By Joey Bennett
Five Wabash Valley area high school softball standouts have signed national letters of intent this month to play collegiately, one for a national small-college powerhouse and four others at the Division I level.
West Vigo’s Gina Furrey has had a goal for a long time of suiting up for the St. Mary-of-the-Woods College Pomeroys, and will achieve that ambition next fall.
D-I signees were Terre Haute North’s Danielle Ketner with Indiana State, Linton-Stockton’s Stephanie Fougerousse with Tennessee State, White River Valley’s Tayler Kail with Butler and Bloomfield’s Shelby Gott with Oakland (Mich.).
Furrey, a pitcher and power-hitting slugger, will not have to travel far to find her collegiate home next year.
“I have always loved the campus and have gotten to know the girls and coaches very well,” she said. “SMWC just seems to be a perfect match.”
The Pomeroys won the United States Collegiate Athletic Association national championship in 1997, 2000, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2007, and 2008. The team completed the 2009 season with a 26-21 record and a third-place finish in the USCAA National Invitational Tournament.
“I expect that the competition will be of a much higher degree than I have been exposed to,” Furrey said. “I am ready for the challenges that I will face in my very near future.”
Like many signees, Furrey credits her parents for their support over the years in her career development.
“My mom and dad have always been there for me and my softball career, whether it was going to games, catching me at pitching lessons, or just giving me moral support,” she said. “My first pitching coach played for the Woods and since then my goal was to follow in her footsteps.”
Furrey, an excellent student and accomplished violinist, plans to major in elementary education/special education.
SMWC coach Gary Rodgers realizes he got pretty lucky in getting Furrey to join his program.
“I consider Gina a great fit for SMWC and consider us very fortunate in signing her,” Rodgers said. “She has excelled in the classroom and in athletics. Her personality, attitude, and work ethics are outstanding.”
Rodgers does not think it will take long for her to make an impact.
“She will contribute to the team as a freshman, and she will bring pitching hitting, and the possibility of playing two or three other positions to the team right away,” Rodgers said. “She is a great person with great values, and we are very excited to have her.”
Ketner comes from a family long involved on the softball diamond, as her father Keith and several uncles were long-time pitchers on the local fastpitch scene.
Ketner will be a fourth-year starter this spring for the Patriots. In her freshman year, she hit .289 with three doubles, one triple and six RBI and 13 runs scored. She improved those numbers as a sophomore to a .382 batting average, six doubles, two triples, four home runs and 17 RBI with 16 runs scored.
Last spring, Ketner hit .384 with seven doubles, three triples, two homers and 14 RBI with 19 runs scored.
Ketner also considered St. Joseph’s and St. Mary-of-the-Woods, where older sisters Erica and Jessica both played on national championship teams.
Location definitely played a part in her decision.
“I am super excited that I get to stay at home,” she said. “It is great to have the support of the community, and it’s going to be an awesome experience.”
The Sycamore program is on the rise, advancing to the Missouri Valley Conference semifinals last spring.
“ISU is such a great place softball-wise,” she said. “It’s D-I, and I’m excited about that. I’ve been waiting for this since I was five.”
Ketner plays third base for the Patriots, unless Coach Jack Kirchner needs her somewhere else. Like many college newcomers, Ketner does not expect to have a set position early in her career.
“Coach [Brenda] Coldren said I’ll be a utility player starting off,” she said. “I’ll move around a lot, and play wherever they need me.”
Coldren cannot officially comment on Ketner’s signing until next week, and her comments will be included in a future “College Report.”
Kirchner envisions Ketner as a second baseman at the college level.
“It’s great that ISU is signing her, and it’s great to see them get local kids,” he said. “She’s a really hard worker who does whatever you ask. She’s a team player, and she’s a really great kid.”
Hardly an imposing physical figure, Ketner often surprises opponents with her ability to drive the ball.
“She’s one of our leading power hitters, and she really has a lot of pop in her bat,” Kirchner said. “I think she could become a good second baseman at the college level.”
Greene County produced the other three signees, as reported by the Greene County Daily World.
Fougerousse pitched the Miners to the Class 2A state championship game last spring after starting her career at WRV, and is looking forward to the challenge.
“My goal has always been to go Division I and I've attained that,” she told the Daily World. “They have the program [pre-medicine] that I really wanted and the coach puts academics first. That was very important to me.”
Tennessee State competes in the Ohio Valley Conference.
“I just want to perform well at the Division I level,” Fougerousse said. “I know it's going to be a lot more difficult than I've ever experienced, and I'm looking forward to that challenge.”
Kail, a catcher, said the signing capped off a lifetime of hard work on the diamond.
“I really wanted to go there, so it was a real honor,” she told the Daily World. “To be able to do it says a lot about how hard work pays off.”
Ruan Fougerousse, Stephanie’s mother and Kail’s coach, predicts success for the tough backstop.
“Tayler's one of the best catchers in our area and I've said that for many years,” Fougerousse said. “I’m just really excited for her. She'll do great.”
Kail plans to major in physical therapy.
Oakland Coach Glenn MacDonald first saw Gott play two years ago, and he knew then that someday he wanted to sign the Bloomfield standout.
“I knew then she would be a great fit for our program,” McDonald told the Daily World. “She has good speed, a very good bat and a lot of quickness on the bases.”
Gott, a pitcher for the Lady Cardinals, will find herself in a different spot at the college level.
“During summer ball, I always play in the outfield and I am going to play outfield at Oakland,” Gott told the Daily World. “I am very comfortable in the outfield and think that will help in the transition to play at the next level.”
Gott hit .462 as a junior and .418 as a sophomore, and will break the school’s pitching record for strikeouts this spring.
She plans to major in business and become a pharmacy sales representative.
• Eller has great fall season — Terre Haute North grad Jared Eller recently completed an excellent fall baseball season for Ancilla College in northern Indiana.
Ancilla posted a 7-5 fall record, and Eller played in all 12 games — batting .403 while starting five games at third base. He picked up one pitching victory with a two-inning relief appearance.
Ancilla competes in the Michigan Community College Athletic Association.
• • •
• Fulkerson to Holy Cross — Terre Haute North baseball/tennis standout Parker Fulkerson made a verbal commitment last month to attend Holy Cross, a Division I school in the Patriot League. More to come when the paperwork becomes official.
Joey Bennett is a former Tribune-Star sports reporter who now teaches and coaches at Northview High School in Brazil. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Wabash Valley basketball athletes
Jarrod Brett, men’s ass’t coach, Franklin — Has helped coach team to 1-2 record.
Brent Owen, men’s graduate ass’t coach, Southern Indiana — Has helped coach team to 3-0 record.
Matt Kennedy, Fr., Olney Central — No statistics available.
Mardi Steiner, Fr., Olney Central — No statistics available.
Chase Haltom, Sr., Wabash — Averaging 11.3 points, third on team, and 1.3 rebounds per game.
Mike Carpenter, men’s head coach, Danville Area CC — Has coached team to 3-4 record.
Jake Kelly (former Marshall resident), Jr., Indiana State — Averaging 10.7 points and 2.7 rebounds per game.
Mike Roberts (former Terre Haute resident), men’s ass’t coach, Rice — Has helped coach team to 1-1 record.
Ryan Russell (former Turkey Run student), Jr., DePauw — Has started both games for 2-0 Tigers, averaging 4.0 points and 1.5 rebounds per game.
Lexi Russell (wife of Terre Haute native Mike Russell), Fr., Olivet Nazarene — Has started one game, averaging 2.5 points and 1.3 rebounds per game.
Jon Prevo, women’s head coach, Rose-Hulman — Has coached team to an 0-2 record.
Logan Eitel, Fr., Indiana State — Sitting out season as a redshirt.
Lucas Eitel, Fr., Indiana State — Sitting out season as a redshirt.
Keisha Switzer, Fr., Danville Area CC — Averaging 1.7 points per game and 2.2 rebounds.
Brittani Wolfe, So., Greenville — Has played in all three games, averaging 4.0 points and 1.7 rebounds.
Heidi Dahnke, Fr., Illinois-Chicago — Has played in three games, averaging 1.7 points and 1.3 rebounds.
Andrew Gilman, Jr., Wabash — Averaging 2.0 points and 1.0 rebounds per game.
Donnie Abrams, Fr., Marian — Has played in two games, averaging 2.0 points and 1.5 rebounds.
Mike Newell, men’s head coach, Arkansas-Monticello — Has coached team to 1-2 record.
Derryn Axtell, Fr., St. Mary-of-the-Woods — No information available.
Heath Chamberlain, Sr., Marian — Has not played this season.
Julia Whitted, Sr., IUPUI — Made season debut on Tuesday with eight points after missing first three games due to injury.
Josiah Brock, Jr., Lincoln Christian — Had 12 points and six rebounds in Nov. 24 win over the Saints of Central Christian College.
Lexee Hayes, Jr., SMWC — No information available.
Kirstin Kimball, Fr., Danville Area CC — Averaging 2.1 points and 2.8 rebounds per game.
Austin Akers, Fr., Olney Central — Ranks 10th in NCJAA Region 24 with 12.6 points per game and eighth in region in assists with 2.75 per game.
Kirsten Henry, Fr., Olney Central — No statistics available.
Harry Marshall, Sr., Indiana State — Averaging 10.2 points and 4.0 rebounds per game.
Samantha Stahl, Jr., Oakland City — No information available.
Jared Maners, Jr., Oakland City — Scored 20 points in an exhibition loss to Austin Peay.
Antonio Marshall, So., Olivet Nazarene — Leads team in scoring at 15.8 points per game and averages 2.6 rebounds.
Callie Matsel, Fr., Lake Land — Averaging 10.0 points and 2.0 rebounds per game.
Heather Gonser, Fr., Indianapolis — Had four points and three rebounds on Friday against Oakland City.
Nickole Gonser, Fr., Indianapolis — Had 10 points on Friday against Oakland City.
Randy Lientz, Fr., Lake Land — Has not played this year.
Mitch Stahl, Fr., Lake Land — Averaging 2.0 points per game.
Rodney Watson, head men’s coach, Southern Indiana — Has coached team to 3-0 record.
Emily Maggert, Jr., Ball State — Has played in all five games for the 2-3 Cardinals, starting four. Leads team in scoring at 15.2 and in rebounding at 11.0.
Chase Brinkley, Fr., Olney Central — Averaging 6.6 points per game.
Stephen Jones, Fr., St. Louis Christian College — No information available.
R.J. Mahurin, Fr., Indiana State — Sitting out season as a redshirt.
Josh Reed, Fr., Lincoln Trail — Averaging 2.3 points and 2.0 rebounds per game.
Jared Rehmel, Jr., Central Arkansas — Third on team in scoring at 8.2 points per game, has started all five games for 1-4 Bears.
Jessica Canary, Sr., Indianapolis — Ranks third on team in scoring at 12.3 and first in rebounding at 6.5 per game.
Leeah Butts, Fr., Trine — Has not played this season.
Louie Gudino, men’s ass’t coach, Indiana State — Has helped coach team to 4-2 record.
Jenni McLeish, So., Lake Land — Averaging 3.0 points and 1.0 rebounds per game.
Terre Haute North
John Grimes (Gerstmeyer H.S), men’s head coach, Marian — Has coached team to 3-3 record.
Clint Weddle, women’s ass’t coach, Indiana State — Has helped coach team to 4-0 record.
Nate Blank, Jr., Indianapolis — Has started all four games for the 2-2 Greyhounds, ranking fourth on team in scoring at 11.8 and second in rebounds at 5.0.
Samantha Meissel, Jr., Indianapolis — Leads 4-0 Greyhounds in scoring at 23.8 points per game and is third in rebounding at 3.8.
Molly Martin, Jr., Hanover — Named the Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference's women's basketball player of the week for the period ended Nov. 22 after averaging 25.0 points and 9.5 rebounds to help Hanover open the season with two victories in its Sodexo Classic.
Zach Harrison, Fr., Ball State — Made his collegiate debut on Tuesday, playing one minute against Temple.
Terre Haute South
Jim Shaw, men’s head coach, Rose-Hulman — Has coached team to 2-2 record.
David Conrady, men’s associate head coach, Tennessee-Chattanooga — Has helped coach team to 2-3 record.
Melanie Boeglin, women’s ass’t coach, Indiana State — Has helped coach team to 4-0 record.
Jay Smith, Sr., Eastern Illinois — Averaging 4.5 points and 2.3 rebounds per game.
Brooke Daugherty, Jr., Indiana-South Bend — Has not played this season.
Armon Bassett, Jr., Ohio — Was expected to make season debut on Saturday after becoming eligible following transfer from UAB.
Zach Odum, So., Wabash Valley — Has not played this season.
Spencer Harlan, So., Rose-Hulman — Leads team in scoring at 12.5 points per game and in rebounding at 6.0.
Megan Craft, So., Vincennes — Averaging 7.6 points and 1.7 rebounds for 10th-ranked Lady Trailblazers.
Dragana Grbic, Fr., Butler — Has not played yet this season.
Randa Rector, Fr., Vincennes — Averaging 2.9 points and 1.1 rebounds for 10th-ranked Lady Trailblazers.
Tessa Johnson, Fr., Lincoln Trail — Ranks second on team in scoring at 14.3 points per game.
Jake Odum, Fr., Indiana State — Sitting out season as a redshirt.
Krista Smith, Fr., Indiana State — Has played in two games for the 4-0 Sycamores, averaging 2.0 points per game.
Ian McIntyre, Fr., Lincoln Trail — Averaging 2.3 points and 1.1 rebounds per game.
Meghan Doss, Fr., Vincennes — Averaging 2.7 points and 0.3 rebounds per game for the 10th-ranked Lady Trailblazers.
Colin Brown, Fr., Franklin — Has played in one game for the 1-2 Grizzlies and has not scored.
White River Valley
Matthew Graves, men’s ass’t coach, Butler — Has helped coach Bulldogs to 4-1 record, including win over UCLA on Friday night.