Nov. 16, 2009
ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- The University of Michigan softball team received National Letters of Intent from five student-athletes during the early signing period, head coach Carol Hutchins announced Monday (Nov. 16). The quintet -- Lyndsay Doyle (Channahon, Ill./Minooka HS), Mandy Gardner (Mission Viejo, Calif./Aliso Niguel HS), Taylor Hasselbach (Clarkston, Mich./Clarkston HS), Nicole Sappingfield (Norco, Calif./Norco HS) and Brandi Virgil (Houston, Texas/Cypress Creek HS) -- will join the Wolverines next fall and make its collegiate debut during the 2011 softball season.
"It's a big group who clearly wanted to be at Michigan," said Hutchins, "which makes them a great fit for Michigan. They're going to come in and replace a veteran class, but the expectation of the program is not going to change whether they're freshmen or seniors. We expect that when they come in we'll keep things going the way they're going, which means a Big Ten championship and World Series appearance. I think they're all more than capable to be great contributors and great Michigan Women."
A three-year starter at centerfield and leadoff hitter for Minooka High School, Doyle led her team with a .438 batting average, .495 on-base percentage and 23 stolen bases in 2009. A three-time student-athlete scholar award recipient, Doyle is a two-year all-area and All-Southwest Prairie Conference first team selection (2008, '09). She also competes for the New Lenox Lightning club program.
"Lyndsay is fast," said Hutchins. "We really like her speed factor, because you can really do a lot with speed. She's a true outfielder and a true lefty. When she came here, she just felt that Michigan was clearly the place for her, and we couldn't be happier to have her."
Gardner, a power-hitting pitcher and first baseman, earned California all-state and All-California Interscholastic Federation (CIF) first team honors as a junior in 2009. She was named the Orange County Register's Junior Player of the Year after posting a 0.43 earned run average, 91 strikeouts and 14-2 record through 97 innings pitched and batting .476 with 15 home runs and 27 runs batted in. Gardner was named the South Coast League MVP and led Aliso Niguel High School to the league championship.
"Mandy comes to us with big-stick capabilities," said Hutchins, "and she's a prospective pitcher down the road. She can also play first base or designated player. She has a variety of nice attributes. Her prowess will be at the plate, and we expect her to do great things here. She's a powerful kid, along the lines of Dorian Shaw."
Hasselbach is a two-time all-state first team selection at shortstop (2008, '09) after claiming honorable mention at third base as a freshman (2007). She led Clarkston High School last season with a .568 batting average, 1.125 slugging percentage and .701 on-base percentage. In three years of prep softball, Hasselbach boasts a .573 career batting average (110-for-192) with 100 runs scored, 22 home runs and 41 stolen bases. She carries a 1.117 career slugging percentage and a .709 career on-base percentage.
"Taylor is probably the best prospect in Michigan," said Hutchins. "She's a true lefty hitter and a powerful lefty. We're very excited about her development since the time that she committed to us. She has great potential to be a premier player here at Michigan, and we expect her to come in and make an impact."
A three-year starter in the outfield for Norco High School, Sappingfield earned California all-state and All-California Interscholastic Federation (CIF) first team honors as a junior (2009) after leading Norco to the CIF Southern Section Division I championship. She led Norco in nearly every offensive category last season, including batting average (.442), on-base percentage (.452), runs (22), RBI (22) and stolen bases (17). She also boasted a .552 slugging percentage. Sappingfield earned All-CIF and All-California underclassmen second team honors (2008) and is a three-time all-league and All-Riverside County selection.
"Colie comes from the perennial power Orange County Batbusters organization," said Hutchins, "and she's a prolific player for them. We're very excited about her. She's a true outfielder and a true top-of-the-order table setter, who offers us a lot. We expect her to make an immediate impact both in the Big Ten and nationally."
Michigan's first-ever recruit out of Texas, Virgil has twice garnered all-state first team honors (2008, '09) as an outfield and middle infield specialist. Virgil was named district MVP as a sophomore (2008) and selected to the All-Greater Houston second team as a junior last season (2009), when she hit .434 with 28 runs, 19 RBI and 28 stolen bases. She also boasted a .539 on-base percentage and .590 slugging percentage as Cypress Creek's leadoff hitter. Virgil plays travel ball with the Texas Eclipse Gold squad.
"Brandi offers a lot of enthusiasm and versatility," said Hutchins. "She can play a number of different positions. She has played at a high level of travel ball, and she's just an all-around strong athlete. Her speed and versatility will help us immediately in both the outfield and infield."
The Wolverines will kick off the 2010 campaign Feb. 12-14 at the NTC Division I Elite Invitational in Orlando, Fla., where they will face Tennessee, Oklahoma, Tennessee Chattanooga, Georgia and UCLA.
Contact: Leah Howard (734) 763-4423