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August 1, 2011

Golden Eagle softball adds three more signees to roster for 2012

COOKEVILLE, Tenn. – A pair of junior college sluggers from Texas and Tennessee, and an in-state power-hitting high school infielder are Tennessee Tech softball coach Tory Acheson’s recent signees who will begin their Golden Eagle careers this year. 

The Golden Eagle newcomers are Emily Burch, an infielder from North Richland Hills, Texas, who spent the past two seasons at McClennan (Texas) Community College, Hannah Eldridge, a middle infielder from Fayetteville, Tenn., and Katie Pierce, an outfielder from Pulaski, Tenn., who played two years at Wallace State (Ala.) Community College. 

The trio joins four other Golden Eagle additions who inked in the fall signing period.

“We’re really excited to add these three players at this time of the year,” Acheson said. “Coming off the season we had last spring, we felt it was important to try to change the dynamics of our team, and these three will come in and have a chance to compete for a spot right away, and a chance to improve our program.”

Emily Burch is the daughter of Kenneth and Darlene Burch and plans to major in secondary education. In the Top 10 percent of her high school class, she was a four-time Academic All-District in softball and Academic All-State during her one season of basketball. She graduated from Richland High School in 2009 and has spent the past two years at McClennan (Texas) Community College.

A four-year starter on the high school diamond for coach Kathy Patke, Burch played both first and third base, and also pitched for the Rebels A three-time team RBI leader, she was also named first-team All-District 5-5A all three seasons. She wrapped up her prep career with a .431 batting average and 38 RBI.

She played the last two seasons for coach Manuel Ordones at McClennan, helping captures the 2010 conference championship and 2011 regional title. She was named to the conference’s All-Academic team both years, as well as first-team all-conference.

She hit .331 as a freshman with 34 RBI, 14 doubles and 43 runs scored. As a sophomore, she hit .317, scored 34 runs and had 31 RBI.

“Emily was a player we were interested in coming out of high school, but the timing wasn’t right.” Acheson said. “We’re happy that she remained interested in us while taking the time to improve her game. She’s a very strong player who has a chance to compete for a spot in the infield this year. She will give us a lot of versatility.”

Hannah Eldridge is the daughter of Chuck and MaDonna Eldridge and a 2011 graduate of Lincoln County High School. Like Burch, she also plans to major in secondary education. She is a second-cousin of current Golden Eagle basketball standout Molly Heady.

Eldridge played second base and shortstop for coach Troy Smith, and also pitched for the Falcons. She was a four-time all-district selection and three-time team MVP.  She posted the team’s top batting average each of the past three years, was twice named all-Mid-State and was crowned the 2011 Elk Valley Times Female Athlete of the Year. In July she was named to the Tennessee Sports Writers Association Class AAA first-team All-State team.

With Eldridge in the lineup, Lincoln County claimed back-to-back district titles. They won the 2011 Region 4AAA crown when she delivered an eighth inning walk-off grand slam. As a senior she helped the team post a 42-10 record while compiling a lofty .439 batting average with 16 home runs, 70 RBI, 47 runs scored and a .835 slugging percentage. She hit two home runs four times in 2011.

“Hannah is a tremendous athlete with unlimited potential,” Acheson said. “She’s coming off a very successful high school career and being named all-state is quite an honor for her. There’s no doubt she’s going to compete for a spot in the infield right away this year. She’s a very strong hitter, a strong student, and we’re excited to have her join us.”

Katie Pierce is the daughter of Dennis and Margaret Pierce and will enroll in biology. She is a 2009 graduate of Richland High School and played the past to years at Wallace State Community College where the team was NJCAA national runnerup in 2010 and posted a two-year mark of 114-23.

As a freshman at Wallace State under coach Jayne Clem, Pierce hit .333 with 16 stolen bases and was named Louisville Slugger/NFCA All-America and first-team NJCAA All-South. Her sophomore season yielded a .328 average with seven doubles, three triples and 16 stolen bases. She was named All-ACCC and Region 22 second-team. 

A versatile athlete, Pierce lettered in soccer, basketball and softball at Richland High School. A four-year starter on the softball diamond for coach Rickey Taylor, she was a three-time all-district selection, while graduating eighth in her class.

“Katie had a great career at Wallace State, and they are a perennial Top 10 junior college program,” Acheson said. “She’s another player we were interested in coming out of high school. She’s really worked hard at Wallace State. She’s a well-rounded, very complete player and she will challenge for a spot in the outfield.”

In November, Acheson announced the addition of pitchers Taylor Ketchum (Newcastle, Okla.), and Erica Tuck (Maryville, Tenn), catcher McKenzie Weems (Roswell, Ga.), and outfielder Angi Sakamoto (Waipahu, Hawaii).