The early falcon gets the recruits.
Getting the jump on the competition, East Central College signed seven recruits for the 2015 college softball season Saturday, Jan. 18.
Signing for Head Coach Brad Wallach were:
• Arlena Armstrong of Lebanon;
• Anna Feeler of Rolla;
• Shelby Friend of Newburg;
• Jennah Garrison of Warrenton;
• Kaitlyn Grills of Winfield;
• Dayla Gruenloh of Owensville; and
• Lilli-Anne Mantle of Washington.
“Overall we’re extremely pleased to announce another excellent recruiting class,” Wallach said. “It’s a combination of versatile athletes who take education seriously, can create competition, win starting spots, and will make an impact right away. We try to recruit locally as much as possible but at the same time, we’ve made a name down Interstate 44, Highway 50, and Interstate 70. We’re going to get it done one way or another.”
One common thread among the recruits seems to be strong academics. Most indicated they had made the honor role or higher during their high school years.
Coming from the same school which contributed standout Brooke Brenton a couple of seasons ago, Armstrong is a shortstop and outfielder who batted .329 during the 2013 high school season. She hit seven doubles and one home run while scoring 26 times and driving in 23. She stole seven bases.
At ECC, Armstrong hopes to major in physical education.
At Lebanon, she made all-conference and all-district first teams and the all-region second team.
She led the team in stolen bases and runs while being named the best defensive player.
“Arlena is an excellent athlete capable of making big plays in the outfield or at shortstop,” Wallach said. “I saw her throw out runners at second base and home plate as a sophomore in left field. This past season I saw her put together a highlight reel game at shortstop against Rolla”
A Rolla High School senior from Edgar Springs, Feeler hit .494 with 12 doubles, four home runs, 24 runs and 28 RBIs last fall for the Lady Bulldogs. She plays catcher, shortstop, third base and right field.
Her honors include being named Ozark Conference player of the year, team MVP, all-conference and all-district first team and all-region second team.
Feeler hopes to major in English. She plays in the summer for the Worth Prospects.
“We will be looking at Anna to anchor us down at catcher although she has the ability and experience to play several positions if needed,” Wallach said. “She swings a big bat and is the second Ozark Conference Player of the Year we’ve landed since I started here.”
The Newburg High School senior, who pitches and plays outfield, hopes to major in biology at ECC.
Friend was a Class 1 all-state second-team pick while earning all-conference, all-district and all-region honors during all four seasons.
During the 2013 season, she hit .545 with 13 doubles, eight triples, five home runs, 33 runs, 24 RBIs and 15 stolen bases.
As a pitcher, she went 17-3 with a 0.99 ERA. Over 119.2 innings, she allowed 67 hits and 30 walks while striking out 188 batters.
She plays summer ball for the Mid-Missouri Evolution.
“Shelby primarily pitched at Newburg but can also play outfield,” Wallach said. “What impressed me most about Shelby was her competitive nature on the field. That and her ability to drive the ball will be will be attributes for us next year.”
Garrison is the latest player to make the trek down Highway 47 from Warrenton to play for the Falcons. She hopes to major in biology at ECC.
Garrison pitches and plays first base.
In 2013 for Warrenton, she hit .446 with four doubles, one triple and eight home runs while driving in 35 runs.
As a pitcher, she went 14-1 with a 2.07 ERA. She walked 13 and struck out 79 over 108.1 innings.
For her work she was named the GAC North player of the year and made the all-state, all-conference, all-district and all-region teams.
Her other honors include making the St. Louis Post-Dispatch All-Metro team in 2013. She was a two-time conference player of the year and made the all-conference squad three times. She was on the all-district team in each of her four seasons.
“Jennah has been a key part of the Warrenton program the past four years from the circle but has played a lot of first base in the summer,” Wallach said. “Her offensive numbers and pitching stats speak for themselves.”
A bigger story on Garrison will appear in our sibling publication, The Warren County Record.
A Foley resident, Grills plays middle infield and outfield for Winfield High School and the Missouri Ice club team.
She hopes to go into the OTA program at ECC.
During the 2013 high school season, she batted .469 with six doubles, three triples and three home runs. She scored 18 runs, drove in 17 and stole three bases.
She was on the GAC North all-conference first team, the all-district first team and the all-region first team last fall. In 2012, she helped Winfield win a district championship.
“Kaity was a late find for us and a good one,” Wallach said. “She plays bigger than her physical size with good power offensively and will compete at the middle infield positions.”
A senior at Owensville, Gruenloh comes to the Falcons as a shortstop prospect.
With the Dutchgirls, Gruenloh hit .302 with 14 doubles and two triples. She scored 53 times, drove in 41 and stole 12 bases.
She plays her summer ball with the Missouri Revolution.
Gruenloh hopes to major in mathematics at ECC and brings a strong academic background. She ranks in the top 10 percent of the Owensville senior class with a 3.92 reported GPA. She is a member of National Honor Society and represented Owensville at the sophomore pilgrimage.
On the field, she was a four-year varsity player and was named the team’s offensive player of the year in 2011, defensive player of the year in 2012 and 2013 and made the Four Rivers Conference second team in 2011 and 2012.
“Dayla has caught in earlier years before settling in at shortstop,” Wallach said. “She was a huge part of Owensville’s offense last year, demonstrating gap power as a hitter. She will also be competing for a spot on the infield.”
Wallach went back to his Washington High School pipeline to recruit Mantle for next season’s team.
Hoping to major in nursing, Mantle was a three-year player for the Lady Jays. As a senior, she hit .227 with eight doubles and two triples. She scored 37 times, driving in 26 and stole 13 bases. Mantle showed she had a selective eye, walking 17 times to have a .305 on-base percentage.
Mantle, a middle infielder and outfielder, earned the team’s hustle award and was named to the GAC Central sportsmanship team.
During the summer, Mantle plays for the Lady Saints.
Neither the ECC volleyball nor soccer teams has confirmed any new signings. The volleyball team currently has three players signed for the fall while the soccer team has signed two, according to NJCAA.
“Lilli is another in the long line of Washington High School players who have helped us the past five seasons,” Wallach said. “A starter the past three seasons, and winner of WHS’s Hustle Award, Lilli will look to compete for a spot in the outfield right away. I expect her to do well at ECC.”
Mantle was profiled in a larger story in the Jan. 29 Missourian.