Central Connecticut softball Coach Jeff Franquet has announced the addition of six student-athletes for the Class of 2016. Brittany Ernst, Mackenzie Keyes, Evie Rentzel, Joiya Christine James, Kenya McVey and Hannah Cooper have all signed National Letters of Intent to play softball at Central Connecticut in the fall of 2012.
"The six recruits coming in next fall are good students, athletic, and have the drive to be the best," Franquet said. "It has been a pleasure dealing with them throughout the recruiting process - now it is time for them to come in ready to play and get after it."
Here is a closer look at the five incoming Blue Devils:
Brittany Ernst – OF – Mendon, MA
Played varsity softball for Nipmuc Regional High School where she earned first team All-Dual Valley Conference honors in 2010 and 2011. Following the 2010 season Ernst was the runner-up for the conference's most valuable player award. She also competed in soccer and indoor track at Nipmuc.
"Brittany Ernst is a little sparkplug that will ignite our offense at the plate or on the bases. We are looking forward to watching Brittany contribute to our team, and making an impact in the outfield," Franquet said. As the old saying goes it's not the size of the dog in the fight, but the size of the fight in the dog!"
Mackenzie Keyes – IF – Mechanicsville, VA
A three year varsity player at her high school, Keyes has earned All-District honors each season, including being named to the first team the past two years. After her junior year, she also received an All-Region selection. Off the field, Mackenzie is a three-time All-Academic selection .
"Mackenzie is very skilled in the infield. She is always around the game because of her father Paul being the head baseball coach at VCU. We are looking forward to watching Mackenzie compete for a spot next fall. Mackenzie brings an abundance of passion, knowledge, and the drive to be the best so she will fit in nicely with the Blue Devils."
Evie Rentzel – OF – Dillsburg, PA
Attended Northern High School where she has played every inning for the softball team the last three seasons. Evie has also earned All-State honors two times and Harrisburg Patriot News Big 11 honors twice. In addition she was selected as her team's most valuable player as both a freshman and junior.
"Evie Rentzel is an elite athlete that will make an immediate impact. She plays at the highest level in travel ball - the Newtown Rock Gold just finished 2nd in the ASA Gold National Championships. Evie has all the skills to be an impact player in the NEC."
Joiya Christine James – OF – Kingsland, GA
James has played varsity softball for three seasons at Camden County High School, during that time her team has won three straight Region 3 AAAAA Championships. In addition to her high school team, Joiya has been a standout for several AAU teams including the St. Mary's Lady Braves and the River City Rebels Gold.
"Joiya is an explosive player with a lot of raw talent. We will get Joiya in to our system hitting every day, lifting three days a week and she will be a great addition to our team. We are looking forward to watching Joiya play next fall."
Hannah Cooper – C – Bellefonte, PA
Cooper has helped led Bellefonte High School to three straight District Championships and a 2010 State Championship over the last three seasons. A three-time Mountain League All-Star, Hannah was named first team all-state following last season.
"Hannah will see catching time next year right away. She has a terrific arm behind the dish, and will hit for power offensively. Under the guidance of Coach Kristine Botto Drust, Hannah will blossom into a great catcher and we will see great things from her."
Kenya McVey – IF – Delaware City, DE
McVey has had a successful career at Hodgson Vo-Tech High School. She has earned all-district honors at second base, shortstop and third base. Last season she earned First Team All-State honors at shortstop and in 2010 Kenya was awarded the "Athlete of Promise" award from Delaware Woman's Alliance for Sports & Fitness.
"Kenya is very athletic and we expect her to make an immediate impact. We are losing Sarah Vlahos this year. Our shortstop that comes in must be able to play at a high level as a freshman. We truly believe Kenya has the ability, maturity, and desire to make an immediate impact and lead the infield."
The 2012 softball season will begin February 24, as the Blue Devils travel to 2011 National Champion Arizona State.