Softball | General | 11/17/2021

Softball Signing Day Highlights: Big 12

Jerry Miller     
Photo: Perfect Game
National Signing Day, one of the bigger events on the national softball calendar, takes place during the second week of November. For many players and their parents, this day arrives at the end of a long road, mostly smooth and uneventful, but sometimes strewn with potholes and obstacles. National Signing Day for the player, their parents, and the younger brother and sister is a reward for all the sacrifices made by each. Early morning, before school, batting practice or bullpen sessions have been the norm. Late night dinner, often times eaten in the car, is a general practice accepted by all. Long road trips to towns like Chickasha, Okla., Boulder, Colo., Katy, Texas and Burlington, Iowa, just to name a few, with short stops to eat a bologna sandwich and re-fuel, are all well-known rituals. The journey to this day is a tough and tiresome grind. The opportunity to affix a signature to an athletic grant-in-aide is, however, well worth all the aforementioned. The chance to don the college colors and pose for the requisite family photo is often times euphoric and unquestionably deserved.
For the numerous college coaching staffs who have followed prospective student-athletes for years, the joy and satisfaction is different and tempered. National Signing Day is a time for coaches everywhere to take a deep breath, overview their work, and keep moving. The 2022 season opener is just a few short weeks away. The chase for a conference championship, a regional bid, and a trip to OKC is in their front windshield. And, for all, time to continue the process of prioritizing the 2022 National Signing Day class. The old adage of “recruiting never ends” is their well- rehearsed mantra.
Over the course of the next several days, Perfect Game will overview the 2021 NCAA Division-I classes, beginning with the Big 12 Conference. Following that, other commitments of note from across the college landscape will be highlighted.
Big 12
Long a top-heavy conference, the Big 12 has for many years seen the likes of Oklahoma, Texas, Oklahoma State, and Baylor dominate at the top of the standings. The gap has been fairly pronounced and recognized both regionally and nationally. That gap, however, is narrowing, and quickly. Texas Tech, Iowa State, and Kansas have all made big leaps forward in both their recruiting efforts and their subsequent play on the field. There are no “off” weekends during Big 12 Conference play these days and that distance between programs has narrowed significantly.
The juggernaut that is the Oklahoma Sooners just reloads and keeps on chugging. Veteran coach Patty Gasso and her staff have recruited another stellar class to Norman that is certain to keep the tradition-rich OU club at or near the top of the conference and national standings. The defending national champions, who hung their fifth banner this past spring, will always be a top destination for prospective student-athletes and this year is no different.
Kierstin Deal – LHP – Winston-Salem, N.C.
Jocelyn Erickson – Utility – Phoenix, Ariz.
SJ Guerin – LHP – Leander, Texas
Avery Hodge – INF – Richmond, Texas
Oklahoma State
In his sixth year at the helm of the Cowgirl program, Kenny Gajewski has turned the long-successful OSU program into one of the absolute best in the country. He led the Cowgirls to their ninth appearance in the NCAA WCWS this past year and if the signing class of 2021 is any indication, that trend will not stop. The Oklahoma State program now has a national footprint, as evidenced by the outstanding talent that Coach Gajewski and his staff have brought into the fold in Stillwater. No question Cowgirl Stadium will continue to rock this spring and for many years to come.
Kyra Aycock – P – Newnan, Ga.
Angelina Craig – OF – Buffalo Grove, Ill.
Katie Lott – INF – Cypress, Texas
Lexi McDonald – INF – Silo, Okla.
Haidyn Sokoloski – INF – Flower Mound, Texas
Claire Timm – INF – Buena Park, Calif.
Since 2000, Glenn Moore has been at the helm of the Baylor Bear program in Waco and has molded a program steeped in tradition and high achievement. The Bears have made four trips to Oklahoma City and have to take a backseat to no program in the conference or the country. The 2021 recruiting class is certain to keep the Bears at the top of the Big 12 and in the hunt for another trip to OKC. Getterman Stadium will once again be a tough venue for opposing clubs, and if the 2021 signing class is any indication, the Bears will be among the leaders in the race for Big 12 championships and postseason accolades for years to come.
Jensen Vienne – OF/UT – Huntsville, Texas
RyLee Crandall – P – Artesia, N.M.
Ellington Whitaker – C/INF – Houston, Texas
Abigail Flores – C/INF – Beaumont, Texas
Texas Tech
Entering her second year on the South Plains in Lubbock, Sami Ward and her staff have reason for optimism. Their 2021 signing class is talented and deep and is certain to add to the Red Raider program that made great strides last spring. Rocky Johnson Field is always a tough place for visiting teams and with the just-secured class of very gifted players, the red and black-clad Raiders will be a tough opponent for their Big 12 mates.
Elizabeth Moffitt – C – Prosper, Texas
Gabrielle Rawls – OF – Spring, Texas
Madison McClarity – INF – Garland, Texas
Diamond Sefe – C – Carson, Calif.
Victoria  Valdez – C/INF – Alvin, Texas
Iowa State
Entering his fifth year in Ames, James Pinkerton and his staff has brought great respectability to the Iowa State program. The national scope and quality of this year’s signing class is certain to elevate the Cyclones into conference championship contention and should put ISU into the national conversation before too long. Big things are happening for the cardinal and gold.
Ashley Minor – 3B/UT – Rockwall, Texas
Tatum Johnson – P/OF – Chino Hills, Calif.
Tiana Poole – INF – Fountain Valley, Calif.
Jaiden Ralston – P – Paso Robles, Calif.
McKenna Andrews – MIF – Flower Mound, Texas
Mike White arrived on the 40 acres a few years ago with one charge….”win it all”….Win the Big 12 and win the WCWS. The Horns are close to both, and with the arrival on campus next fall of this year’s stellar class, the folks who wear the burnt orange and white may soon see Coach White and his Lady Longhorns raise the coveted Big 12 and National Championship trophies. The Horns have not made a trip to OKC since 2013, but that is certain to change and change soon. McCombs Field in Austin will be a tough ticket and an even tougher place to play for any club paying a visit to the capital city.
Reese Atwood – C/1B – Spring, Texas
Leighann Goode – MIF – San Antonio, Texas
Citaly Gutierrez – P – Stamford, Texas
Maddie Pomykalski – UT – Frankfort, Ill.
Viviana Martinez – MIF – Tolleson, Ariz.
Entering her second year, coach Jennifer McFalls has brought a championship mentality to Lawrence. The former Texas A&M All-American and Olympic Gold medalist knows how to win, and with the 2021 signing class secured, she and her staff, led by former Oklahoma State head coach Rich Wieligman, are building a winner. The Jayhawk recruiting footprint has made strides on the national level the past two years and with the signing of this elite class, KU is well on its way to building a championship softball program.
Campbell Bagshaw – MIF – Topeka, Kan.
Hailey Cripe – MIF – Royal Center, Ill.
Presley Limbaugh – OF – Cooper, Texas
Aynslee Linduff – OF – Oklahoma City, Okla.
Elizabeth Ludwig – P – Smithton, Ill.
Emma Tatum – MIF – Huntington, Texas
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