Columbia, Mo. - Missouri softball Head Coach Ehren Earleywine
announced today that five student-athletes have signed a National Letter of Intent to play for the Tigers in 2008. Megan Christopher (Wright City, Mo.), Marla Schweisberger (Raytown, Mo.), Lisa Simmons (Boonville, Mo.), Rhea Taylor (Buford, Ga.) and Abby Vock (Morrison, Ill.) will combine to make up next year's freshmen class.
"We are very excited about our five early signees," Earleywine said. "With six seniors graduating, it was important to sign a big class to fill that void. This class is very versatile and athletic and will compete for starting positions early on. All are good people, good students and come from good families. We welcome each player and their families into this program."
Christopher, a senior at Wright City High School R-2, is a catcher with the Wildcats softball team and holds a .434 batting average. A three-time all-conference and two-time all-state and district honoree, Christopher holds 10 school records including most home runs in a season (8) and in a career (15). Christopher is a three-sport athlete also competing on her high school women's basketball and track teams. Coached by Phil Burdett and Fred Ross, Christopher was named the Defensive Player of the Year in 2005 and 2006.
"With three catchers graduating this fall, we felt like it was important to get another good catching prospect from the 2007 class," Earleywine said. "Megan was an in state prospect with good size, and very good catch and throw ability. Power potential is there offensively and will reveal itself in time."
A Wendy's High School Heismann State Nominee, Schweisberger is a four time all-conference, three time all-district and two time all-area honoree and attends Raytown South High School in Raytown, Mo. Schweisberger, a two-time captain, is a four-year starter at catcher and earned 2005 United States Slow Pitch Softball Association (USSSA) All-State honors while holding a .400 batting average and .750 slugging percentage. A two-sport athlete and three-year starter for her soccer team, Schweisberger is a three-year member of the National Honor Society.
"Marla is a very versatile player who can play almost anywhere," Earleywine said. "Unlike many utility players, she has above average power at the plate....something we have a need for since many of the graduating seniors hit for power. In just the few times I've seen her play, I really like her poise and consistency. She never gets too high or low, just plays the game and plays it very well. "
A senior at Boonville High School, Simmons served as the Lady Pirates starting pitcher for three years and catcher as a freshman in 2003. Simmons raced up the Boonville record books after breaking the school strikeout record in a season (226), win record in a season (21), strikeout record in a career (459), wins in a career (47) and best pitching record in a career (47-24). Simmons is a three time all-conference, all-district and all-region recipient and was named the Most Valuable Player of the Missouri River Valley Conference as a senior.
"Lisa was committed to MU before my arrival and I have not had the chance to see her play," Earleywine said. "I do know that she is a left handed hitter that hits for average and some power. Although she was the primary pitcher for her high school team, she will spend most of her time in the outfield and some at first base. I like the fact that she hits from the left side as we are right handed hitter heavy at this time."
Taylor, a senior at Peachtree Ridge High School helped take her team to the final four of the 2006 state softball tournament and owns a .352 batting average with 37 stolen bases, seven coming in one game. A member of the Georgia Spoilers summerball league, Taylor and her team have claimed three Independent Softball Association (ISA) World Series Championship titles in addition to being named Southern Nationals World Series, and five time state champions. An outfielder with the Brownsmill Lady Jackets during the summer of 2006, Taylor and her team advanced to their sixth consecutive RBI World Series Championship and ranked 13th out of nearly 140 teams at the Amateur Softball Association (ASA)
Nationals. Taylor is a two-time all-county first team honoree and was named Most Valuable Offensive Player as a junior and senior. A three-sport athlete, Taylor is a member of the Lions' varsity basketball and track and field teams.
"Rhea is a left handed hitting outfielder that runs extremely well. She has tremendous athletic ability and unlimited potential," Earleywine said. "She is a short gamer predominantly, but we will work hard at strengthening her ability to swing away. At 5-10, with a muscular frame, we feel like at some point she can be a true triple threat with bunt, slap and hit for power."
Missouri's fifth and final signee, Vock, is utility player/infielder from Morrison, Ill. With a .401 batting average and .446 on base percentage, Vock helped the Fillies to back-to-back Illinois High School Association (IHSA) Regional and Conference titles in 2004 and 2005. A member of the Quad City Thunder summerball team, Vock and her team finished second at the ASA Northern Nationals in 2004. Vock is younger sister to current Missouri freshman infielder, Michaele Vock.
"Abby is another player that had formerly committed to MU before my arrival," Earleywine said. "I know she primarily plays infield, but is very versatile. Her sister; Michaele Vock is currently a freshman on the team here at MU. "