennessee Second Team twice and First Team once. On the mound, David posted an ERA of 1.41 with 169 strikeouts in her junior season. Offensively, she hit for a .455 batting average with 35 RBIs.

Alyssa Merritt is a catcher who went to Arlington High School. She played four years of softball. She also played four years of travel softball for the MS Illusions. Merritt helped her high school team to four district titles. She was named all-district twice. Merritt threw out 75 percent of would-be base stealers from behind the plate. She hit .340 during her career.

Gabby Morris is a pitcher and outfielder, prepped at Adamsville High School where she played five years of softball. She helped lead her high school softball team to three district titles and four region titles. She was all-district, all-tournament MVP, TSCA All-State and TSWA All-State as a sophomore. As a junior, she as all-district, all-tournament MVP, TSWA All-State, West Tennessee Pitcher of the Year. As a senior, Morris was named all-district, all-tournament, TSCA All-State, TSWA All-State, West Tennessee Pitcher of the Year, and played in the West Tennessee All-Star Game and the Tennessee/Kentucky All-Star Game. As a senior, Morris posted 239 strikeouts and hit .500 with 13 home runs, 58 runs and 35 RBI. As a junior, she had 222 strikeouts from the circle and hit .484 with 22 RBI and four home runs. She had 146 strikeouts as a sophomore, while also hitting .464 with 54 RBI, 12 home runs and 52 runs.

Molly McKelvy prepped at Zion Christian Academy where she played outfield for five years of softball. She led her team to the TSSAA Elite 8 in softball two years, and two years for volleyball. In 2015, McKelvy helped her volleyball team to a District IIA TSSAA championship. Also in 2015, she was named to the all district softball team and second team all district for volleyball. She posted a .513 batting average her junior season of softball, and an on-base-percentage of .549.

Emily Boone is a second baseman and outfielder. She went to school at Stewarts Creek High School where she played one season of softball. She also played softball for Smyrna High School and helped lead her team to the 2013 Tennessee State Title. She played two years of softball for the Jack City Program where she hit .359 with a .503 on-base percentage and a .988 fielding percentage. Boone holds the Jack City Spring Program season and career record for suicide squeezes with 14 in a season and 25 in a career. She also holds the Jack City record with 67 consecutive defensive chances without error.

Ashley Graves is a pitcher and first baseman. She went to Beech High School and played four years of softball. She was named to the all-district team three times, all-tournament team twice, and all-district MVP once. Graves also earned the TSSAA Student Athlete Academic Award.

Peyton Mathis went to Hickman County High School where she played softball four years and was selected to the All District honorable mention team in 2013, first team All District in 2014, and second team All District in 2015. She posted a .518 batting average in 2014, and a batting average of .392 in 2015.

Page Robertson is an infielder who prepped at Crockett County High School where she played four years of softball. She also played club softball for the Tennessee Ball Hawks and the Lady Jaxx 97. Robertson helped lead her team to the 2016 Tennessee state title. Robertson was a three time defensive player of the year, two time team MVP and two time pitcher of the year. As a senior, she added West Tennessee All-Star, second team All-West Tennessee, all-district and all-district tournament to her honors.

“Both Robertson and Mathis will be fighting for a starting position at short stop this spring,” Hall said.

Kristen Pickens is a catcher and outfielder who played five years at University School of Jackson and helped lead her softball team to a state title in 2012. She was named all-region five times, all-district three times, All-West Tennessee honorable mention in 2013, TSCA All-State in 2016 and Jackson Sun All-West Tennessee 2016. As a senior, Pickens hit .404 with 40 hits, 25 RBI, 15 doubles and 23 walks.

“Pickens is a really big plug for us,” Hall said. “She came in late in our recruiting class, but she’s really impressive.”

Abby Swilly is a first baseman and pitcher, prepped at McMinn County High School where she played three years of varsity softball. She was named all-district twice, team MVP and was nominated for the Daily Post Athenian Best of the Preps Award. She led her team in batting average, on-base percentage and slugging percentage in both her junior and senior seasons. As a senior, Swilley hit .460 with a team high 36 RBI and a .717 slugging percentage.

“Swilly is amazing,” Hall said. “She’s going to break records here.”

“I feel pretty confident coming into this season,” Cummings said. “One thing that we consistently struggled with last year was our pitching. This year we gained six new pitchers that throw really well. They’ve shown to be strong on the field and it makes me excited to see what happens come spring.”