Pearl River softball welcomes new class of Wildcats
Published 1:10 pm Tuesday, November 9, 2021
Pearl River softball head coach Christie Meeks signed 14 new Wildcats at the start of the early signing period Monday. Joining PRCC’s softball program as members of the Class of 2022 are Vancleave’s Bryn Daughtery, Marisa West of Leroy (Ala.), Poplarville’s Kaitlynn Schonewitz, Morgan Lavergne of Central (La.), Lake’s Gracie McKee, Clinton Christian Academy’s Natalie Toups, Greene County’s Charlee Meadows, Ocean Springs’ Bella Crawley, Pearl River Central’s Ashlyn Dean, Mya Young of Paxton (Fla.), Hancock’s Klair Cuevas and Petal’s Natalie Herrington, Ryleigh Wallace and Kate Sanford.
“This was an extremely fun class to recruit,” Pearl River softball coach Christie Meeks said. “A lot of these girls have played together or against each other in some sort of way. Two positions we wanted to excel in recruiting with the 2022 graduates were pitching and catching and we feel this class has definitely brought that.
“We’re excited to see what next season will hold.”
Both Herrington and Young are ranked in ExtraInningSoftball.com’s Top 200.
Crawley is a right-handed pitcher from Ocean Springs. As a junior she was 15-5 with a paltry 1.75 ERA. In 132 1/3 innings, Crawley struck out 112 batters.
“Bella is such a great signee for us as a right-handed pitcher,” Meeks said. “She has led Ocean Springs for the last two years in the circle. She has so many different dynamics and with different speeds. She’ll bring a lot to our staff.”
Cuevas is another in-district talent whom Meeks targeted early on in the recruiting process.
“Klair is extremely tough in the outfield. She plays shortstop for her high school but plays the outfield for her travel team,” Meeks said. “She reads the ball well in the outfield. She brings a lot to the plate with speed from the right side as well as gap-to-gap power.”
Daughtery is a right-handed pitcher and will also see time in the infield. At the plate, Daughtery hit .386 with nine extra-base hits, 14 RBIs and 15 runs scored in 2020-21. She was also 3-0 with a 2.20 ERA, striking out 43 against just five walks in 28 2/3 innings. She’s the younger sister of current Wildcat, Erin Daughtery.
“Bryn will be a big arm for us. She brings a very special presence on the mound, in the infield, and at the plate,” Meeks said. “She’s very aware of her body and can make adjustments so quickly. She’s not only a great person but a great teammate.
“She has a lot of power and will swing it well too.”
Dean will slot in at either catcher or the corner infield for Meeks. As a junior at PRC, Dean swung a hot bat, hitting .291 with 11 extra base hits and 22 RBIs.
“Ashlyn is another fantastic local talent,” Meeks said. “She catches and plays third at PRC. She has a strong arm and a lot of power at the plate. Ashlyn is a great leader too.”
Herrington has been a dominant right-hander for Petal for several years but is coming off of her best campaign to date. As a junior, Herrington was 16-5 with an 0.82 ERA. Four of her 25 appearances resulted in no-hitters. She ultimately struck out 226 batters against only 29 walks in 144 1/3 innings. Her strikeout total placed her fifth in Mississippi.
“I have had the privilege of watching Natalie for over three years and every day she comes with the attitude of getting better,” Meeks said. “We’re so excited she’s a part of our program. She’s the sweetest but most competitive person I have ever met.
“She brings a lot to our pitching staff with speed, a great rise ball, and equally great change up.”
Lavergne was named to TheAdvocate’s All-Metro team following a strong 2021 season that saw the middle infielder hit .429 with five home runs.
“Morgan is a small middle infielder but don’t let size fool you,” Meeks said. “She plays with a big heart. She’s a power righty with great speed. Morgan’s energy is electric. We believe she will help us a lot.”
McKee played a huge role for a Lake team that went 24-6 last year and won the MHSAA Class 2A State Championship.
“Gracie is a tough defensive player in the outfield,” Meeks said. “Being on a championship team she knows what it takes to help our program win a title.”
Meadows had an impressive 2021. As a junior, the middle infielder hit .444 with four extra-base hits, 13 RBIs and 11 runs scored.
“CharLee has a magnetic personality and comes from a great program,” Meeks said. “She is a gap-to-gap hitter and is extremely gritty. She’s the type of player you want who always leaves the field with a dirty uniform.
“We’re so happy to have her.”
Sanford was one of the offensive leaders for Petal a year ago, hitting .313 with four doubles, 14 RBIs and a team-high 26 runs scored. She also stole a team-high 17 bases in 19 attempts.
“Kate brings a lot of speed to this class,” Meeks said. “She’s an outfielder who reads the ball well and is a gritty player. She’s also extremely smart on the base path. Kate is a type of player who puts ‘team before me’ and that is something special to have.”
Schonewitz is a catcher/infielder who has a lively bat. As a junior, the Poplarville Hornet hit .441 with 10 doubles, one triple, one home run and 14 RBIs.
“Kaitlynn is an extremely hard worker,” Meeks said. “She plays really gritty and has versatility that we’ll need. She’s a local talent and we love being able to keep our talent within our district.”
Toups comes to PRCC after a successful prep career. As an anchor for Clinton Christian Academy, Toups helped lead her team to a 16-4-2 record last season.
“Natalie is the newest addition to a great class and is a huge signee for us,” Meeks said. “She has a strong arm, is quick on her feet and knows the game extremely well.
“Natalie is another signee who will bring a lot of power to our lineup.”
Wallace is a third member of the Petal Panthers to sign with PRCC. The infielder batted .306 with nine extra-base hits, 19 RBIs and 18 runs scored.
“Ryleigh has a lot of intangibles,” Meeks said. “She’s a hard worker and will run through a brick wall if asked. We’re excited about having Ryleigh in our program, not only for what she does on the field but as a teammate.”
West is another future Wildcat who comes from an incredibly successful prep program. As a junior, West’s Bears boasted a 35-8 record.
“Marisa brings a big bat to our team. She has a great composure at the plate and behind the plate,” Meeks said. “She really makes pitchers feel comfortable throwing to her. Plus her arm strength is outstanding.”
West was named to the Alabama Sports Writers Association’s Class 2A First Team.
Young is a talent in the circle. As a junior, the right-hander was 10-7 with a 1.32 ERA. She struck out 178 batters while walking only 27 in 105 2/3 innings.
“I always say when we play travel ball teams that if someone can shut down your hitters, you better try to sign them — and that was Mya,” Meeks said. “She works quietly, and consistently. She continuously produces outs, spins the ball well and most importantly, she’s a great teammate.”