University of Northern Iowa head softball coach Ryan Jacobs has announced the addition of five student-athletes to the Panthers' roster on National Signing Day.
The Panthers have added Taylor Benshoof (Winterset, Iowa/Winterset HS), Alyssa Buchanan (Fishers, Ind./Hamilton Southeastern HS), Kate Kinnetz (Waterloo, Iowa/Waterloo East HS), Anna Varriano (Stillwell, Kan./Blue Valley HS) and Macey Wolfe (Grimes, Iowa/Dallas Center Grimes HS) to their roster for the 2013-14 academic year.
"The recruiting class of 2013 is a product of the hard work and dedication of the players in the program for the last five years," Jacobs said. "It was their hard work that made the UNI softball program something people knew about and talked about. The success they have had was noticed by these incoming recruits, and made UNI a place they wanted to be. It is now a tradition that this class will now be a part of and continue to move the program forward."
Taylor Benshoof -
Utility Infielder/Outfielder - Winterset Iowa/Winterset HS
Benshoof has earned first-team all-state honors each of the past two seasons at Winterset High School. She has also tallied first-team all-conference honors and first-team all-district accolades as a sophomore and as a junior. Benshoof currently holds the Winterset single-season school records in hits, doubles, runs scored and slugging percentage. She earned second-team all-conference honors as a freshman. Benshoof is a two-time all-conference pick in basketball as well. She holds a 3.816 grade point average and ranks ninth in her class of 100.
"Taylor emerged as one of the best players in the state as a sophomore when she was second in the state (23) for doubles, just one behind current Panther Caitlin Wnek," Jacobs said. "She has tremendous athletic ability and natural skills that will help her adjust very quickly at the next level. Taylor has great hand-eye coordination, is a very consistent hitter, and has very good speed that will allow her to be very versatile in our program."
Alyssa Buchanan -
Pitcher - Fishers, Ind./Hamilton Southeastern HS
Buchanan is a two-time all-conference pitcher at Hamilton Southeastern High School in Fishers, Ind. Buchanan helped her prep squad to the 2010 Indiana 4A state championship. In the 2010 postseason, Buchanan tallied a 1.17 earned run average and hit .455 at the plate. She has played travel softball for the Illinois Chill Gold (2010-11), Indiana Shockwaves (2009-10), ASA Indiana State Champions (2010), and the Indy Diamond Chix (2005-09). She is a National Junior Honor Society member with a 3.37 grade point average. She plans to major in communications at UNI.
"Alyssa is a well-rounded pitcher with very good speed and movement," Jacobs said. "She is a great competitor on the mound and has pitched against some of the best hitters in the country playing for the Illinois Chill travel ball organization. She will add high quality depth to our pitching staff with the ability to lead the team."
Kate Kinnetz -
Utility Infielder - Waterloo, Iowa/Waterloo East HS
Kinnetz earned first-team all-state honors in 2012. She is a three-time all-metro pick and a two-time first-team all-conference selection at Waterloo East High School. Kinnetz tallied honorable mention all-state honors in 2011. In 2012, Kinnetz hit 10 home runs, drove in 42 runs, stole 33 bases and hit .513 at the plate. Kinnetz is also a two-time first-team all-metro pick in volleyball. She is an honor roll student and plans to major in biology at UNI.
"What is so special about Kate is that she is one of the best players in the state and is a local kid," Jacobs said. "It has been fun to watch her grow as a player and see her develop her skills. The development of power at the plate has been most noticable. She went from one home run in her sophomore season to nine home runs in her junior season. Her passion for the game of softball is what she will bring to our program. It is also that passion that will allow her to be a versatile player and help us in many ways. She comes from a great high school softball program at Waterloo East where I know they teach their players how to compete, toughness and a never give up attitude."
Anna Varriano -
Catcher - Stillwell, Kan./Blue Valley HS
Varriano earned first-team all-state honors as a catcher in 2012. Varriano was named the defensive player of the year two years in a row. Varriano has served as team captain and been a four-year letterwinner at Blue Valley High School. Varriano led the team in hits, singles, runs scored, on-base percentage and batting average. In her sophomore season, Blue Valley took runner-up honors in the state of Kansas. She played for the ADIDAS Futures team and took ninth out of 50 teams in the competition. She also played for the KC Xteme 18 Gold squad coaches by Paul Caccavo in 2011-12. She currently plays for the KC Peppers 18 Gold coached by Dan Eakin. Varriano is a member of National Honor Society and has been an honor roll student every year of high school. Varriano is a three-time scholar-athlete recipient. She is also a member of the FEA (Future Educators of America) Club.
"Anna is a natural leader on the field," Jacobs said. "She plays with a ton of energy that rubs off on her teammates. She is a strong armed catcher that is able to control the running game and keep base runners honest. Her intensity and hustle behind the plate gives pitchers a ton of confidence. She is a very strong hitter, and has done it through hard work. She knows how her swing works and this will make it easier for her to make the jump to college softball. She is a tremendous teammate and will bring a new level of leadership to the Panther softball program."
Macey Wolfe -
Outfielder - Grimes, Iowa/Dallas Center Grimes HS
Macey Wolfe is a two-time all-state pick from Dallas Center Grimes High School. She earned Class 4A all-tournament team honors at the state tournament as a sophomore and as a junior. She is a two-time unanimous first-team all-conference selection. She a three-time all-county pick. In 2012, she hit .356 with a .627 slugging percentage and a .460 on-base percentage with seven home runs. As a sophomore in 2011, she hit .471 with a .908 slugging percentage and a .510 on-base percentage with 13 home runs. She led Class 3A in home runs as a sophomore. She holds her high school single-season records in hits (72), RBI (55), doubles (22), home runs (13), slugging percentage (.908), at-bats (153) and runs scored (49). Wolfe has a 3.9157 grade point average and ranks 10th in her class of 148. She is a member of National Honor Society and the Fellowship of Christian Athletes. She also competes in basketball, volleyball and track as a prep athlete. She has taken part in seven RAGBRAI's.
"Macey is a great competitor and will bring a huge sense of toughness to the UNI softball program," Jacobs said. "Macey has developed into one of the best power hitters in the state. Her sophomore year she was third in the state in doubles (22), just one behind new Panther teammate Taylor Benshoff, and has hit 20 home runs in the last two seasons. She will add great depth to our outfield and to our lineup."
"I also want to recognize the tremendous job our entire staff has done recruiting this year," coach Jacobs said. "When student-athletes see the level of passion, loyalty, and desire our staff has it is something they want to be a part of. Especially the efforts of Coach (Julie) Gerdes, it couldn't happen this way without her dedication and work ethic. Now with the addition of Coach (Matt) Egger to our staff, I believe our future recruiting classes will even continue to get better and better."