EVANSVILLE, IN (WFIE) - University of Southern Indiana Softball Head Coach Sue Kunkle announced that eight student athletes have signed national letters of intent during the early signing period to compete for the Screaming Eagles in 2019.
That class includes freshman pitcher/first baseman Katie Back (Indianapolis, Indiana), freshman infielder/catcher Mary Bean (Schaumburg, Illinois), freshman first baseman/pitcher Elissa Brown (Brownsburg, Indiana), freshman outfielder Mikaela Domico (Naperville, Illinois), junior infielder/pitcher Megan Eder (Indianapolis, Indiana), freshman pitcher Elly Hagen (Lockport, Illinois), freshman utility player Kat Mueller (Evansville, Indiana) and freshman catcher Courtney Schoolcraft (Crest Hill, Illinois).
"We are thrilled with this group of recruits," Kunkle said. They are talented, versatile and fit our style of play. Looking at this year and next year's graduating class, we knew that this would (need to) be a bigger class."
Back is currently a senior at Franklin Central High School (Indianapolis) where she has earned varsity letters in softball and volleyball. An All-County and All-Conference honoree, Back hit .476 with three home runs, 10 doubles and 24 RBIs as a junior in 2017.
In the circle, Back was 16-7 with a 3.17 ERA in 2017. Her efforts throughout the last two years have helped FCHS to a pair of county championships as well as conference, sectional and regional titles in 2016.
"Katie has a lot of power, not only in the circle but at the plate," Kunkle said. "She has put up strong offensive numbers and brings a lot of power to our offensive lineup. In the circle, Katie has great velocity and command of her pitches to be successful. She is strong and hardworking and we expect big things from her."
Bean is currently a senior at Hoffman Estates High School (Hoffman Estates, Illinois) where she has earned varsity letters in basketball, softball and volleyball. A two-time Illinois High School Association (IHSA) Scholar Athlete Award winner, Hoffman earned All-Conference and All-Area as a junior in 2017 after being named HEHS's most valuable player.
Bean hit .410 with 23 runs scored, 13 stolen bases, four home runs, five doubles and three triples from the leadoff spot in 2017. She also earned the team's "Gold Glove" award.
"Mary plays the game the way it should be played," Kunkle said. "She plays hard with a lot of speed and versatility. She brings great glove work to our infield and behind the plate; and has great range and an aggressive style of play that we loved about her! Offensively, Mary will make things happen at the plate and on the bases."
Brown is a currently a senior at Brownsburg High School where she has earned varsity letters in softball and volleyball. Brown earned All-Conference honors as a sophomore in 2016 and was All-County as a junior in 2017 after hitting .324 with seven doubles, a home run and 11 RBIs.
Brown helped her travel ball team, the Indiana Prospects, to a third-place finish at the 2015 Triple Crown Southeast Nationals as well as a fifth-place finish at the 2017 USA Elite Nationals.
"Elissa is a player that gives us depth, both in the field and the circle." Kunkle said. "She has a lot of power from the left side of the plate, which gives us a lot of options when constructing our lineup."
Domico is currently a senior at Neuqua Valley High School in Naperville, Illinois, where she earned All-Conference honors as a junior in 2017. During her junior year, Domico hit .390 with four doubles and 12 RBIs.
Domico helped her travel ball team to a national ranking of 50th in 2015-16 and has a career travel-ball batting average of .400.
"Mikaela has a nice swing and is a contact gap-to-gap hitter who will primarily work in the outfield for us," Kunkle said. "She has good range and can also help us in the infield."
Eder is currently a sophomore at Wabash Valley College in Mt. Carmel, Illinois, where she hit .371 with 23 doubles, four triples, four home runs and 53 RBIs as a freshman. Named to the NJCAA Division I Region 24 All-Tournament team, Eder also went 16-3 in the circle with a 1.77 ERA in 107.0 innings of work.
A graduate of Perry Meridian High School in Indianapolis, Eder was a three-time All-Conference and All-County honoree as well as an All-District performer and a second-team All-State award winner.
"Megan is a true definition of utility player as she has extremely good glove work in the infield and outfield and also is a seasoned pitcher," Kunkle explained. "Offensively, we are excited about the power she adds to our lineup. She has had a great career at Wabash Valley and we know she will come in ready to go."
Hagen is currently a senior at Lockport Township High School where she has earned varsity letters in softball. In 2017, Hagen helped lead LTHS to a regional title after posting an 11-1 record in the circle with a 2.53 ERA and 70 strikeouts.
A member of the Lockport Pride travel ball team, Hagen was recruited to play with Athletes International in Australia this past summer.
"Elly is a competitor in the circle," Kunkle said. She has great composer, good speed and command of her pitches. We expect her to develop into a huge contributor on our pitching staff and also give us depth in our infield."
Mueller is currently a senior at Mater Dei High School in Evansville, Indiana, where she has earned varsity letters in basketball, soccer and softball. A three-time All-City and two-time All-Metro performer, Mueller hit .417 as a sophomore in 2016, helping MDHS to the Indiana High School Athletic Association Class 2A championship.
A member of the Indiana Gators travel ball team, Mueller recorded a .349 batting average with nine doubles and 26 RBIs for MDHS as a junior in 2017.
"Kat is a hard worker who has improved tremendously throughout the last couple of years," Kunkle explained. "She is a consistent and scrappy hitter at the plate and can play several positions in the field. Kat has really developed in the outfield after spending a lot of time in the infield, so we look for her to work both areas at the collegiate level."
Schoolcraft also is a senior at Lockport Township High School where she hit .395 with 12 doubles, six home runs and 57 RBIs as a junior in 2017. Her efforts helped LTHS to a 32-5 overall record and the 2017 regional title.
Schoolcraft also was a teammate of Hagen on the Lockport Pride travel ball team.
"Courtney is a very good fundamental catcher with a great arm," Kunkle said. "She has a strong presence behind the plate that will be an asset to our defense. She also is a productive hitter that has power and swings for average."