ShowMeMizzou takes a look at a couple of student-athletes who have verbally committed to play softball for Coach Ehren Earleywine as part of Missouri's 2011 recruiting class.
A few years ago, Ashtin Stephens and Kayla Kingsley were teammates on the Jitterbugs, an Oklahoma-based softball team that won ASA Nationals in the ten and under age group. A year or so later, Stephens' family moved to Kansas City. Now, these two friends will again become teammates at Missouri. Each of them have verbally committed to play softball for Coach Ehren Earleywine as part of Missouri's 2011 recruiting class.
A three-year starter for the Oklahoma City area Putnam City North Panthers, the 5'7" 120 pound Kingsley throws right and bats left, and has led her high school team in batting average, on-base percentage, and stolen bases each of the past two seasons, and has been named an All-Metro Conference performer in each of her three seasons. She's also been a Volunteer Player each of the past two seasons for the Special Olympics.Kayla Kingsley
"She is an awesome young lady!" remarked Putnam City North Softball Coach, Mitsy Shaklee. "She's probably one of the best athletes I've ever coached, because she's the total package. She has great speed. She can bunt, slap, and hit for power from the left side. She can switch hit. She can play multiple positions. I've had to use her on the infield, but she's an awesome outfielder, and I think that's where she was recruited to play."
Through 35 games of her junior season, Kingsley is batting .455, with an on-base percentage of .528, and has stolen 14 bases, and scored 36 runs. She's slugging .714, with 4 HRs and 47 RBIs and has a .978 fielding percentage.
In addition to Missouri, several other schools have recruited Kingsley, including Alabama, Kansas, Oklahoma State, and North Texas, among others. She had received an offer from Oklahoma State prior to her verbal commitment to play at Missouri. Kayla talked about her decision to attend Missouri.
"I loved Coach E and how he coached," said Kingsley. "His style of coaching fit me perfectly. The facilities are amazing! I loved it! I went to their hitting camp, and that allowed me to become familiar with everything. Coach E's style of coaching was almost alike to that of my summer ball team, and I felt that it was a good fit."
Kingsley's summer ball team is the Oklahoma Exclusive. She continued to talk about why she felt that Missouri is a good fit for her.
"I love the girls," said Kayla. "When I met them, I absolutely loved them! And, I liked how Coach Earleywine has the highest percentage of stolen bases. I felt like that was a perfect place for me just because he likes to steal bases, and because of my speed, I steal bases all the time. But, it was mainly the girls. The girls are what got me. They all just welcomed me, and I loved it!"
Kayla expects to play in the outfield at Missouri, but indicated that she could play anywhere she was needed. She's been timed from home to first in 2.59 seconds and from home to home in 10.69 seconds.
Kayla Kingsley talked about her experience as a ten-year old with the ASA Nationals champion Jitterbugs, and renewing her friendship with Ashtin Stephens.
"Ashtin and I started together on the Jitterbugs," said Kingsley. "It was fun, because it was like you just didn't care, and just kind of played all out, and if you made a mistake, we didn't even think twice about it. We had just got started. And, when I heard that Ashtin was coming to Missouri too, I was so excited!"
2011 SS Ashtin Stephens 5'4" 110 lbs. Blue Springs (MO) is a first team all-state selection in Class 4. Stephens hit .479 from her lead-off spot for the Wildcats, who went 23-5 and made the Missouri Class 4 playoffs. Stephens is a "slapper" who bats left and throws right, and posted a .612 on-base percentage while scoring 32 runs, with 12 RBIs and 25 stolen bases. She told me that she hopes to play SS at Missouri, but that she can play 2B, or anywhere else that she is needed.Ashtin Stephens
Ashtin played basketball and ran track at Blue Springs until last year, but has since decided to focus on just playing softball, where she's twice been named All-State, All-Conference, and All-Metro. In track, she ran the 100 meter hurdles and the 300 meter hurdles, and participated in the triple jump. She told me that her best time in the 100 meter hurdles was 16.1 seconds, and her best triple jump was 32'11".
She also plays SS for the Kansas City based Team Power, where she is a teammate of 2010 Missouri signees, Brianna Corwin and Mackenzie Sykes.
Stephens had accrued a very impressive offer list, including Alabama, Oklahoma, Mississippi, Missouri, and Stanford. She said that her decision came down to between Oklahoma and Missouri. She talked about her decision.
"Whenever I took the visit (to Missouri)," said Stephens, "I loved the campus. I love how all the athletics have their own building, and the weight room, and the tutoring room, and the lunch room all in one building. And, Coach E really made me feel at home. That's something that I have to cherish. Because if I don't feel at home, I can't go somewhere. And, at OU, I didn't really feel like I fit in."
I asked Ashtin Stephens to give me a scouting report on herself.
"Well, I'm quick, obviously," she said as she began to describe herself. "I'm little. Well, I feel that I have good fundamentals, because that's kind of what I pride myself on. I have a quick release. I don't have a really strong arm, but I have a quick release."
"I'm very competitive," continued Stephens. "I don't really like to lose, at all."
I pointed out that her competitiveness was probably what Coach Earleywine liked about her, and that it sounds to me that when he recruited Ashtin Stephens, he probably felt like he was recruiting himself, or a player just like himself.
"Yeah," laughed Stephens. "He jokes about that with me. He says that I'm his twin."
Both Stephens and Kingsley plan to sign with Missouri in November.