The Rogers State softball team announced the addition of 10 student-athletes for the 2018 season, a signing class including two NCAA Division I transfers, one NCAA Division II transfer and seven high school graduates.
The class includes Alex Brake (Joplin, Mo.), Rylee DeLozier (Collinsville, Okla.), Allie McFetridge (Fullerton, Calif.), Andrea Morales (El Paso, Texas), Tailee Reding (Kansas, Okla.), Sierra Skaggs (Bixby, Okla.), Merissa Smith (Tahlequah, Okla.), Katy Taylor (Owasso, Okla.), Brooke Tyler (Coweta, Okla.), and AJ (Alyssa) Waggnor (Verdigris, Okla.)
After being named the fourth head coach in program history in April 2016, head softball coach Andrea Vaughan vastly improved the program in 2017. The Hillcats saw an 11-win increase in 2017 to a 28-24 record that included two eight-game winning streaks, the two longest winning streaks since 2013.
Vaughan, along with first-year assistant coaches Kerry Hallman and Malori Moss, enhanced the team at the plate and in the circle. RSU scored 112 more runs in 2017 as the offense became one of the most potent in the Heartland Conference with 304 runs scored. Home runs more than tripled to 50 in 2017 to help produce 272 RBIs. The team’s batting average rose by 14 points to .304 and the slugging percentage increased to .472, more than 100 points higher than 2016.
The team’s improvements were just as impressive in the circle as the pitching staff’s earned run average dropped by almost 2.5 runs per game from 2016 to 2017, falling to a 3.5 earned run average in the 2017 season.
With the strong recruiting class, the Hillcats look to continue to improve under the guidance of Vaughan and her coaching staff.
Brake joins the RSU softball program after one season at NCAA Division I University of Tennessee. The pitcher from Joplin, Missouri made three appearances in the circle at Tennessee, earning a 1-0 record. Brake started her collegiate career with two record-breaking seasons at Labette (Kan.) Community College. She became the first-ever two-time NJCAA Division II National Pitcher of the Year and was a two-time NJCAA and NFCA First Team All-American. Brake led Labette CC to back-to-back fifth-place finishes at the NJCAA National Tournament and threw a no-hitter in a national tournament game. For her two year career, she totaled school records in strikeouts with 597 and innings pitched at 430.1 innings. Brake tallied 47 wins with a 1.64 earned run average in two seasons. As a sophomore, her 303 strikeouts ranked 12th all-time in a single season in NJCAA Division II. Before her college career, she played three seasons at Webb City High School.
Taylor comes to College Hill after two seasons at NCAA Division I University of Iowa. The shortstop from Owasso, Oklahoma started 68 games in the infield in two years at Iowa. During her sophomore season, Taylor started in 44 games and had 29 hits with 15 runs. She collected 60 putouts and 69 assists. As a junior, she started in 24 games with 42 putouts and 44 assists. Taylor played her freshman season at Labette (Kan.) Community College. She led the nation in stolen bases with 89 and was first on the team in hits (76), doubles (10), triples (three), walks (21), batting average (.435) and on base percentage (.485). The Cardinals went 38-16 and finished fifth at the NJCAA National Tournament. In her high school career, Taylor helped the Owasso Rams to two regional championships and a runner-up finish in the state tournament.
Skaggs transfers to RSU from East Central University. The pitcher made 10 starts and 23 appearances in her freshman season at ECU. Skaggs totaled a 6-5 record with a 2.95 earned run average. She finished with 78.1 innings pitched, including three complete games and 23 strikeouts. In her prep career at Bixby High School, Skaggs earned all-state honors for both fast pitch and slow pitch as a senior along with being named all-district for two seasons. She was an Academic All-Conference selection all four years at Bixby.
Morales joins the Hillcats from Parkland High School in El Paso, Texas. The pitcher and infielder registered 76 wins, more than 1,000 strikeouts, 19 home runs, 130 RBIs and scored 103 runs in her four-year prep career. Parkland won three 2-5A Bi-District Championships in her career. As a junior, Morales finished 27-2 in the circle with a 3.16 earned run average. In 202 innings, she posted 339 strikeouts. Morales was named the 2-5A El Paso Times Pitcher of the Year and the All-District MVP along with being all-state. At the plate, she totaled 54 hits, 10 doubles, 11 home runs and 46 RBIs. Morales picked RSU over interested from NCAA Division I programs UTEP and Texas A&M Corpus Christi.
Reding comes to the Hill from Kansas High School in Kansas, Oklahoma. The pitcher and outfielder was a four-year letterwinner for the Comets. She hit over .400 in all four seasons, going .472 with 59 hits, 14 doubles, five triples and two home runs in her senior season. As a pitcher, Reding totaled a 12-3 record with a 1.30 earned run average and 94 strikeouts in 116.2 innings as a senior. She was the Big 8 Conference Pitcher of the Year as the Comets won the conference championship and districts. An all-state and all-region selection, she pitched eight-straight shutouts, including a perfect game. In her junior season, Reding led the Comets to the state quarterfinals with a 22-4 record in the circle and a 1.75 earned run average. She was named the team MVP and all-conference.
McFetridge joins the program from Fullerton, California, the longest traveling new Hillcat, after completing her prep career at Troy High School. The pitcher and infielder posted a .357 average with 46 hits in her senior season. McFetridge registered 12 home runs and 30 RBIs in the season. For her stellar campaign, she was named Freeway All-League and the Offensive Player of the Year.
Tyler comes to RSU from Coweta High School in nearby Coweta, Oklahoma. As a senior, the Tigers advanced to state after winning the regional championship for the second time in Tyler’s career. She was named all-district and all-region while hitting .407 with 54 hits and 12 doubles as an outfielder. In her junior season, she totaled 42 hits, three doubles and two triples on her way to earning all-district and All-VYPE. Tyler made it to the state tournament as a sophomore with a performance of 47 hits, three doubles and a .416 average from the plate. She was selected All-Tulsa Metro Honorable Mention and all-district honorable mention.
Smith joins the navy and red softball program from Sequoyah High School in Tahlequah, Oklahoma. The catcher and infielder led her team to the state semifinals as a senior. Hitting .578 with 13 doubles, 11 triples, six home runs and 60 RBIs, Smith was named the Sequoyah Team MVP and Muskogee All-Phoenix. Her junior season was just as impressive as she tallied 64 hits, 16 doubles, 15 triples, six home runs and 63 RBIs to be named the Offensive Player of the Year. Smith was named the Newcomer of the Year her sophomore campaign when she totaled 56 hits, 11 doubles, four triples and three home runs. As a sophomore, Smith advanced to the state quarterfinals after winning the regional championship.
DeLozier comes to College Hill from Collinsville, Oklahoma and Collinsville High School. The infielder is a four-year letterwinner for the Cardinals. Collinsville High School made the state tournament all four times in her four seasons, including a state championship during her junior campaign. She finished her senior season with a .504 average with 60 hits, 12 doubles, three triples, seven home runs and 37 RBIs. DeLozier was named First Team All-District at third base and First Team All-Region along with First Team All-State. In her freshman and sophomore seasons, the Cardinals reached the state quarterfinals each year. As a junior she totaled 52 hits, 12 doubles, three home runs and a .430 average as the Cardinals won the state championship.
Waggnor joins the Hillcats from Verdigris High School in Verdigris, Oklahoma. In her final two seasons, Verdigris High School advanced to the state tournament, including a state runner-up performance in her junior campaign. As a senior, she posted 74 hits, 17 doubles, six home runs and 32 RBIs for a .521 average. Waggnor garnered all-state, Verdigris Valley All-Conference and All-VYPE honors. In the state runner-up season, Waggnor finished with a .381 average with 43 hits, nine doubles, three triples and one home run. She was named all-conference as a junior. A strong sophomore season saw her named the Newcomer of the Year, Will Rogers Co-Defensive Player of the Year and All-VYPE as Waggnor hit .403 with 48 hits, eight doubles, two triples, one home run and 26 RBIs. Verdigris High School advanced to the state quarterfinals in her sophomore season.