East Central College’s three sports teams have been busy restocking for the 2013-14 school year.
The Falcons have signed 13 players for the three sports. The softball team has signed six while the soccer Falcons have inked three and the volleyball team has signed four.
Of those, six are from area schools.
The defending NJCAA Division II Region 16 champion ECC softball Falcons signed six players on its annual winter signing day with a heavy influence of local talent.
The six will be eligible in the spring of 2014.
Inking for Brad Wallach’s team were:
• Washington’s Kaitlin Evans;
• Washington’s Rachel Micke;
• Washington’s Sarah Westhoff;
• New Haven’s Kierstin Monzyk;
• Timberland’s Elaine Schoenberger; and
• Salem’s Kaytlyn Wells.
More signing news is expected in the next couple of weeks.
Wallach said that the 2013 team has started practice.
“We started practice on the first day of classes (Jan. 14),” Wallach said. “The kids are busting it and we’re pretty excited right now.”
The team maintains heavy representation from Washington with Evans, Micke and Westhoff moving from the Lady Jays to the Falcons.
Evans has been honored by the Gateway Athletic Conference for her play and academic work. She plays third base and catcher and hopes to major in geology.
Evans plays summer ball for the Wildfire.
“Kaitlin primarily played third base in high school but can also catch, which fits what we look for — versatile players,” Wallach said. “She has gap power that I think will develop.”
Micke is a pitcher and first baseman who sees action for the Missouri Ice in the summer.
She has been honored on the field for sportsmanship and in the classroom for academic achievement in science and math. She hopes to major in biology.
“Rachel got serious about pitching a little later than some but has already put up good numbers her last two seasons at Washington,” Wallach said. “I like Rachel, not just because of what she can already do, but because of what I think her growth potential is as a pitcher.”
Westhoff was a four-year varsity player at Washington earning multiple team and conference awards on the field and in the classroom. She also plays first base and outfield when not pitching.
Westhoff plays for Legion of Doom in the summer and looks to major in special education.
“I coached against Sarah my last year at Eureka when she was a freshman at Washington,” Wallach said. “At the time, I was wondering, ‘Why can’t we hit this kid?’ After four years as the ace, her numbers show that she makes hitters hit her pitch or chase the ball out of the strike zone. That’s what pitchers are supposed to do.”
Monzyk, a New Haven senior, played center field for the Lady Shamrocks. She’s a multiple sport standout at New Haven and is undecided in her field of study.
“When I watched Julie Scheer pitch at New Haven as a senior, Kierstin caught my attention as a sophomore,” said Wallach. “She is an athletic outfielder with speed who posted good offensive statistics from the left side of the plate. We think she can develop even more from the left side and potentially be a leadoff hitter for us.”
Schoenberger hopes to major in accounting at ECC. She is an outfielder and has received GAC honors for her high school play and her academic work.
She plays summer ball for St. Louis Nemesis.
“Elaine is an outfielder with good speed who can track down gappers,” Wallach said. “Offensively, she uses the entire ballpark and is always looking for the extra base.”
Wells is a utility player from Salem High School who has earned major honors from the South Central Association. She was an all-conference player for all four years. She earned all-district honors three times and was the SCA player of the year in 2012.
Wells plays for a Salem team in the summer and hopes to major in exercise science.
“Kaytlyn is another versatile athlete who can play every position except pitch,” Wallach said. “Her size and strength enables her to hit the long ball.”
Kean Barclay feels he’s far ahead of last season’s pace in signing players.
Barclay, who was hired last winter, got a late start for 2012, has inked five players to start the 2013 signing season.
Signing with the Falcons so far are:
• Mount St. Mary’s (Okla). midfielder Albert Cantu III;
• Hannibal defender Clay Cunningham;
• Northwest forward Gino Bono;
• Quincy, Ill., midfielder Brett Stiles; and
• Quincy, Ill., midfielder Zakariae Merzouk.
As with softball, more news is expected in the upcoming weeks.
Cantu plays for Mount St. Mary’s High School in Moore, Okla., and the OFC 94 OK club team.
He was a four-year varsity player who has led his team in scoring and was named the school’s outstanding freshman.
“I chose East Central College because the environment was great for me,” Cantu said. “It what I was looking for.”
Cantu hopes to go into computer science.
Cunningham comes to the Falcons from Hannibal High School and the Quincy United club team, where he plays for the U18 Boys Black squad.
He made the Missouri State High School Soccer Coaches Association Class 2 all-state second team following his senior season last fall, helping the Pirates to a 21-6 record and 10th in the final state rankings.
Cunningham also has received conference, district and regional awards.
“I bought into what Coach (Barclay) was selling me when I came down here,” Cunningham said. “It was a perfect fit.”
Cunningham indicated he wants to play beyond ECC and wants to go into a career in a fire-related field or education. He hasn’t decided which one yet.
Bono made the MSHSSCA Class 3 second team as a forward this past season and also received conference, district and regional accolades.
Bono ranked second in the St. Louis area in scoring this season with 31 goals and 16 assists for 78 points. Six of his goals were game winners.
Bono has played club ball for WC St. Louis (formerly WC Arsenal) and Metro Strikers.
Bono indicated that fellow Northwest players have had good things to say about the ECC program and that helped to influence his decision.
“I like the coach,” Bono said. “He said he can help me go onto the next level. Also, it’s not far from the house. I can take that next step out of the house, go to school for free and play soccer. That’s a great feeling.”
Bono hopes to go into business and play beyond ECC.
More information on Stiles and Merzouk will appear in a future edition.
The 2012 season was a unique one for the ECC volleyball Falcons.
Fielding a team of all freshmen, the Falcons recorded the program’s only losing season since reinstatement in 2007, but still reached the NJCAA Division II District O championship match before falling to Northeastern Oklahoma A&M.
But Head Coach Lisa Mathes-Peters has taken steps to fix that situation. Two of her first four signings are area players. So far, the team has signed:
• Washington 6-0 middle-rightside hitter Hannah Leslie.
“Hannah will serve as a good block for us and has nice hands so I feel she will be fighting for the rightside position next fall,” Mathes-Peters said. “She does have the ability to play the middle-outside position as well which will provide some tough competition in that spot next fall.”
A separate story has been written about Leslie’s signing and is scheduled to appear in The Missourian.
• Pacific setter Abby Spuhl.
“She is a left handed setter who puts up a nice ball,” Mathes-Peters said. “She is used to running a 5-1 offense and I feel has a good floor presence with her team. She will be able to run a 5-1 or a 6-2 depending on which one we run.”
• Holt 5-6 defensive specialist Paige Mueller.
“Paige is quick on defense and plays a nice left back spot,” Mathes-Peters said. “She will contribute in the back row and fight for the libero or defensive specialist position.”
• Ft. Zumwalt North middle hitter Abby Toppmeyer.
“Abby will add some height (6-0) to our front row and will put up a nice block,” Mathes-Peters said. “She will also contribute to the team offensively once she develops multiple shots. I can’t wait to see how her play comes along at the college level.”
For the first time in two years, the team has scheduled a spring season. Mathes-Peters indicates matches will be April 6 at Maryville University and April 13 at Missouri S&T in Rolla. She said ECC is hoping to host someone, but a date and opponent have not been determined.
It is unknown how many of this year’s freshmen will be returning in 2013.