GREENSBORO, NC – UNC Greensboro softball coach Jennifer Herzig announced Thursday the signing of five players as part of the National Letter of Intent program, while also welcoming one transfer to the program.
Herzig announced the commitments of incoming freshmen Whitney Miller, Emily Akiyama, Brittany Ausley, Whitney Sirois and Kaitlin Merkt. In addition, junior Mary Greenway joins UNCG by way of Tallahassee Community College. These six players join early period signee Amber Harrell.
"I am extremely excited about the quality of players we signed in our 2006 recruiting class, and we are thrilled to welcome them on campus and into the UNCG family,” said Herzig. In addition to the versatility and overall athleticism of the class, their attitudes, work ethics, and personalities make them outstanding additions to our roster. I believe this group of athletes will have a significant impact on the future successes of this program, while truly encompassing the Spartan spirit."
Miller, who hails from Eldersburg, MD, was a three-year shortstop at Liberty High School for head coaches Rob McCormick and Dick Smith. She led the team to three Regional Finals during her time with the Lions and was named Liberty’s Offensive Player of the Year in 2006. Miller was selected second team All-Carroll County by the Baltimore Sun and a Central Maryland All-Conference honoree in 2005.
Miller competed for three years with the Virginia Shamrocks for coach Tommy Orndorff. The 2005 club was ASA Gold National Champions.
“Whitney is a great defensive player with incredibly soft hands and a very strong arm,” added Herizg. “As a member of the Virginia Shamrocks 18U team who won the 2005 ASA Gold Nationals, she has played at the highest level of competition, and will bring great experience and game knowledge to our team."
Akiyama, a native of Kirkland, WA, was a three-year varsity letterwinner at Lake Washington High School for head coach Mike DeAguiar. She was named all-league three times as a middle infielder for the Kangaroos and garnered one first team all-area nod by the King County Journal in 2005 as a junior. A two-time team captain, Akiyama was twice named King County Journal Athlete of the Week and was a 2006 United States Marine Corps Distinguished Athlete Award winner.
Akiyama played three years of summer ball with the Washington Ladyhawks Gold-Miller team as a second and third baseman for coach Wayne Miller.
"After watching Emily play for several years, I have always been impressed by her consistent defensive play,” explained Herzig. “She will strengthen the left side of our infield immediately, and with the potential for power at the plate, will add depth to our offensive lineup."
Ausley was a four-year letterwinner at Wakefield High School in Raleigh, NC for head coach Jamie Ayers. A native of Wake Forest, NC, Ausley was an All-Cap 7 Conference shortstop from 2004-06. She holds school records for batting average and fielding percentage at Wakefield. She helped lead the Wolverines to three second-place finishes in the conference and was member of the 2002 club that made the second round of the state 4A playoffs.
Ausley also played seven years with the Triangle Lightning for coach Tim Moose. The shortstop led the Lightning to the 2005 Port City College Showcase in Wilmington, NC and a third-place showing at the College Showcase in Salem, VA.
"Brittany is an exciting player to watch, and will be a spark to our roster this year,” Herzig said. “She has the ability to play both the outfield and the middle infield, and we are thrilled to add that type of versatility to our roster. Additionally, her speed will allow her to be an offensive threat right away."
Sirois was a four-year catcher for head coach Eddie Dees at South View High School in Hope Mills, NC. She was named All-Region and All-Two Rivers Conference in 2005 and 2006, while also being selected honorable mention all-state in 2006. The Tigers won the Two Rivers Conference each of her four years and were Eastern Regional champs in 2005.
Sirois played with rising all-conference senior first baseman Jennifer Bonilla at South View. She also competed with the Carolina Cougars the past three years for coach Trae Farthing. The Wildcats won a pair of tournaments this summer.
"Whitney brings a demeanor of leadership and strength to our team and will add depth to our catching staff. I am excited about the manner in which I anticipate her working with our pitching staff and governing the entire defense from behind the plate,” said Hezig.
Merkt was a middle infielder for four seasons at Woodbridge High School in Irvine, CA. Under the direction of head coach Alan Dugard, Merkt was named All-Sea View Conference and to the Irvine World News All-City team from 2004-06. She was also named to the 2006 Orange County Coaches softball all-star team and played a key role in leading the Warriors to three Sea View league titles and to the 2003 CIF Southern Section Division I title.
Merkt also played six years of summer ball for the Irvine Sting for head coach Blair Ota. She was a member of the 2003 ASA 14U Western Nationals tournament championship team.
"One of Kaitlin's biggest attributes is her versatility,” mentioned Herzig. “While she has the ability to contribute in several positions, she will primarily be utilized in the middle infield and the outfield. She is an incredibly sound player fundamentally, and in combination with her speed, she will make a great impact on our team."
Greenway played this past season at Tallahassee CC and hit .297 with 32 stolen bases, four doubles and four triples. The year before, she played her freshman season at Ferrum College where she led all of Division III with 1.2 stolen bases per game and was named the inaugural adidas Golden Shoe award recipient. She led Ferrum to a USA South Athletic Conference tournament championship by stealing 50 bases in 51 attempts, setting a school record.
Greenway was named first team all-conference after leading the team in batting (.437), runs scored (40), hits (62), total bases (77), slugging (.542) and on-base percentage (.471).
"Without a doubt, I am most excited about the speed that Mary will bring to our roster this year,” added Herzig. “In both the outfield and as a lefty slapper, Mary's speed will immediately make her a force to be reckoned with in the SoCon. As a junior, I look for her to bring leadership qualities stemming from two years of college experience to our outfield."
Harrell is a native of McDonough, GA and a product of Henry County High School, Harrell posted an 18-7 record last season as a right-handed pitcher for head coach Chuck Campbell and the Lady Hawks. A back-to-back All-Southern Crescent Softball first team selection and a four-time recipient of the Henry County High School Most Valuable Pitcher Award, Harrell recorded a 0.48 earned run average and 198 strikeouts last season for the Lady Hawks.
"We are thrilled to be able to add a pitcher of Amber's caliber to our roster this year,” said Herzig. “Amber has the ability and all of the necessary tools to become a dominating pitcher at UNCG and within the Southern Conference."
Herzig begins her second season with UNCG in 2007.
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