SHSU softball adds 8 new faces for 2021 season

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HUNTSVILLE — The 2019 Southland Conference softball champions have reloaded with eight recruits signing their National Letters of Intent to play for Sam Houston State, head coach Garrett Valis announced Wednesday during the early signing period.

Committing to the Bearkats were:

• Kylie Hobbs — RHP/INF | 5-7 | Lexington | Lexington HS

• Mika Vento — RHP | 5-10 | Mercedes | Mercedes High School

• Christine Billmeier — RHP | 5-10 | Pilot Point | Pilot Point HS

• Kenzi Lange — INF | 5-6 | Hallettsville | Hallettsville HS

• Caitlyn Goodeaux — UTL | 5-5 | Richmond | William B. Travis HS

• Avery Tumey — UTL | 5-5 | Taylor | Taylor HS

• Lauren Whitney — C | 5-8 | Friendswood | Lutheran South Academy

• Courtney White — UTL | 5-5 | Cedar Park | Vista Ridge HS

“I am very excited about this class of athletes, and it’s a deep class in all three phases and fills many future needs of our program,” Valis said. “We recruit by looking for intangibles and cultural fit first so when combining their academic success, leadership traits, work ethic and commitment to our vision, I feel this group will be a strong one.

“I want to thank each one of them and their families for joining our program on this journey and cannot say enough about the support staff that we have here at Sam Houston State to help make this day a possibility for our program.”

Position Players

Lauren Whitney — C | 5-8 | Friendswood | Lutheran South Academy

Whitney is a three-time first-team all-district selection for Lutheran South Academy in Friendswood. She was named defensive player of the year, was selected to the all-state tournament team and was a first-team all-state honoree. Whitney plays for the Blaze 18 United club team. She was an academic all-state selection and is a member of the National Honor Society. She is the daughter of Randi and Ken Whitney.

“The moment I stepped foot on campus was the moment I knew I was home,” Whitney said.

Avery Tumey — UTL | 5-5 | Taylor | Taylor HS

Tumey has been a first-team academic all-district selection twice and honorable mention once at Taylor High School. Her club team, the Texas Blaze 18U Gold, placed first at the Colorado Fireworks and was runner-up at the USU/ASA Gold Nationals. She is the daughter of Heather and Bobby Tumey.

“It has been my dream to play softball at SHSU since I started the recruiting process,” Tumey said. “At my first unofficial visit, I fell in love with both the campus and the softball program. The SHSU environment feels so much like home. I am extremely excited to start growing with an amazing team and coaching staff who share my values and love for the game. I can’t wait to develop and progress on the field, as well as in my personal life, over the next four years.”

Kenzi Lange — INF | 5-6 | Hallettsville | Hallettsville HS

Lange is a two-sport standout at Hallettsville High School where she also plays volleyball. Her junior season of softball, she was a first-team all-district selection, made the all-state tournament team, was named all-state by the Texas Girls Coaches Association, second-team all-state by the Texas Sports Writers Association, Defensive Player of the Year by the Victoria Advocate, her team Offensive Most Valuable Player and the Lady Brahma were the state runner-up. Lange set the state tournament records for batting average (.714) and hits in a game (four). As a junior on the volleyball team, she was first-team all-district, Texas Association of Volleyball Coaches all-state and was selected to the TSWA All-Star team. Her sophomore softball season, Lange was first-team all-district and named Defensive Player of the Year by the Victoria Advocate. As a freshman, she was the district Newcomer of the Year and a TSWA third-team all-state honoree. She is the daughter of Kerri and Kevin Lange and plays for the 18U Aces Express Gold Jacoby club team.

“I chose to play softball at Sam Houston State because the coaches and players made me feel at home,” Lange said. “I fell in love with the family atmosphere and culture. I am eager to continue the winning tradition and bring more Southland Conference championships to Huntsville.”

Caitlyn Goodeaux — UTL | 5-5 | Richmond | William B. Travis HS

Goodeaux is a second-team all-district utility player at William B. Travis High School in Richmond. She is a three-year letterwinner and is in the top 15 percent of her class. She plays for the Aces Jacoby 18U club team. She is the daughter of Becky and Grant Goodeaux

“Sam Houston feels like home and where I aspire to start my career on and off the field,” Goodeaux said.

Courtney White — UTL | 5-5 | Cedar Park | Vista Ridge HS

White is a three-time all-district selection at Vista Ridge High School. She was the team Most Valuable Player as a junior. Her club team, the Texas Blaze, was the Colorado Fireworks champions. She is the daughter of Tanya and Kevin White and has been an academic all-district selection.

“I chose to play softball at Sam Houston State because of the unique and one-of-a-kind atmosphere in this program,” White said. “I see Sam Houston as my home and can’t wait for the opportunity to be a Bearkat.”

What Valis has to say about the position players:

“The versatility from this group of position players will be a huge advantage for us moving forward. Having the position flex and combination of power and speed that these young women will display is exactly the direction of our program offensively. I anticipate each athlete to fit into our family culture and bring something different athletically to our already strong roster.”

Pitchers

Christine Billmeier — RHP | 5-10 | Pilot Point | Pilot Point HS

Billmeier was an All-District 9-3A first-team selection and first-team all-area pitcher at Pilot Point High School. As a sophomore, she was the District 9-3A Most Valuable Player, all-area Pitcher of the Year and was named an all-state pitcher by the Texas Girls Coaches Association and Texas Sports Writers Association. Billmeier was also the District 9-3A MVP and all-area Pitcher of the Year and was named all-state by the TGCA and honorable mention all-state by the TSWA. She has been academic all-district each season and is a member of the National Honor Society and ranked 10th in her class. She is the daughter of Melanie and Steve Billmeier and plays for the ProForm A&E Gold club team.

Kylie Hobbs — RHP/INF | 5-7 | Lexington | Lexington HS

As a junior, Hobbs was a first-team all-district selection at Lexington High School. She was the district Offensive Most Valuable Player as a freshman and sophomore. Hobbs, who plays for the Texas Blaze Elite Gold 18U club team, was Lexington’s Most Valuable Player her freshman year and was also honorable mention all-state as a pitcher. She has been an academic all-district honoree each season and is in the top 10 percent of her class. She is the daughter of Amy and Travis Hobbs.

“I knew the first time I stepped on campus that Sam Houston was where I was meant to be,” Hobbs said. “The coaches immediately felt like family, and everything about the school and softball program felt like home. There’s definitely something special about this place and these people, and I can’t wait to be a part of it.”

Mika Vento — RHP | 5-10 | Mercedes | Mercedes High School

Vento is a four-year letterwinner and was first-team all-district as a junior at Mercedes High School. She was selected to the Texas Girls Coaches Association 5A/6A All-Star Game, was the Sub 6A All-Valley Female Athlete of the Year, was selected to the McAllen Monitor’s All-Area second team and helped Mercedes win the bi-district championship and make it to the area finals. As a sophomore, Vento was the district’s Co-Defensive Player of the Year, was also selected to the McAllen Monitor’s All-Area second team and helped Mercedes win the bi-district championship and make it to the area finals. Vento was a first-team all-district first baseman and honorable mention pitcher her freshman season for her bi-district championship squad. She was also the all-area Newcomer of the Year. The daughter of Dina and Roy Vento is currently ranked fifth in her class.

“Nothing is ever too late because what is meant to be, will be in due time,” Vento said. “I’m super excited to start this new chapter in my life at an outstanding university.”

What Valis has to say about the pitching signees:

“We are bringing in three pitchers to help solidify our pitching staff for the future. These three young women will complement each other very well in the circle and are a home run from an academic and character standpoint. We want high character athletes taking the ball for us so they will be a perfect fit. I believe they will develop quickly and contribute for us early. When they are not in the circle I see these pitchers helping us in other areas, especially with power at the plate.”