NASHVILLE, Tenn. – The Tennessee State softball team has added five players during the early signing period. Head coach Jeff Dabney signed two local talents, one from Indiana and two from the third ranked softball team in the country from California to National Letters of Intent.
“We have gotten better and more polished with each class,” said Dabney. “This 2014 class could be the turning point. I was hoping it would happen a little earlier, but this year I felt we made major inroads to the major travel teams. Two of these kids are coming from one of the Top-5 organizations in the country.”
Danielle Munoz (La Puente, Calif.) and Kailey Richard (Highland, Calif.) are members of the Corona Angels, who finished third in the 2013 US Softball National Club Rankings, will join local products Cariona Hassell (Nashville, Tenn.) and Dallas Richards (Spring Hill, Tenn.) along with Cameron Anderson (Indianapolis, Ind.) as part of the TSU class of 2018.
“As a whole, this is an offensive based group,” Dabney said. “They are athletic, but there is a lot of pop in this class. We are looking for a team who can score. By the time it is all said and done, this group will have contributed to our goal.”
IF, Nashville, Tenn., Goodpasture HS/Nashville Nighthawks
Hassell enters her fourth season of play for Lee Phillips at GHS. She has a career .455 average with 12 home runs and 99 RBI. Hassell helped her team to a Tennessee I-AA State Championship as a freshman and finished as the runner-up and her next two seasons. As a junior, Hassell was named to the AA All-State team and 9AA All-District Player of the Year. She also earned the Goodpasture Golden Glove award for the second consecutive year. The Nashville native was named to the All-District team as a sophomore and was awarded the GHS HEART Award as a freshman.
Hassell is a well-rounded athlete spending a season on the volleyball team as a freshman and three years as a member of the basketball squad. In her freshman campaign, Hassell has been named GHS MVP in all three seasons, as well as earning a spot on the All-District team. As a junior, Hassell was honored as the District 9AA Player of the Year. The duel athlete surpassed the 1,000 point mark during her sophomore season.
Hassell is a part of Fellowship of Christian Athletes at Goodpasture and volunteers at Madison Middle literacy program. She intends to study Kinesiology at TSU.
Coach Dabney on Hassell
“Cariona is a big local find for us, she is an All-State kid who has a big bat and is athletic. Her mother is a TSU alum, so she has been bleeding blue since the day she was born. Having someone with her abilities come in to this program is big for us, especially her being a local kid. You always want to keep the best kids from your area at home and I think we got one of the best.”
C/IF, La Puente, Calif., St. Paul HS/Corona Angels
Munoz is a four-year letter-winner for Jim Maier at St. Paul HS and has guided her team to back-to-back Del Rey League Runner-up finishes. Munoz carries a career .349 average with 13 doubles, five triples, five home runs and 41 RBI. Behind the plate she has amassed a .983 fielding percentage and has thrown out 89% of potential base stealers. She is three-time All-Del Rey League selection and was named DRL Rookie of the Year as a freshman. Munoz was voted Defensive Player of the Year as a junior and earned a spot on the Whittier Daily News All-Area team.
Munoz plays for Marty Tyson and the Corona Angels and posted a.377 average with nine home runs and 35 RBI. Munoz is a three-time Scholar Athlete who also played one year of basketball at SPHS. She will pursue a degree in Healthcare Planning and Administration in hopes to obtain a profession in optometry.
Coach Dabney on Munoz
“Dani is another great kid with great academics and a great personality. She has a big bat and works hard at her craft. I am looking forward to seeing just how good of a player she will become. She is one of the kids from the west coast we have been really working on getting here for a while. She is a great find for this program.”
Utility, Highland, Calif., Citrus Valley HS/Corona Angels
Richard is a four-time letter winner for April Finazzo at CVH where she hit .453. She has a member of the four-time Mountain Valley League Champions and CIF Division 5 Champions. Richard has been selected First Team All-League in her sophomore and junior seasons and earned a spot on the All-Redlands team in 2013.
Richard, along with Munoz, is a member of the Corona Angels under the direction of Tyson, Dena Tyson and Kimbo Howard. The Angels claimed the Triple Crown national Championship in 2013. Richard is a two-year member of the 4H Club and the Best Buddies Club. Her intention is to participate in the Pre-Veterinarian program.
Coach Dabney on Richard
“Kaley is the initial person I spotted with the Angels. I saw her three years ago and the kid does nothing but hit. Every time I would go watch, she’d hit. I was wondering if it was something she did just when I was there or if she hit all the time. She is just a flat out hitter. She comes from a great family and I love her potential at the plate at the collegiate level. I can’t wait to see how she develops over her time here. She has a great personality and I am eager to get her on campus and throw her into the mix.”
Utility, Spring Hill, Tenn., Summit HS/Tennessee Xplosion
Richards will play her final season for Amanda Potts at SHS. The Spring Hill product hit .450 as a member of the Independence High School team, which claimed three consecutive second place finishes in districts. Richards is an All-District selection during her sophomore and junior seasons.
Richards was perfect in stolen bases in 2013 and batted .375 for the Tennessee Xplosion coached by Mark Thurman and Brian Drake. Off the field, Richards is Vice President for Best Buddies and served with the United Way. She is a member of the National Honor Society, Youth Leadership, Special Olympics and Girls Cotillion.
Coach Dabney on Richards
“We have had our eye on Dallas for a long time and I have enjoyed watching her play. She is athletic and can do multiple things. Dallas is extremely competitive with a great work ethic and a great attitude. She is the type of kid we want in this program. I would take nine of her.”
C/1B, Indianapolis, Ind., Ben Davis HS/Team Indiana
Anderson is two-year letter winner for Demetrius Dowler at BDHS where she hit .280 as a junior. During travel ball, she earned a bid to the PGF National Championships with a first place finish at a regional qualifier as a part of Brandy Brown’s Team Indiana. Anderson intends to major in Business.
Coach Dabney on Anderson
“Cameron has potential at the plate and will definitely be in the mix when she gets here. She is coming off of a foot injury so we are looking for her to get back into playing shape. We have had her in camp and she is one of those who, regardless if she is playing softball or not, wants to come to TSU. That says a lot about the kid. She loves this university and she wants to be a part of this program. We are looking to see what she will bring to our program. ”
Dabney’s fourth recruiting class will fill the void of graduating seniors Ashley Haynes and Olivia Gamache. The Tigers will sport just three seniors in 2014-15.
“We are finally at a point where we are able to really bring in quality athletes who understand the game and understand how to play at a high level,” Dabney commented. “In order to compete in the OVC we have to have the people who understand how to win championships. These kids understand.”