Wednesday was National Signing Day and Sam Houston State University added an abundance of new athletes to the Bearkat Athletics family.
Baseball signed seven fresh faces, Kats softball added eight players and soccer will bring five new names to the pitch.
Starting on the diamond, first-year head coach Jay Sirianni announced the signing of a trio of pitchers, three position players and a potential two-way player in Logan Hewitt out of Aledo High School. The 5-foot, 11-inch right hander opened eyes as a first team all-district pitcher with 60 strikeouts in just under 45 innings pitched and can also play infield and swing the bat.
“[Hewitt has] a good three-pitch mix and very good fastball command,” Sirianni said. “Simply put, Logan can flat out pitch. He also has excelled as an infielder and has a chance to help us as a two-way player.”
Accompanying him on the mound will be Coltin Atkinson, lefty Dakota Palmer from Needville High School and Howard College/Virginia Tech transfer Alex Havlicek. Atkinson is a 6-foot, 2-inch righty who has a lot of upside and really impressed SHSU at a camp.
“Coltin is a strike pumper with a plus changeup,” Sirianni said. “We are excited to watch him develop and pitch big games for us in the future.”
In addition to the new arms, Easton Loyd is a middle infielder/ utility player out of Hallsville High School who was named 2019 district offensive MVP. Just like Loyd, Mason Schulz is an infielder who also bats left and throws right. He is a product of Clear Springs High School in League City and was district MVP and a second team all-state player in 2019. Last but not least is decorated Grayson Community College transfer Brandon Pruitt who capped off an impressive high school career by hitting .396 as a senior at Fort Bend Travis High School and kept the hot bat alive with a .377 average his first year at Grayson. Pruitt can play multiple positions in the infield and the outfield.
SHSU softball has a heavy recruiting class coming off its Southland Conference championship a year ago. Garrett Valis will have eight new players joining his squad in 2021: two-way player Kylie Hobbs, two pitchers, a catcher and four infielders/ utility players.
“I am very excited about this class of athletes, and it’s a deep class in all three phases and fills many future needs of our program,” Valis said. “I feel this group will be a strong one.”
This crop of position players has a chance to make a huge impact for the Bearkats program in the future. Lauren Whitney is a three-time first team all-district selection at catcher out of Lutheran South Academy in Friendswood who has a defensive player of the year award on her resume. Caitlyn Goodeaux, Avery Tumey and Courtney White all signed their letters of intent as utility players and round out the position player group along with Hallettsville High School infielder Kenzi Lange.
“The versatility from this group of position players will be a huge advantage for us moving forward,” Valis said. “I anticipate each athlete to fit into our family culture and bring something different athletically to our already strong roster.”
Aside from Hobbs, two other right-handed arms have signed with the Bearkats. Christine Billmeier joins SHSU from Pilot Point High School where she was the District 9-3A MVP her sophomore year. Mika Vento rounds out the group ranked fifth in her class after an impressive career at Mercedes High School where she was a four-year letter winner.
“We are bringing in three pitchers to help solidify our pitching staff for the future,” Valis said. “These three young women will complement each other very well in the circle and are a home run from an academic and character standpoint.”
Head coach Tom Brown and SHSU soccer signed five high school seniors fresh off a Southland Conference Tournament appearance.
Brianna Barrea, Millie Drinkhall and Landri Townsend are a trio of forwards joining the Kats. Barrea had a very successful junior year at Boerne High School where she was a first team all-district and all-state selection. Drinkhall has played for Derby County the past eight seasons in Derbyshire, England and won the Inter-County National Championship. Townsend was a three-time all-district academic honoree at Little Elm High School and plays for the FC Dallas club team.
“I have been very impressed with Landri’s ability to… score goals since we first saw her play,” Brown said. “She brings a mentality that we have been trying to build into our current team. She likes to score goals, and I think that she can do that here.”
According to Brown, Avery Fischer (a midfielder from Cedar Ridge High School in Round Rock) could be an extremely dynamic player as a winger.
The Bearkats also signed a goalkeeper. Bella Schoen-Kiewert was a three-time all-district selection at Frisco High School and was the starting goalie for Solar ECNL who won its conference championship last year.
“Bella is a very athletic goalkeeper,” Brown said. “She is a very good distributer of the ball which is important for the way we want to play.”
Jason Hooten and company signed 6-foot, 4-inch guard Jarren Cook from Carrollton. Cook averaged 24.0 points per game at Newman Smith High School en route to becoming the District 11-5A MVP. Kian Scroggins also signed as a big man and brings with him 19.5 points per game and 10.5 rebounds per game. The 6-foot, 7-inch forward is a product of Peculiar High School in Raymore, Missouri. Finally, Bryce Monroe joins SHSU from Riordan High School in Oakland, California.
Women’s basketball announced a couple of signings Thursday beginning with Deondra Young from Bryan who averaged a double-double in her Rudder High School career: 23.4 points per game and 15.0 rebounds per game. Guard Diamond Hunter also signed from Baton Rouge, Louisiana and brings with her 21.7 points per game.
Men’s golf added a pair of signees in Will Horn from Rockwall High School and Nathan Weber from Centennial High School in Frisco.
Track & Field/ Cross Country
SHSU track/cross country has added four rather decorated women to the program: Top-25 1600-meter runner in her class Katie Straub from Fort Bend Travis High School, Top-10 300 hurdler in the state Tytiania Morrison from Eisenhower High School, two-time 400-meter UIL 4A state champion Jackeria Woodkins out of La Marque High School and Alief Hastings High School product Aerieal Williams who runs the 100, 200 and 400 meter.
SHSU signed Makensie Garner from Bridgeland High School in Cypress who according to head coach Brenda Gray is a spark on the court. The Kats also added Arianne Renaud, an outside hitter from Shadow Creek High School in Pearland. Lebanon Trail High School outside hitter Rayna Williams also signed out of Plano. Local Houston product Hannah Baker from Deer Park provides some special defense for the Bearkats alongside high school teammate McKenzie Morvant who stands 6-foot tall and is one of the most talented middle blockers around.
Signing classes are always liable to change/expand as time goes on. Baseball and softball’s signees will join the clubs for the 2021 seasons. Soccer, basketball and volleyball’s classes will begin in 2020.