The Massachusetts softball team will have an easier time competing for its 23rd Atlantic 10 Championship while making it back to the NCAA tournament next spring.
Along with the seven freshmen already set to make their debuts this spring for the Minutewomen, UMass coach Elaine Sortino announced the signing of five high school seniors’ National Letters of Intent on Monday in Quianna Diez-Patterson, Allison Kearney, Anna Kelly, Bridget Lemire and Mikayla Panko. Four players hail from Mass., while Panko will bring her talents to the Minutewomen from Illinois in 2015.
Diaz-Peterson, a shortstop and an Amherst native, throws right-handed and is a switch hitter that has excelled for Amherst Regional High School the past three seasons. Last season, she hit .500 with a .573 on-base percentage and was also named the Western Massachusetts Player of the Year by the Springfield Republican, first team All Scholastic by the Republican and Hampshire Gazette and was nominated for the Massachusetts Gatorade Player of the Year.
Kearney, an outfielder who has great speed and a strong bat, missed all but four games last season but has a .478 career batting average with 10 home runs and has not been caught stealing in 35 attempts.
Kelly, a third baseman from Norfolk, Mass. had 27 runs batted in, three home runs and had a .418 batting average in 2010.
Lemire is seen as a versatile player as a pitcher and an infielder and was the captain for St. Peter-Marian High School last season. She went 18-2 with a .95 earned-run average with 155 strikeouts.
Panko, the only out-of-state signee, plays outfield and tied the Benet Academy record for 39 RBI’s last year while posting a .368 batting average and a .632 slugging percentage.
David Brinch can be reached at email@example.com.