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Softball | General | 12/6/2021

Softball Signing Day Highlights: ACC

Jerry Miller     
Photo: Perfect Game
The ACC has established itself, especially recently, as one of the most powerfully competitive conferences in the country. No longer a league dominated by one of two programs, the Atlantic Coast Conference is as deep as any in the country. Legendary coaches, outstanding facilities, and deep runs in the NCAA tournament are just a few of the drawing cards that ACC programs can offer prospective student-athletes. If the 2021-22 signing classes are any indication, numerous programs are certain to be in the mix for a trip or trips to Oklahoma City and the Women’s College World Series in the very near future.
Clemson has arrived in a big way on the college softball scene. Playing in their first true ACC season after the COVID-shortened 2020 schedule, the Tigers, under the guidance of one of the top coaches and recruiters in the country, former Stanford head coach and USA National Team staffer, John Rittman, captured the ACC regular season championship, posting 44 wins on the year. Clemson made McWhorter Stadium a house of horrors for visiting clubs and that home field dominance is something that will certainly continue as the Tigers have a strong, experienced, and very talented club returning this spring. With just one signee in the current class, Coach Rittman and his staff have the Clemson program positioned for another shot at a conference championship and a deep tournament run.
Marena Knowles – OF/1B – Hawkinsville, Ga.
Florida State
The past 34+ years has seen just two coaches at Florida State University. The legendary Dr. JoAnne Graf patrolled the third base box for 30 years, guiding FSU to the upper echelon of college softball. Lonni Alameda, one of the most highly respected coaches in the country, is entering her 14th season in Tallahassee and the Seminoles show no signs of slowing down heading into 2022 and beyond. The ‘Noles took on Oklahoma in the finals of the 2021 WCWS and battled to the last out of the championship game. Florida State has a 2018 National Championship trophy in the case and is looking to add more in the years to come. The program has made an incredible 33 trips to the NCAA Tournament and has won 17 conference championships. The Seminoles are among the elite in the sport and the short list of the very best must include Coach Alameda’s outstanding program. The three-player 2021-22 signing class shows FSU’s national footprint as two of those players are from the West Coast, while the third is one of the top prospects from the Sunshine State who was recruited by many programs in the country. With 700+ career wins under her belt, Coach Alameda has the Seminoles in a great spot to continue making travel plans for OKC each spring.
Makenna Reid – P – Tigard, Ore.
Avery Weisbrook – SS – Torrance, Calif.
Madi Frey – C/UTL – Lutz, Fla.
The 2021 ACC Tournament Championship trophy sits in the case at Duke. In just her fourth year in Durham, Head Coach Marissa Young guided the Blue Devils to 44 wins last spring and their first-ever appearance in the NCAA playoffs. Duke Softball Stadium became a tough spot to play for opponents last year and that home field dominance looks like it will continue moving forward. Coach Young, a Santa Ana, Calif. native and a former three-time All-American pitcher for Carol Hutchins at Michigan, has turned the Duke Blue Devils program into a national power. The 2021-22 signing class is one of the most talented in program history and ranks among the best in the country this year. This five player group is certain to help in keeping the Devils in the hunt for the ACC crown and a trip to OKC in the years to come.
Aminah Vega – MIF – Debary, Fla.
Sophie Garner-Mackinnon – P – West Hartford, Ct.
D’auna Jennings – OF – Houston, Texas
Cassidy Curd – P – Port St. Lucie, Fla.
Kairi Rodriguez – C – West Palm Beach, Fla.
Virgina Tech
With a workmanlike attitude and a singular focus, Head Coach Pete D’Amour has turned Virginia Tech into a program to be reckoned with. The Hokies have posted 105 wins in his three years at the helm in Blacksburg and are looking to make a big push not only in the ACC, but nationally. A Mizzou grad, Coach D’Amour and his staff guided VaTech to the NCAA Super Regionals last spring and the club has the look of a champion heading into the 2022 spring season. With a talented and deep signing class that is recognized as one of the best in the country this year, the Hokies will certainly look to keep Tech Softball Park a tough venue for visitors in the years to come.
Kylie Aldridge – C – Fayetteville, N.C.
Megan Furr – OF – Centreville, Va.
Lyndsey Grein – P – Mokena, Ill.
Emma Jackson – OF – Chincoteague, Va.
Payton List – P – Beaver, Pa.
Trinity Martin – OF – Lynchburg, Va.
Teagan Thrunk – INF – Point Pleasant, N.J.
Notre Dame
Entering her 20th year in South Bend, La Palma, Calif. native Deanna Gumpf has the Fighting Irish, once again, in the hunt for a conference championship and a deep run in the NCAA playoffs. The University of Nebraska grad has taken the Irish to the NCAA playoffs each year she has been the coach at ND, and that streak looks like it will stay in place next year and beyond. Melissa Cook Stadium provides Notre Dame with a decided home field advantage and with the signing of an outstanding, nationally recognized class, ND should continue to be a national presence on the diamond.
Paige Cowley – P/UTL – Upland, Calif.
Micaela Kastor – P/UTL – Simi Valley, Calif.
Gaelen Kelly – C/1B – Hopewell Junction, N.Y.
Mickey Winchell – OF – Livermore, Calif.
Entering her fourth year at the helm of Louisville, former UMass All-American Holly Aprile has helped elevate the Cardinals program to a contender in the ACC. The former USA National Team member has instilled a winning pride in a program that is looking to make a return to the NCAAs for the first time after a few years away. One of the better venues in the country, Ulmer Field is a big plus for the Cardinals. With the solid four-player signing class expected next fall, the Louisville program is primed to not only compete in the ACC, but win it. A long run in the NCAA Tournament is not out of reach for this well-coached and very talented program.
Sarah Gordon – C – Lexington, S.C.
Cassie Grizzard – P – Midlothian, Va.
Madison (Pickle) Winkler – OF – Crofton, Ky.
Alyssa Zabala – P – Miami, Fla.
North Carolina State
Curtis and Jacqueline Dail Stadium in Raleigh is a one of the premier venues in the country. The North Carolina State Wolfpack have made it a tough place for visiting teams, too. Methodist grad, Coach Jenifer Patrick-Swift, and her staff have recruited outstanding players to campus and the Pack is looking to make a run at an ACC Championship and a return to the NCAA playoffs next spring. The 2021-22 signing class is recognized as one of the best in the country. The shear talent and depth of the incoming class bodes well for NC State and promises to help continue the ascension of the red and white.
Amanda Hasler – C – Avon, Ct.
Madison Inscoe – P – Chesapeake, Va.
Ellie Goins – OF – Mooresville, N.C.
Bailey Edwards – OF – Lumberton, Texas
Wynne Gore – P – Charlotte, N.C.
Nadia Gykes – INF – Raleigh, N.C.
MaKayla Marbury – 2B – Accokeek, Md.
Rylee Wyman – UTL – Gardnerville, Nev.
Since her arrival on campus four years ago, Head Coach Shannon Doepking, a former All-American catcher at Tennessee under coach Karen Weekly, has not only elevated the Orange to national prominence, she has made Syracuse a destination place for the very best players in the country. Syracuse's national softball footprint is obvious and getting stronger. Skytop Softball Stadium is a gem of a home field and provides the Orange with a definitive home field advantage. With the continued influx of some of the country’s best players in the 2021-22 signing class, Syracuse is ready to compete for the ACC crown and make a trip to the NCAA playoffs for the first time since 2012.
Trinity Nichols – INF – Greenville, N.C.
Lauren Vaughn – OF – Winfield, Ill.
Ryan Starr – INF/OF – Piqua, N.Y.
Peyton Schemmer – MIF – Morro Bay, Calif.
Jackie Pengel – P – Avon, Ct.
Kate Dorazio – MIF – Dewitt, N.Y.
Madelyn Lopez – 2B/UTL – Huntsville, Texas
Madison Knight – P – Bel Air, Md.
Georgia Tech
Georgia Tech Head Coach and Columbus, Ga. native Aileen Morales has been around “The Flats” and Shirley Clements Mewburn Stadium for a number of years. The former GT all-ACC standout, All-American, and Puerto Rico National team member has been at the helm of the Yellow Jackets program since 2017 and has put her mark on the Georgia Tech squad. Her ability to recruit outstanding student-athletes is evident and with the influx of the highly touted 2021-222 class, the Jackets are in a position to not only compete for the ACC crown, but win it.
Jayden Gailey – 1B – Lavonia, Ga.
Reese Hunter – C – Roswell, Ga.
Paige Vukadinovich – OF – Munster, Ind.
North Carolina
Legendary Hall of Famer Donna J. Papa, in her 38th year in Chapel Hill, has built a consistent winner and made Williams Field at Anderson Stadium one of the top home fields in the entire land. The Tar Heels are traditionally one of the elite ACC teams, having won five conference championships. The Heels have made 14 trips to the NCAA Tournament and have the roster in place this year to make another ACC Championship run next spring. A Waterbury, Ct. native and UConn grad, Coach Papa and her loyal and dedicated staff have recruited, once again, a very talented class that will certainly impact the Carolina Blue and White for years to come.
Makenna Raye Dark – P – Mebane, N.C.
Lilli Backes – P – Peachtree City, Ga.
Caroline Fox – MIF – Knoxville, Tenn.
Former Colorado State-Pueblo team captain Jodi Hermanek has in her four short years at the helm at Pittsburgh, brought a championship culture to the Panthers program. Varta Bedian Field has helped attract some very talented players to Pittsburgh. The 2022 edition of Panther Softball is unquestionably ready to compete for the ACC crown and advance to the NCAA Tournament. The gifted 2021-22 recruiting class is talented and ready to compete at the highest level when they arrive on campus next fall.
Shelby Frazier – INF – Cypress, Texas
Macy Hamilton – OF – Mansfield, Texas
Sandra Soltes – C – Bethal Park, Pa.
Former Biloa (CA) College All-American Joanna Hardin has Virginia moving in the right direction and if the 2021-22 signing class, widely recognized as being one of the top in the country, is any indication, the Cavaliers are certain to be in the hunt for ACC Championships and numerous trips to the NCAA playoffs. Now in her sixth year at the University, Coach Hardin has instilled a certain pride and a consistent playing style built on strong attention to the fundamentals. The Cavs are ready. Palmer Park in Charlottesville is an elite facility worthy of national praise and gives Virginia a top venue and a decided home field advantage. The talent is now on hand at Virginia to not only impact the conference standings, but to make noise on the national level, also.
Eden Bigham – P – Rustburg, Va.
Mary Caroline Eaton – C/UTL – Charlotte, N.C.
Kelsey Hackett – INF – Appomattox, Va.
Kassidy Hudson – OF – Chesapeake, Va.
Jade Hylton – MIF – Martinsville, Va.
Courtney Layne – P – Appomattox, Va.
Boston College
In just her third year as head coach at Boston College, Providence grad and Friar Hall-of-Famer Amy Kvilhaug is building a winner in Chestnut Hill. The Taunton, Mass. native has brought a winning culture to campus and made the BC program a national draw. Boston College Softball Field is a palace and one of the top facilities in the country and is certain to grow as a definitive home field advantage for the Eagles. If the depth and quality of the 2021-22 signing class is any indication, the Eagles will be a force to be reckoned with next spring and for many seasons to come.
Halie Pappion – P – Lake Charles, La.
Aleyah Terrell – OF – Greensboro, N.C.
Gabby Aughton – P – Gibsonia, Pa.
Maycee Hilt – C/1B – Peoria, Ariz.
Meghan Schouten – UTL – Paradise Valley, Ariz.
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