FAYETTEVILLE – Head coach Mike Larabee and the University of Arkansas softball team has announced the signing of 10 recruits for the 2014-15 season. The newest members of the Razorback softball program are Ileana Aleman, Tori Cooper, Kate James, Haley Meinen, Jessie Mullen, Autumn Russell, Oakley Sisemore, Allison Stewart, Savannah Warren and Madison Yannetti. This marks the fifth recruiting class for Larabee at Arkansas.
"I am very excited about the 2014 class and what these athletes will bring to the program," Larabee said. "The class is very talented with a great blue-collar work ethic and they all love to compete. Academically, all 10 signees have performed well in the classroom and will have a great foundation to build on.
"The 2014 class has great pitching, great power, great speed and a good combination of right-handed and left-handed hitting. We have all positions covered with pitchers, middle infielders, corner infielders, outfielders and a catcher. They are all excited to come to Arkansas and compete for playing time to help us continue working toward our goal of getting to Oklahoma City and winning a national championship."
Ileana Aleman5-3 | INF | R/RPharr, Texas (PSJA North HS)
Aleman Notes: Following her junior season, Aleman was named District 31-5A Offensive Player of the Year and earned a spot on the All-Valley Second Team at shortstop. The previous season she earned first-team all-district accolades and was the District 31-5A Newcomer of the Year as a freshman. Aleman has 143 hits through the first three seasons of her prep career and has hit at least .571 each year. She led PSJA North High School to a runner-up district finish in 2013 and helped the team clinch a playoff berth. She plays travel ball with the South Texas Kaos in La Joya, Texas.
Why Ileana Picked Arkansas: "When I first saw the campus, I fell in love instantly. It felt right."
What Larabee Says About Ileana: "She came to a summer camp in June and wowed us with her defense as a slick-fielding middle infielder that makes all the plays. She also showed some pop, offensively. Her summer coach is Rey Navarro, father of current senior Clarisa Navarro."
Tori Cooper5-5 | OF | L/LNederland, Texas (Nederland)
Cooper Notes: Cooper is a three-time selection to the District 20-4A First Team, having led Nederland High School in batting average and slugging percentage in each of the first three years of her prep career. As a freshman, she was named the District 20-4A Newcomer of the Year for the 2011 season. She has also been named to the Beaumont Enterprise Super Gold First Team on three occasions. Cooper helped the Bulldogs to three bi-district championships and an area title in 2013. She plays travel ball with the Texas Firecrackers Gold in The Woodlands, Texas, and Texas Storm Gold in Bellaire, Texas.
Why Tori Picked Arkansas: "Quality of education, awesome coaches, beautiful campus and outstanding athletic facilities."
What Larabee Says About Tori: "Very talented outfielder with a strong, accurate arm who can cover a lot of ground. She’s not big in stature but can swing the bat. Will mostly swing away but can also bunt and slap. She’s a true triple threat."
Kate James6-0 | C | R/RMaize, Kan. (Butler CC/Maize)
James Notes: James began her collegiate career at Butler Community College where she was a first-team NJCAA All-American as the Grizzlies’ catcher. She was also named the KJCCC Western Division Freshman of the Year and earned a spot on the Jayhawk West Conference First Team. James finished fifth in the country with a school-record 24 home runs and helped Butler CC to a No. 1 ranking and a 54-4 record. During her prep career at Maize High School, she was named to the Kansas all-state team and Wichita All-Metro team on three occasions. She helped lead the Eagles to three top-four state finishes including a state championship in 2010.
What Larabee Says About Kate: "Very strong, athletic player who will compete for playing time at catcher. She possesses a 70 mph overhand throw and hits the ball with power. Last year as a freshman at Butler CC, she hit a school-record 24 home runs and had 79 RBI. Kate had a 1.491 OPS as a freshman and was a first-time All-American. Very vocal catcher who is a solid leader."
Haley Meinen5-6 | 1B/RHP | R/RHouston, Texas (Fort Bend Christian Academy)
Meinen Notes: Meinen is a three-time all-state performer for Fort Bend Christian Academy. As a junior, she was named to the state all-tournament team and earned TAPPS District 4-4A MVP honors after posting eight home runs, 40 RBI with 64 hits and a .538 batting average. Her home run, RBI and hit totals established single-season school records. She has also been a threat in the circle with 49 career wins and led the area with a 1.29 ERA as a freshman. Meinen helped lead the Eagles to a state title in 2013 and has been a part of three undefeated district championship runs. She plays travel ball with the Texas Firecrackers in The Woodlands, Texas.
Why Haley Picked Arkansas: "Christian values in the coaches."
What Larabee Says About Haley: "She came to an all-skills camp and flat-out tore the cover off the ball. Haley can flat-out hit. She is also a very good first baseman. Will also get a chance to compete in the circle, has pitched well this fall."
Jessie Mullen5-9 | INF | R/RNiceville, Fla. (Niceville)
Mullen Notes: Mullen is a three-time all-state selection at Niceville High School, earning first-team honors following her sophomore and junior seasons. In the past three years, she has also been named to the Daily News First Team. Mullen has hit 25 home runs through the first three years of her prep career and has hit at least .375 in each of those seasons. She had a career-best 53 hits as a sophomore. She helped lead the Eagles to a 5A state title in 2011, a runner-up finish in 2012 and three district championships. Mullen plays travel ball for Team North Florida.
Why Jessie Picked Arkansas: "My dream is to play SEC softball for great coaches."
What Larabee Says About Jessie: "Very good athlete that will be able to compete at quite a few positions. I will give her a shot at a middle-infield position to start. She has demonstrated the ability to hit at a very high level against the best pitching in the country. Has great power."
Autumn Russell5-7 | OF | R/RGreenbrier, Ark. (Greenbrier)
Russell Notes: For her efforts on the field during her junior season, Russell was named an all-state and all-conference performer for Greenbrier High School. She also earned a spot on Arkansas’ state all-prep first team. In each of the first three years of her prep career, Russell has hit at least .511 at the plate including a school-record .574 batting average as a sophomore during the 2012 season. In addition to her softball prowess, she is a two-time all-state performer for the Panthers’ track team where she was the 5A state champion at 100 meters and 400 meters in 2012. Russell has travel-ball ties to the Birmingham Thunderbolts, Germantown Red Devils and Texas Travelers.
Why Autumn Picked Arkansas: "I love the softball coaches."
What Larabee Says About Autumn: "She is the fastest player from home to home (10.68) that I have ever timed. If the ball bounces twice off her bat, she’s laughing. Will play in the outfield for us and is also a triple threat at the plate. I’ve been very impressed with the improvements on her full swing."
Oakley Sisemore5-5 | OF | R/RFarmington, Ark. (Farmington)
Sisemore Notes: Sisemore earned all-state, all-region and all-conference accolades following a standout junior season in which she posted a .467 batting average with 49 hits. During the year, she also broke the school record with 41 runs scored and the Arkansas state record for singles in a season. Sisemore was part of the Cardinals’ state championship team in 2011 and has helped lead Farmington to three conference titles and two district and regional titles. She plays travel ball for Crush Elite in Northwest Arkansas.
Why Oakley Picked Arkansas: "I was born a Razorback fan."
What Larabee Says About Oakley: "Very solid outfielder that can go get the ball. She has a very accurate arm and has increased her arm strength a lot over the last year. Moved to the left side of the plate just over a year ago and has made great strides. Her full swing is coming along which is going to make her hard to defend."
Allison Stewart5-11 | RHP/1B | R/ROlathe, Kan. (East HS)
Stewart Notes: Stewart is a two-time Gatorade Player of the Year for the state of Kansas and has earned four All-America honors over the past two years from the ESPN, NFCA and CBS Sports/MaxPreps. She is the two-time reigning KC Metro Player of the Year and Sunflower League Player of the Year. In each of the past three seasons, she has been named to the all-state, all-league and all-metro first teams. Following a standout freshman season, Stewart was recognized as the Sunflower League Newcomer of the Year. She has amassed a 34-2 record in three years with a 0.35 ERA to go along with 347 strikeouts and just 18 walks. With Stewart in the circle, Olathe East has won the past two state titles and earned a No. 10 national ranking in 2013. She owns the single-season school records in RBI (52), slugging percentage (1.014) and strikeouts (164). She plays travel ball for the KC Peppers.
What Larabee Says About Allison: "She can spin the ball better than any pitcher I have ever recruited. Has command of several pitches and loves to compete. It is going to be fun to watch her get more explosive and powerful through our strength and conditioning program. She is also a very good hitter and will get the opportunity to compete for at-bats."
Savannah Warren5-6 | OF | R/RKaty, Texas (Cinco Ranch HS)
Warren Notes: Warren is a three-time all-district selection for Cinco Ranch HS, including first-team honors following her junior season. She is also a standout in the classroom with three academic all-district accolades. She has helped the Cougars to a pair of area championships during her prep career and a District 19-5A title in 2013. The team was also a regional finalist last year. Warren plays travel ball for the Texas Peppers in Tomball, Texas.
Why Savannah Picked Arkansas: "Loved the campus and atmosphere."
What Larabee Says About Savannah: "Another versatile athlete that can play a variety of positions. We will probably play her in the outfield. Very fast and will cause havoc on the base paths. It will be fun to watch her speed increase as she competes against the other speed merchants on the team."
Madison Yannetti5-8 | INF | R/RMesquite, Texas (Poteet High School)
Yannetti Notes: Yannetti is an all-district and all-area performer for Mesquite Poteet High School. She finished her junior year with a .600 batting average to go along with six home runs, 38 RBI and 59 hits and helped the Pirates to a playoff appearance. She owns the school record for RBI in a single season (43) and career (107). Yannetti was the District 15-4A Newcomer of the Year as a freshman when she posted a .430 batting average. She is a standout in the classroom as a three-time selection to the academic all-district team. Yanetti has also earned all-district honors for the Poteet volleyball team. She plays travel ball for the Texas Glory Gold in Dallas.
Why Madison Picked Arkansas: "I have a lot of family there. I love the atmosphere and the great program."
What Larabee Says About Madison: "She will get a chance to compete at third base to begin the fall. Has played on a very competitive travel ball team and has shown she can hit the best pitching in the country. She also has a very high softball IQ and has a huge upside."
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