Western Nevada College softball coach Leah Wentworth is seeing both depth and versatility in her 2014 recruiting class. Among the 11 players who have signed letters of intent, seven can play multiple positions. And for the second straight season, Wentworth will welcome seven players with ties to Nevada.
“It’s a versatile group,” Wentworth said. “Some of the girls have power, some will give us speed on the bases; others will provide contact at the plate. We’ll have some speed on the bench that can come in to pinch-run for us, and some pinch-hitting versatility.”
The newcomers include Nevadans Kaysee Archer, Churchill County High School, Fallon; Makenzie Hospodka and Meghan Hospodka, Damonte Ranch High School, Reno; Katie Kluever, Douglas High School, Minden; Alyssa Stephens, Elko High School, Elko; Shannon Chapman, Silver Stage High School, Silver Springs; and Kindra Ryals, Spanish Springs High School, Sparks.
Complementing the local talent will be transfer Katelyn Bomar, a center fielder from Central Arizona College; pitcher Katilyn Covione of Concord, Calif.; pitcher/catcher Kylie Everill of Cottonwood Heights, Utah; and pitcher Rylee Coggins of Sandy, Utah.
After finishing the 2013 season with 11 healthy players, Wentworth is excited about the competition and depth the recruits will create — at least two players deep at every position. “It’s a good problem to have,” she said.
The Wildcats welcome back seven starters, including record-setting catcher Sydney Darby, pitcher Carlee Beck, second baseman Madison Gonzalez, outfielder Andrea Lee, shortstop Jennifer Rachel, third baseman Heather Septon, and designated hitter Caroline McCarthy.
However, sophomore Alisha Nielsen plans an 18-month hiatus for a religious mission and McCarthy is recovering from a fracture and torn tendons to her elbow.
Outfielder Cassie Bell will return after missing last season with a torn anterior cruciate ligament. The redshirt freshman is expected to stabilize the outfield and provide slap hitting from the left side of the plate.
Carlie Callahan, a member of Wentworth’s 2012 recruiting class, has rejoined the team as well, and Wentworth said she has five additional scholarships to consider.
A breakdown of the 2014 recruiting class includes the following:
• Kaysee Archer, second baseman, Churchill County High School, Fallon: Archer is from the state championship-winning program that produced current WNC shortstop Rechel and outfielder Bell. Wentworth said Archer is a contact hitter with excellent speed who could transition from infielder to outfielder. In 38 games for the state runner-up Greenwave, she hit .357 with 44 runs scored and 23 RBI. Archer delivered 10 doubles, two homers and two triples.
• Katelyn Bomar, outfielder, Central Arizona College: Bomar was an outfielder for Central Arizona last spring, hitting .343 and stealing 19 bases. She hit .429 for Kimball High School in Tracy, Calif., as a junior, and .500 with 40 runs scored as a senior. She was a member of the USA Elite Gold McFadden 18U team. “We’re looking for her to come into our conference and make an immediate impact,” coach Wentworth said. “She brings experience to our outfield.”
• Shannon Chapman, pitcher and third baseman, Silver Stage High School, Silver Springs: Chapman earned six wins on the mound and compiled a 1.49 earned run average in her final season at Silver Stage. She fanned 87 and allowed opponents to hit .171 in 150 2/3 innings. The three-year all-league and all-state performer originally signed a scholarship to attend Brown Mackie College in Salina, Kan., in 2011 but decided to take a break from softball. Her pitching assortment includes a fastball, knuckleball, changeup, rise, curveball, screwball and drop.
In tryouts with the Wildcats, Wentworth was impressed with the spin on her pitches. “She has more revolutions on her pitches than anyone we’ve had here. She’ll keep the hitters off balance,” the coach said
• Rylee Coggins, pitcher, Alta High School, Sandy, Utah: She is resuming her softball career after a year away from the game.
“I know how much it means to the kids that we’ve taken in the past, and they’ve given me everything they’ve had,” Wentworth said.
• Katilyn Covione, utility, Clayton Valley High School, Concord, Calif.: A versatile player who can pitch and play multiple infield positions as well as the outfield. She helped the Clayton Valley Eagles to a 22-4 record and the North Coast Section finals. As a senior, she hit .327 with four doubles, a homer and triple. She had a .403 on-base average and drove in 13 runs. In her six appearances in the circle, Covione had a 1-1 record and 0.76 ERA.
During the 2011 season, she finished among DVAL leaders with a .519 batting average and 1.34 ERA. She is a San Jose USA Elite Gold McFadden 18U team member.
• Kylie Everill, pitcher, catcher, first baseman, Brighton High School, Cottonwood Heights, Utah. She plays multiple positions and is capable of competing for playing time at any of her positions. The southpaw had a 7-10 record and 3.50 earned run average in 24 appearances as a senior. She struck out 210 and walked 48 in 122 innings. Everill had a .452 batting average with six doubles, three homers and a triple. She also had 18 RBI and scored 19 runs.
“She’s really strong at every position,” Wentworth said. “She pitched very well for them, and I’m looking for her to come in and help us out on the mound.”
• Makenzie Hospodka, third baseman and outfielder, Damonte Ranch High School, Reno: A power hitter who can play multiple positions, she provides flexibility in the lineup. Makenzie knocked in 11 runs and scored 16 times during her senior season at Damonte Ranch. In 31 games, she had an on-base average of .303 and smacked three doubles, a homer and triple. As a junior, she belted five triples and two home runs on a regional championship team.
• Meghan Hospodka, second baseman and shortstop, Damonte Ranch High School, Reno: The other half of the twin duo brings athleticism and the ability to play both middle infield positions. In 28 games for Damonte Ranch during her senior season, Meghan hit .284 with an on-base average of .356. She hit four doubles and a triple, and scoring 24 runs.
• Katie Kluever, second baseman and shortstop, Douglas High School, Minden: Wentworth expects the speedy middle infielder to put some pressure on holdover players for playing time. “She has about the same speed as Jenny,” Wentworth said. “We’re hoping she can have the same level of impact.”
The Division I Sierra League first-team infielder helped guide Douglas to a 23-12 record this past season. Kluever hit .385 and struck out only eight times in 104 at-bats. She executed three sacrifice bunts, stole seven bases and delivered nine extra-base hits.
Her grand slam was the difference in Douglas’ come-from-behind regional semifinal victory over Damonte Ranch.
• Kindra Ryals, pitcher, outfielder and first baseman, Sparks: A former summer ball pitcher who didn’t play in high school. Ryals has increased the velocity of her pitches, according to Wentworth, and is a quick base runner.
• Alyssa Stevens, first base, Elko High School, Elko: With last year’s first baseman Nielsen unavailable in 2014, the Wildcats will have an opening at the corner infield spot that they hope Stevens can fill. As a senior, Stevens batted .324 with five doubles, 14 RBI and 15 runs scored. Her numbers were nearly the same as a junior, when she hit .321 with four doubles and a homer, eight RBI and 19 runs scored.
“She’s a power hitter that we believe can grow at the plate,” Wentworth said.
Returning much of her 2013 team, when the Wildcats posted their first regional tournament victory, and with an infusion of new talent, Wentworth believes there are many reasons for optimism.
“The light bulb came on for this club at the regional tournament (this spring). They learned that they can compete and beat any of these teams if they play hard,” Wentworth said. “They are going to be a force to be reckoned with, and I really believe my team believes it.”