ILLINOIS SOFTBALL LANDS TRIO OF PREP RECRUITS TO TAKE FIELD IN 2005
DeKALB, IL---Northern Illinois University head softball coach Donna
Martin wanted to address more than a few areas with this year's
early recruiting class. The tenth-year Huskie boss did just that,
announcing the signing of three high school players to National
Letters of Intent Monday (Dec. 15) who combine a mix of speed, power,
solid pitching, and experience, among other talents.
Taryn Hagemann (Rochelle), Jackie Lancaster (Flossmoor
/ Homewood-Flossmoor), and Krista McPherson (Beecher) will
all join NIU at the conclusion of their senior seasons and finally
take the field for the Huskies during the spring of 2005.
Hagemann is the arm of the group, boasting a laundry list of accomplishments
and records in the circle after her first three years under head
coach Brian Mungai at Rochelle High School. The right-hander
has already set the all-time RHS mark for strikeouts in a career,
carrying a total of 532 into her senior year. She also became the
first Lady Hub to ever win 20 games in a season, posting a 20-5
record last spring while striking out 223 batters against only 45
walks and allowing just 18 earned runs over 168 innings for a sparkling
0.75 earned run average.
"Taryn has the ability to develop into a really good pitcher
here at NIU," Martin noted. "There is a lot of untapped
talent there, and she possess the work habits to get where she wants
to be. She works hard in practice, does things on her own, and is
eager to learn and try new things to make herself better."
The numbers don't end there, as Hagmeann finally broke through at
the plate in 2003 as well, setting career highs in virtually every
offensive category. She batted .345 while driving in 26 runs and
racked up nine extra-base hits including the first two home runs
of her career.
Apparently, the North Central Illinois Conference took notice, as
Hagemann made her third straight appearance on the All-NCIC squad,
earning First Team honors for the first time after a pair of Second
Team accolades in 2001 and 2002. The Dixon Telegraph
showered some postseason praise on Hagemann as well, placing her
on the publication's First Team All-Area listing just one season
after watching the then-sophomore make her debut on the Second Team
Lancaster claims an All-Area nomination of her own, taking home
Honorable Mention honors from the Star Newspaper after
hitting .323 with a home run, 10 RBI, and a pair of stolen bases
last season for head coach Larry Connor at Homewood-Flossmoor
High School. She was also awarded a spot on the First Team all-conference
squad in the ultra-competitive SICA East.
In just her first varsity season, Lancaster helped lead HFHS to
a league title with a blemish-free 10-0 mark in conference contests
and a 25-4 record overall. The Vikings won the Thornwood Regional
and advanced to the championship game of their own sectional before
falling to state quarterfinalist Andrew High School 1-0 in the final.
"Jackie brings a lot of that winning environment to our program,"
Martin explained. "She is a different kind of athlete, because
she is a bit taller, but still possesses good speed and can play
multiple positions. She will definitely bring a different look to
A three-year varsity letterwinner, McPherson has also spent her
high school career in the midst of constant success under the tutelage
of Rick Ratliff at Beecher High School. The Ladycats have
won three consecutive River Valley Conference titles, combining
to go 41-4 in league contests since 2001. McPherson has also helped
lead BHS to a pair of regional crowns while individually garnering
First Team All-Area laurels from the Daily Southtown
and a First Team All-RVC nod last spring.
Using a devastating combination of speed and solid hitting, McPherson
had developed into the pacesetter for the Beecher offense over the
past two seasons, posting a .397 batting average during her sophomore
campaign and following that up with a .377 effort last year. In
addition to setting career highs in runs scored (37), hits (40),
walks (15), and RBI (12) in 2003, McPherson also learned a new skill,
stealing 20 bases after failing to swipe more than three in either
of her previous seasons.
"Krista is an exceptional athlete with several talents that
will fit into our system," Martin said. "She is a triple
threat from the left side of the plate with good speed and instincts.
Defensively, she can also play several positions for us, but one
of her best strengths is her work ethic to become better not only
athletically, but in terms of her own personal growth as well."
As the trio of new signees gets ready for the upcoming high school
season, the current Northern Illinois softball team is just under
two months away from starting its own campaign. The Huskies travel
to Minneapolis, MN to open the year indoors at the Metrodome Softball
Classic against the host University of Minnesota at 7:00 p.m. on
Thursday, February 12, 2004.
by Brian Kedzior