Michigan Inks Standout Trio During Early Signing Period

ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- University of Michigan head softball coach Carol Hutchins announced Tuesday (Nov. 18) the signing of three student-athletes -- infielder Amy Knapp(St. Joseph, Mich./Lakeshore HS), infielder Ashley Lane(Escondido, Calif./Escondido HS) and pitcher Stephanie Speierman(Columbia, Md./Hammond HS) -- to National Letters of Intent during the early signing period. The trio will join the Wolverines next fall and make its collegiate debut during the 2010 softball season.

"I am very excited about this class," said Hutchins. "It is a small class, but it's a good, solid class. I think they are a really good fit for Michigan; they're all good Michigan kids. It is a versatile group, and we're looking for them to come and contribute right away."

A product of Lakeshore High School -- the alma mater of U-M All-American and current volunteer coach Becky Marx (2005-06) -- Knapp has twice garnered all-state recognition from the Michigan High School Softball Coaches Association, earning first team shortstop honors as a sophomore (2007) and honorable mention accolades as a junior (2008). A two-time all-conference pick, she led her team in batting average over the previous two seasons and as a junior posted a .450 average with 38 hits, including 10 triples, 18 RBI and a .927 fielding percentage at shortstop.

"Amy grew up in a ballpark," said Hutchins, "and she's a ballpark kind of kid. She is an instinct player. I think Amy adds a lot of versatility. She can play a lot of positions. She can play shortstop; therefore I think she can probably play second base. I am sure she can play some outfield. I think she is a perfect fit for Michigan, and she brings a lot to the table."

Lane is Michigan's third recruit from southern California in as many seasons, joining current Wolverine sophomore Jordan Taylor(Valencia, Calif./Valencia HS) and freshman Bree Evans(Bloomington, Calif./Rialto HS). A three-year starter at shortstop for Escondido High School, Lane earned California all-state second team and All- California Interscholastic Federation (CIF) first team honors as a junior (2008) after posting a .459 batting average, 39 hits, 20 RBI and 25 runs. Twice named Escondido's Offensive Player of the Year, Lane helped lead her team to back-to-back CIF Division 1 state titles (2006, '07) and three straight Valley League championships. She plays travel ball with the prestigious Orange County Batbusters organization.

"Ashley comes from arguably the best summer softball program in the country," said Hutchins. "She brings us a wealth of competitiveness. I like the fact that she is one of the most consistent players I have seen play and, like Amy, she is very versatile. She can play anywhere on the infield and could play outfield if needed. She is just a great fit for Michigan."

Speierman, considered one of the top pitchers on the East Coast, earned 2008 Under Amour Softball All-America accolades after boasting a junior record of 18-4 with 354 strikeouts, nine no-hitters, including a perfect game, and a .418 batting average. As a sophomore (2007), Speierman led Hammond High School to the Maryland 2A state championships, breaking six state records in the process, including single-season wins (23) and strikeouts (426). A two-time Washington Post and Baltimore Sun All-Met first team selection (2007, '08), she has earned seven total Player of the Year honors during her career, including the 2007 distinction from the Baltimore Examiner.

"Stephanie is a very experienced pitcher," said Hutchins, "and she comes in with a great competitive background. I think she is a great student of the game. She has the potential to be a lights-out pitcher, and I think she has the potential to be a great college hitter, which is a very important attribute."

The Wolverines will kick off the 2009 campaign Feb. 6-9 at the FAU Kick-Off Classic in Boca Raton, Fla., where they will face Pittsburgh, Massachusetts, Maryland and host Florida Atlantic.

Contact: Leah Howard (734) 763-4423

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