MSU softball sign four To 2011 class during early signing period

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The Murray State softball team has announced the signing of four student-athletes to the 2011 class. The Racers, who will play their first official games Feb. 26-28 at the Ole Miss Tournament, have added four players who are no strangers to competing and winning at a high level, with the signing of:

2011 Signing Class:
Leslie Bridges, Murphysboro, Ill. (Murphysboro)
Ali Hart, Bowling Green, Ky. (Greenwood)
Megan Sims, Owensboro, Ky. (Owensboro Catholic)
Madysen Wilton, Fenton, Mo. (Rockwood Summit)

“This is a great class for Murray State Softball,” said head coach Jay Pyron. “These four players bring a little bit of everything with them. We have some great students and people coming to join us. It has been a major priority of ours to recruit heavily in-state and in our region and this class reflects that mission.”

Bridges has been a key contributor for Murphysboro High School for the past three seasons, helping lead the team to three-consecutive Southern Illinois Rive-to-River Conference championships and a 2007 regional title. She earned SIRR All-Conference and All-Southern Illinois accolades in each of her three seasons with the Red Devils.

“I am really excited that Leslie chose to play for me here at Murray State,” Pyron said. “I have known about her for a long time and she brings a lot to the table. She can pitch, hit and play the field and her versatility is going to be a big plus for us. Leslie is a tremendous student and comes from a great family. She is a great example and a very well rounded individual and her teammates will love playing with her.”

Bridges has tallied 408 career strike outs and a 0.79 ERA, while garnering a 33-10 record in the circle for the Red Devils. She is also a strong hitter, with a .350 career hitting mark. She was named to the All-Illinois State team in 2009 and has been named the Red Devils MVP for the past three seasons. Bridges has also been a top player for the Southern Express travel team. She led the team to a fourth-place finish at both the 12-and-under and 14-and-under AFA Nationals.

“Leslie has all the tools to excel at the next level. She has the athletic ability to do well at Murray State,” said Murphysboro Head Softball Coach, Darryl McLaughlin. “Her hard work and work ethic will give her the ability to succeed at Murray State. The Racers are getting one of the better players in Southern Illinois. She will help get the program going in the right direction.”

Bridges is not only a stand-out athlete on the softball field for the Red Devils, as she is a three-year varsity letter winner on the volleyball squad. She has been named to the All-SIRR Conference team as a junior and helped lead Murphysboro to three SIRR conference titles, three regional titles, and a 2009 sectional championship. She is also a stand-out in the classroom, as she is currently the class valedictorian. Bridges has been busy in athletics, academic and several other extra-circular activities as prep. She is a member of the National Honor Society, Beta Club, FCA, and Key Club.

“One of the biggest reasons that I wanted to come to Murray was Coach Pyron. He is so enthusiastic and passionate about building a winning program,” said Bridges. “I believe in everything that he is trying to do and I wanted to be part of that. I also loved the campus and the community around Murray and I could tell that there was going to be a lot of support for the new softball program. Academics are also very important to me and Murray is highly ranked and offered the degree that I was interested in. I am so excited to be part of the Racer family.”

Ali Hart has been a member of the Greenwood High School softball team since her sixth grade year (2004). In the past three years she has had the opportunity to be part of a Lady Gators team that has claimed two-straight Kentucky State Championships and three consecutive District 14 and 4th Region Championship titles. For her efforts as a junior in 2009, Hart was named to the All-District 14 team, District 14 All-Tournament Team and MVP, All-4th Region Team, 4th Region All-Tournament Team, and was the 4th Region Player of the Year.

“Ali is a very physically gifted player with a vibrant personality and is the definition of what a 5 tool player is,” Pyron commented. “She is one of the top athletes in the state of Kentucky, if not the best, and has a competitive spirit to go along with her physical gifts.”

The first team all-star pick had a break-out junior season at Greenwood. She had a .500 hitting average, .541 on-base percentage and a .925 fielding percentage. In 134 at-bats Hart recorded 11 doubles, three triples, and five home runs.

“Ali Hart is one of the most athletic and all-around talented players that I have ever coached,” said Greenwood Head Coach Penny Reece. “This along with her love for the game of softball contributes to her potential being unlimited. From her range in the outfield to her sweet, but powerful swing at the plate - she is just an outstanding softball player. I cannot help but to predict that with her desire and determination, she will thrive at the college level.”

The Hart family is no stranger to athletic success, as her brother Corey Hart is a starting right fielder for the Milwaukee Brewers. Hart has also been a member of the Lady Gator basketball team for three seasons.

“Murray State offers exactly what I want when it comes to my education and athletics,” said Hart. “I also get to be part of help building a foundation in softball for future classes to come.”

Sims is the second member of the 2011 class to have claimed a state championship title. Sims helped Owensboro Catholic earn the 2009 Kentucky State title, while earning several individual honors along the way. The three-time All-District 9 team member also added All-3rd Region, State All-Tournament team, and Class A All-State First Team honors to her resume as a junior. Sims was also picked as a National Fastpitch Coaches Association Second Team All-South Central Regional honoree.

“Meghan is coming off a season at Owensboro Catholic High School where she led her team to the state title,” said Pyron. “Meghan is a very good hitter and it is certainly due to the fact that she loves the game, hitting specifically, and works to be the best she can be. She will fit in great with our team.”

In 2009, Sims recorded a .517 batting average and added a .921 fielding percentage. She garnered 27 doubles, four triples, and six home runs, while adding 49 RBIs. Sims has led the Aces in hits for the past two seasons and was the team’s RBI leader as a freshman and sophomore.

“Meghan has been an outstanding player for me here at Owensboro Catholic,” said Owensboro Catholic Head Coach George Randolph. “She is one of the most versatile hitters I've coached in the fact that she can hit with power and take the pitch where it's pitched to produce RBIs. Meghan has an instinctive knack defensively that makes her a special player as she's always in the right spot and the right time to make the plays. She is a very athletic young lady with a tireless work ethic that should make her transition to college a smooth one.”

Sims is also no stranger to several members of the 2010 Racers softball squad. During the summer of 2009 she was part of the Kentucky Outlaws, with MSU players Shelby Kosmecki, Stephanie Edwards and Christian Cox.

“Meghan has been very successful in hitting for average and power,” said Kentucky Outlaws Head Coach Kerry Jolly. “She is a student of the game and works hard to drive in runs. Defensively, Meghan's athletic ability and versatility will help her at the college level. I think she will be a great fit as a Racer.”

Sims is also a strong student, earning All-American scholar Athlete and Academic All-State honors as a prep.

“I am excited that I about attending Murray State University,” commented Sims. “One of my goals is to pursue a career in healthcare at a strong academic university. A personal goal that I've always had was to play in college at the Division I level. Attending MSU will allow me to fulfill both goals and let me live out my dreams.”

Wilton played for four years at Rockwood Summit High School in Missouri, where softball is a fall sport. She saw success early in her prep career, helping the Falcons to a Missouri State Class 4 State Championship in 2006. While playing for Rockwood Summit, Wilton has also been a part of three District 3 and sectional championship teams and helped lead the Falcons to a 92-23 record.

“Madysen comes to us from one of the most highly respected club teams in the country and has pitched for them her whole career,” Pyron said. “She has beaten some of the best teams in the nation and is the most accomplished pitcher I have ever recruited. Madysen is a bulldog in the circle and an extremely hard worker and competitor. She has a will to win that will be invaluable to our program.”

The three-time All-Suburban South Conference pick, has a 35-15 record in the circle in 330.3 innings of work. The three-time All-District 3 honoree tallied 441 career strike outs and decreased her ERA all four seasons, to finish her senior season with 0.29 mark. Wilton was named to the All-Region team in 2008, while also earning second team All-Metro and All-State honors. She has also been a member of the St. Louis Chaos Club Team for several seasons.

“Madysen is a bulldog on the mound, fiercely competitive and a very smart pitcher,” said St. Louis Chaos Head Coach Robert Furrer. “She understands the game and knows how to set up hitters. She is an extremely hard worker on the field, in the weight room, and in the class room. She has played against the best competition in the country and had amazing success.”

Wilton is an outstanding student as well, earning membership in the National Honor Society as a prep.

“I chose Murray State because it felt like home from the minute I stepped on campus,” said Wilton. “I love everything about it, especially the coaches and the team. I am so excited to start a new chapter in my softball career, with new teammates and coaches, and to live my dream of playing college softball.”

“I am careful to select players that I feel will be on board with what we are doing here at Murray State,” added Pyron. “We have a hard working team that is about the right things and they want to represent their team, coaches, athletic department, university, community and families in a way that will make us all proud. Leslie, Ali, Meghan and Madysen are excited about joining our family and continuing to help us build a special program that is respectful, disciplined, caring, and successful.”

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