Nov. 16, 2010
ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- The University of Michigan softball team received National Letters of Intent from three student-athletes during the early signing period, head coach Carol Hutchins announced Tuesday (Nov. 16). The trio -- RHP Sara Driesenga (Hudsonville, Mich./Hudsonville HS), catcher Lauren Sweet (Corona, Calif./Santiago HS) and LHP Haylie Wagner (Orange, Calif./El Modena HS) -- will join the Wolverines next fall and make their collegiate debut during the 2012 softball season.
"It's not a very large class," said Hutchins, "but I think it's a good class. They're all good Michigan kids. They were all very interested in Michigan, liked what we are about, and I think those are the type of kids who fit the best. They have a high level of desire to play here and understand that this is a special place to be a student and an athlete. I expect all of them to come in and make an impact. I think they're all capable of it, and that's what we need them to do."
Driesenga, regarded as one of the nation's premiere pitchers, garnered 2010 ESPN Junior National Player of the Year honors after boasting a 2010 record of 29-1 with a 0.15 earned-run average and 337 strikeouts through 183 innings pitched. As a sophomore, she went 21-2 with a 0.23 ERA and 224 Ks. Driesenga has twice been named Michigan's Gatorade Player of the Year (2009, '10) while leading Hudsonville High School to back-to-back Division I state championships. On the offensive side of the ball, she posted a .541 average with 14 home runs last season; she also hit .517 as a freshman in 2008.
"We have been excited about Sara for years," said Hutchins. "She has such a great upside. She's a big, strong kid, and I think the sky is the limit for her in terms of athletic potential. We feel she's really going to come in, fill our needs and help us on both sides of the ball. She can hit for herself, and we'll be looking for her to do that."
Sweet, considered one of the top catchers in California, led Santiago High School to an undefeated league record in her junior season. Boasting a .448 batting average with eight home runs and 37 runs-batted in, she was awarded a Big VIII League MVP along with all-league, All-CIF and all-state honors. In her sophomore campaign, Sweet registered a .368 average with 24 RBI to lead her team to a 27-5 record and an appearance in the CIF finals.
"Lauren comes to us really with the ability to catch at this level," said Hutchins. "She has tremendous physical talents, good speed and hitting -- and she can play a little outfield as well. So, she's pretty versatile. She has a ton of enthusiasm for Michigan and for the sport."
Wagner has dominated the Century League, as well as the California Interscholastic Federation, from both the mound and the plate. A two-time Century League Pitcher of the Year, Wagner has compiled 558 strikeouts over the past two seasons, boasting a 24-6 record with a 1.44 ERA in her junior year. From the plate, she accumulated a .381 batting average with nine home runs and 29 RBI last season en route to All-CIF Southern Section first team honors. As a freshman first baseman, Wagner helped guide El Modena High School to its first ever Southern Section Division II Championship.
"Haley is a lefty-right -- throws lefty, hits righty -- in the mold of [former U-M All-American] Kelly Kovach," said Hutchins. "We found her a little late in the process as it goes. She was a bit under the radar except in her local area, but we feel she has got tremendous potential. I like those lefthanders, and she's another one who will be able to hit for herself down the road. She has a good command of her pitches, and we feel she has the ability to get a lot better in our program."
The Wolverines will kick off the 2011 campaign Feb. 11-13 at the Houston Classic in Houston, Texas, where they will face Southern Illinois, Houston, Oklahoma and Stephen F. Austin.
Contact: Leah Howard (734) 763-4423