Coming off its fourth consecutive NCAA Regional appearance in 2016, building toward the 2018 season and with an eye toward the future, the USC Upstate softball program and head coach Chris Hawkins signed eight players to national letters of intent during the early signing period.
Signing to play at Upstate beginning with the 2018 season are Caylie Van Auken, Bree Comer, Hannah Davis, Makenna Helton, Logan Morris, Jordyn Parker, Amy Robinson and Kelsey Sweatt. The signees consist of three from the state of South Carolina, two from Florida, and one each from Georgia, Oregon and Tennessee.
“This new group of players we are bringing in will give us a mix of speed and power, and they are very athletic,” said Hawkins. “Most of all, hopefully, the pitching coming in can keep us close to what we had in Holly (McKinnon) and Lexi (Shubert). The transition to college athletics should be smooth with the amount of returners we have coming back. I look forward to taking this team to familiar places in the postseason. I am extremely glad they chose to be a Spartan!”
The eight members of the early signing class are:
Caylie Van Auken | Pitcher | Seminole, Fla. | Boca Ciega High School
Van Auken is a 5-5 pitcher out of Seminole, Fla. where she plays at Boca Ciega High School. A four-year letterwinner in softball, Van Auken has hit .448 or better in each of her last two seasons at the plate, and struck out at least 135 batters to go with an ERA of 1.91 or lower. She was part of two District Championship and one Regional Championship teams at Boca Ciega. Van Auken was a First Team All-County selection in 2015 and 2016, and a Second Team honoree as a freshman. She has played travel ball for Florida Fushion and Clearwater Bullets. She is the daughter of Calvin and Angie Van Auken.
Bree Comer | Outfielder/Infielder | Gray, Ga. | Jones County High School
Comer is a 5-8 outfielder/infielder from Jones County High School in Gray Ga. She has earned numerous varsity letters at Jones County including four in both softball and golf, and two in basketball. Comer has excelled both on the softball field and golf course as she played on three Region Championship teams for golf. She was selected All-Region twice and All-State once for softball. Comers excels in the classroom earning Dean’s Lists honors each year. Comer has played travel ball for GA Impact, EC Bullets and SE Intensity. She is the daughter of Ray Jr. and Keran Comer.
Hannah Davis | Catcher | Chapin, S.C. | Chapin High School
Davis is a 5-10 catcher from Chapin, S.C. where she has earned five letters in basketball, four in softball and two in volleyball at Chapin High School. An All-Region performer in softball, she has appeared in 89 games over three seasons, and hit .410 with 64 RBI and 92 runs scored. Davis served as captain of the basketball team where she was also an All-Region performer. She has played travel ball for Palmetto Ducks, SC Jets and Carolina Fire. She is the daughter of Bubba and Becki Davis.
Makenna Helton | Outfielder | Knoxville, Tenn. | Halls High School
Helton is a 5-7 outfielder from Knoxville, Tenn. and is a three-year letterwinner in softball at Halls High School. She has hit at least .436 in each of her three previous seasons highlighted by a .510 average as a freshman. Last year, Helton posted a .500 batting average en route to being named All-District and All-KIL. She was named TSCA All-State during her freshman season. Helton currently plays travel ball for Atlanta Vipers. She is the daughter of Tim Helton and Susan Prince.
Logan Morris | Third Base/Shortstop | Sumter, S.C. | Thomas Sumter Academy
Morris is a 5-5 third baseman/shortstop from Thomas Sumter Academy in Sumer, S.C. She is a five-year varsity letterwinner in both basketball and softball at Thomas Sumter, and has won two state championships during her prep career. Last season, Thomas Sumter advanced to the state championship game and finished runner-up. Morris has hit 46 home runs in four seasons capped by a career-high 15 as a junior last season. She has posted a .500 batting average or better in four straight seasons after hitting .691 in 2016. She is a three-time SCISA Class AAA Player of the Year for softball and a Team MVP for basketball. Morris has played for numerous travel ball teams including Palmetto Rage, Palmetto Lasers Lady Lightning and Carolina Elite. She is the daughter of Dean and Jenene Morris.
Jordyn Parker | Outfielder | Bluffton, S.C. | Bluffton High School
Parker is a 5-3 outfielder from Bluffton, S.C. where she attends Bluffton High School. She has earned four varsity letters in softball during her prep career and posted over a .300 average at the plate in each of her first four seasons. Last season, Parker had a .541 batting average while being named to the All-Region Team. She was a South Carolina High School Sports Report All-State selection, Island Packet All-Area Team honoree and Varsity Offensive Player of the Year as a sophomore in 2015 after hitting a career-best .557 with three home runs and added a .842 slugging percentage. Parker also received Varsity Offensive Player of the Year accolades during her freshman season while being selected to the Island Packet All-Area Team for the first time following an offensive season that saw her compile a .430 average with eight triples. Bluffton also won the Lower State Championship that year. Parker currently plays travel ball for Lady Lightning Prospects. She is the daughter of George and Lori Hutson.
Amy Robinson | Pitcher | Grants Pass, Oregon | Yavapai College
Robinson is transferring from Yavapai College in Prescott, Ariz. where she was named First Team NJCAA All-American as the Roughriders placed fourth in the NJCAA National Tournament and won the NJCAA Division I Region I Championship. Robinson went 34-7 as a freshman, and recorded 233 strikeouts and 1.62 ERA in 250.1 innings of work. Robinson is originally from Grants Pass, Oregon where she lettered four years in softball and volleyball at Grants Pass High School. She had an ERA below 1.00 in each of her final two seasons capped by a 0.68 mark as a senior. Robinson was a First Team All-State performer at Grants Pass and was named the Dailey Courier Player of the Year. She is the daughter of Danny and Lisa Robinson.
Kelsey Sweatt | Pitcher | Middleburg, Fla. | Oakleaf High School
Sweatt is a 5-7 pitcher out of Middleburg, Fla. where she attends Oakleaf High School. She has lettered in both softball and volleyball at Oakleaf, and has compiled a 47-10 record on the mound so far in her prep career. Sweatt has pitched 482 innings and registered 568 strikeouts to go with a 1.03 ERA. She has thrown eight no-hitters through her junior season. Last year, Sweatt was named Player of the Year for Clay County and Jacksonville First Coast, and was a First Team All-State selection. She garnered three accolades as a sophomore in being selected First Team All-State, All-County and Jacksonville First Coast. Sweatt began her prep career as a freshman being voted First Team All-County and Third Team Jacksonville First Coast. Sweatt plays travel ball for Santa Fe Inferno. She is the daughter of Derald and Tuesdi Sweatt.
Upstate has won five conference championships in the last four years, taking the ASUN Tournament titles in 2013, 2015 and 2016, and the ASUN Regular Season championships in 2014 and 2015. The success has culminated in four consecutive appearances in the NCAA Tournament from 2013-16, playing in both the Tuscaloosa (2013-15) and Auburn Regionals (2016).
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