BALTIMORE – UMBC head softball coach Joe French has announced the addition of five players, who will join the Retrievers for the 2014-15 academic year; Tori Alexander (Woodbridge, Va./Woodbridge Senior), Haley DeLany (Harleysville, Pa./Souderton Area), Carly Lesko (New Milford, N.J./New Milford), Kim Puccio (Sparta, N.J./Sparta) and Toni Santonastasso (Galena, Ohio/Pope John XXIII Regional).
"We were looking to bolster our left-handed hitting, middle infield, corner infield, corner outfield, pitching and power hitting," French said. "We added a good arm to our pitching staff and added depth and left-handed hitting to our middle infield. We also added power on the corner infield and outfield positions, as well as adding speed to the infield and depth throughout our lineup.
"These student-athletes will enhance our program right away and give us the depth and firepower to compete for an America East Championship," continued French. "With our strong recruiting classes recently, we will be a strong contender for years to come."
Woodbridge, Va./Woodbridge Senior
A three-time All-District First Team honoree at Woodbridge Senior High School… Has batted over .500 for her career with the Vikings… Second Team All-Region in 2011… An All-State Honorable Mention in 2013 after helping Woodbridge Senior to regionals… An All-Region Honorable Mention as a sophomore… Played club ball for the Virginia Glory Gold… Mother Terri played softball at Miami of Ohio.
French on Alexander: "Tori is a left-handed hitter who can play shortstop and almost any position on the field. She has one of the strongest arms that you will find in a position player. She has line drive power and can hit the ball to all fields. She also slaps and quick bunts to be a triple threat player. She has always been a top of the order hitter who can steal bases and take the extra base. She has terrific soft hands and a quick transfer on her throwing release."
Harleysville, Pa./Souderton Area
Helped Souderton Area High School to a fourth place finish in the AAAA States in 2011… Selected for the Phillies' Carpenter Cup Team… Named to the Suburban One All-League First Team as a sophomore and Second Team as a junior… An All-Intelligencer First Team honoree as a first baseman in 2012 and a Suburban One All-League selection as a designated player in 2011… Competes with the Harleysville Thunderbirds' Elite club team in Pennsylvania… A member of the Principal's Student Advisory Council and the Student Council… Participates with Students Against Violating the Earth (SAVE)… Father Ernie was a two-sport athlete in college.
French on DeLany: "Haley is another left-handed hitter and who can play first base and right field. She has great hands, a very good arm and hits the ball hard. She has the ability to hit to all fields, with extra base power. She has been an all-star at every level in her career and comes from a very athletic family."
Galena, Ohio/Pope John XXIII Regional
Played at both Pope John XXIII Regional High School and Olentangy Orange High School during her high school career… Helped Pope John XXIII Regional to a Hunderton Warren Sussex county championship… A three-time New Jersey Athletic Conference All-Conference First Team selection… Named to the NJAC All-Academic Team as a junior… Named the team's MVP as a junior… Played club ball for the New Jersey Rampage Gold 18U team… An honor roll student.
French on Santonastasso: "A right-handed power hitter and left-handed glove. Toni has terrific hands and one of the best stretches I've ever seen at first base. She will provide both extra base power and a high batting average. She has played at a very high level of travel ball the past three years. She should become a core middle of the order impact hitter producing many RBI."
New Milford, N.J./New Milford
Helped New Milford High School to the group one sectional final and post the most victories in school history during her junior campaign… A part of the Lady Knights' team that upset the No. 4 seed in the first round of the county tournament, marking the biggest upset in Bergen County Softball Tournament history… A three-time All-League First Team honoree… An All Bergen County First Team selection and an All-North Jersey First Team recipient… Also lettered in basketball and volleyball at New Milford High School… A three-time All-League First Team selection and All-County Honorable Mention for both basketball and volleyball… Named an All-County Honorable Mention as a freshman and sophomore… A National Honor Society and Spanish Honor Society member… An honor roll student… Played club ball most recently for the East Coast Elite Gold… Father Joseph played basketball at Upsala College.
French on Lesko: "A right-handed hitter and right-handed glove with a very strong throwing arm. Carly has played virtually all of the positions on the field and is the type of player who can fill a hole anywhere. She has tremendous home run power and extra base power but can also steal a base and hit for average. Carly is a super athlete who is very gifted and will make an impact for years to come."
A member of Sparta High School softball team, a squad that has consistently been a state playoffs participant… Named Player of the Week during the 2012 campaign by the New Jersey Herald… Compiled a 43-8 record, while striking out 425 batters in 344 innings with a 1.33 ERA as a pitcher for the New Jersey Rampage club team… A member of the National Russian Language Honor Society… A high honor roll student.
French on Puccio: "A right-handed power arm pitcher who will provide depth to our rotation. Kim throws 60-62 mph and has all the spin pitches. She also fields the position extremely well and has a good throwing arm. We expect Kim to enhance our staff right away and develop into the type of pitcher who can get hitters out in a variety of ways. Teaming up with our current returning pitchers, this will be the deepest staff we've had in recent years."
French on the class: "We feel that these five young ladies were the right fit for our squad. They all come from high quality winning travel ball organizations that play at the highest level of competition, so we faced numerous top schools in the recruiting process in signing these players. They combined a mix of the things we were looking for in the fall signing class. We also liked that they all wanted to be UMBC Retrievers and are very good student-athletes."
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