DEFENDING OVC SOFTBALL CHAMPIONS, UT MARTIN, RELOADS WITH SEVEN SIGNEES
November 21, 2012
MARTIN, Tenn. -- Donley Canary, the head softball coach at The University of Tennessee at Martin, knows he must have talented players in order to win. With three conference championships tucked away over the past four years, Canary feels that his seven-player 2013 recruiting class will help keep the Skyhawk Softball program at the top of the Ohio Valley Conference board in the coming years.
Highlighting the class are three strong, right-handed pitchers from California, Missouri and Tennessee. Sprinkle in speed and power from California, Wisconsin and Tennessee and you have the right combination for program success. Canary makes no bones about it and strongly feels that this is the best recruiting class that UT Martin Softball has ever enjoyed.
“During my 12-year tenure at UT Martin, we have never brought in a stronger recruiting class,” Canary said. “We feel that we addressed all of our immediate needs in the future. It might take a while to get these young players going in the right direction, but they have the athletic and academic ability to take this program to another level. It is a group of student-athletes that decided to attend this university over a year ago and held firm in their commitment to the program.
“I am extremely excited about coaching these young ladies over the next four years of their careers here at UT Martin,” Canary said. “It will be interesting to see what accomplishments this group of recruits can achieve.”
The Skyhawks needed to solidify their future in the circle with the 2013 recruiting class. With the addition of Brooke Kennedy; Bath Springs, Tenn., Tayler Jerrick; Anaheim, Calif., and Elizabeth Wiegand; Moscow Mills, Mo., the Skyhawks addressed those long term needs.
“This is the most talented group of pitchers we have ever signed,” Canary said. “They all have had tremendous success at the high school and travel ball levels.
Tayler Jerrick is a right-handed pitcher and first baseman from John F. Kennedy High School in Anaheim, Calif. She is the daughter of Steve and Karen Jerrick.
Tayler has extensive travel ball experience playing with the California Worth Firecrackers organization, the Southern California Wicked team and the Artesia Punishers. She has helped her high school program to back-to-back CIF appearances in both her sophomore and junior seasons.
“Tayler has a great upside and consistently throws in the low sixties with good movement,” Canary said. “She moves the ball in and out well. She plays in one of the top travel ball organizations in the country. She is experienced.
“Tayler can also hit and we see her playing some in the outfield, serving as a designated player and challenging for playing time at first. She can do a lot of different things for our team when she is not in the circle.
She plans to major in biology.
Brooke Kennedy prepped at Riverside High in nearby Decaturville. She is the daughter of Mark and Terri Kennedy. Brooke helped lead Riverside High School to a state softball championship in 2011 and a runner up finish in 2012. She was a second team All-West Tennessee selection as a freshman and secured first-team all-state player honors as both a sophomore and junior.
“Brooke brings a strong presence to the circle for us,” Canary said. “She throws hard and is developing her other pitches. Her future is bright with her continued development as a pitcher. Moreover, Brooke brings a strong left-handed bat to our lineup. She can hit for both average and power. We see her challenging for playing time immediately at first base and in the designated player role when not pitching. The sky is the limit for Brooke. It is just a question of how hard is she willing to work to achieve success.”
Brooke plans to major in either in special education or occupational therapy.
Elizabeth Wiegand hails from Moscow Mills, Mo., and attends Troy Buchanan High School. She is the daughter of Bill and Kathy Wiegand. Elizabeth is a two-time, Missouri All-State pitching selection. She led her school to the Missouri large school championship in 2011 and a regional berth in 2012.
“Elizabeth can be a very special pitcher at our level,” Canary said. “She is battle tested at both the high school and travel ball levels. She has thrown against top competition throughout her career. We have worked with Elizabeth at our camps over the past couple of years. She has an outstanding curve, screwball and drop. Her work ethic on and off the field is second to none. She has the build and ability to be a dominant pitcher at our level. We expect Elizabeth to step into a starting role in our pitching staff rotation.” Elizabeth will pursuit a degree in business at UT Martin.
The first of four position players signed by the Skyhawk coaching staff is Gabby Glenn. She hails from Covington and is the daughter of Chuck and Donna Glenn. Gabby will join her sister, Autumn, who is already a member of the Skyhawk softball team. She is a three-time all- district selection and a member of Memphis All-Metro team.
“Gabby’s best softball is ahead of her. In college she will concentrate on improving her softball skills on a daily basis,” Canary said. “She is a very talented athlete that can play a variety of positions. We will have to determine whether to put her in the infield or outfield. She has a great arm and throws across the infield at 67 miles per hour. We have no one that throws harder on our team. She can also pitch and we may use her in a closer role. She can hit for average and power as a batter. She will compete for immediate playing time.”
Gabby is interested in studying medicine/biology.
Renate Meckl comes to the Skyhawk softball program from Oconomowoc, Wis. She is the daughter of Andy and Cindy Meckl. Renate is a highly decorated player achieving all-area, all-district and all-conference honors while participating in softball at Oconomowoc High School.
A two-sport athlete, Renate is a two-time Offensive and Defensive Player of the Year. “Renate Meckl is an outstanding young catcher,” Canary said. “As a matter of fact, I have not seen a better young catcher in the country than Renate. She takes charge of the game when behind the plate. She is a bundle of energy and a true team leader. She blocks and throws well. She is the complete package as a catcher. As a hitter, Renate can stroke it. She hits with power. We are extremely fortunate as a program to have her abroad.”
Renate, a member of the National Honor Society, will major in either engineering or biology.
Taylor Manning attends Lakewood High School in Long Beach, Calif. She is the daughter of Darin and Roberta Manning. Taylor is a three-year starter on the nationally recognized Lakewood High School softball team. She has been recognized as a two-time All-Moore League selection, Offensive Player of the Year and recipient of the coaches award.
“Taylor will have an immediate impact on our program. She can play third, second or any of the outfield positions at the Division I level,” Canary said. “We will probably look at her first in the outfield. She comes from an outstanding high school. They were nationally ranked last year. Taylor reminds me very much of former Skyhawk player Megan VanArsdale that also hailed from California. Taylor is steady. She is a heady softball player. She doesn’t get excited or panic. She just plays and lets the game come to her. That is impressive to a coach. She swings it well. The opportunity to play early is there for her.
A strong student Taylor will major in education.
Bella Zizzi is from Cross Plains, and is the daughter of Bill Zizzi and Kim Crockett. She attends East Robertson High School and is a multi-sport athlete receiving recognition in volleyball, basketball and softball.
In softball, Bella is an all-district, all-county and all-state selection. She is a two-time recipient of the Offensive Player of the Year Award.
“Bella is the fastest player to don a Skyhawk softball uniform. However, she must learn how to steal bases and not just run the bases,” Canary said. “We see her as both a second baseman and a left fielder. She can really energize our lineup. She is a slapper that puts a tremendous amount of pressure on a defense. One false step or bobble and she is on. Bella will develop quickly as she concentrates on softball only in college. She has a bright future.”
A member of the National Honor Society, Bella is undecided in her educational major at this time.