2012 Signing Day: Kansas Softball Signs Six Versatile Athletes
Nov. 21, 2012
LAWRENCE, Kan.-- Head coach Megan Smith received National Letters of Intent from six new Jayhawks, who will join the Kansas softball team for the 2013-14 season, marking one the largest early-period signing classes in Smith's four seasons.
The early signing period began on Nov. 14 and KU's class of 2013 consists of Midwest talent, including three Kansans and three from Oklahoma. Kansas will gain a pitcher, along with a pair of infielders, two utility players and an all-state catcher, but Smith takes pride in recruiting athletes capable of playing multiple positions. That strengthens the depth she and her staff have been working to achieve.
The class of 2013 includes: Lily Behrmann (Overland Park, Kan.), Taylor Dodson (Grove, Okla.), Taylor McElhaney (Talala, Okla.), Harli Ridling (Sentinel, Okla.), Katelyn Schumacher (Hays, Kan.) and Sophia Templin (De Soto, Kan.)
"We're really excited about the class," Smith said. "It's full of versatile athletes, which is really what we were going for. All six bring some different things to the table, but overall they are extremely athletic and versatile. We're really excited that they are finally Jayhawks."
Lily Behrmann | UTL | Overland Park, Kan. | Blue Valley West HS
During her sophomore season, Behrmann led the team in batting average and on-base percentage en route to winning the league championship and claiming EKL All-Second Team Infield honors. In 2012, Behrmann again led the Jaguars in batting average as a junior and was named EKL All-First Team Infield.
"Lily really is a true utility player," Smith said. "We've seen her play multiple positions for her summer team, the Kansas Gold, who is coached by one of our former player's (Marissa Ingle)'s father, Mark. She's been coming to our camps and clinics since I started as the coach here four years ago. She understands our system and understands everything that we do."
Behrmann played on the Kansas Gold club team last season and has also played for the KC Peppers and the Olathe Rockets. While with the Peppers, the team qualified for Gold Nationals in 2012 and Behrmann led the squad with a .394 batting average.
She is the daughter of Rohina and Kenneth Behrmann and hasn't yet decided on a major.
"She's a strong infielder and she can play the outfield," Smith said. "She's a left-handed hitter and can slap. She has some speed so she's really versatile and athletic. She's a great kid and easily coachable. She's easily one of the most coachable kids that I've seen. She listens and makes really good adjustments. Luckily, we've been able to see that because she's been at our camps and clinics for the last four years. She's a true Jayhawk and we are just so excited to have her."
Taylor Dodson | IF | Grove, Okla. | Grove HS
"Taylor Dodson is a special player and an unbelievable hitter with a lot of power at the plate," Smith said. "She's an infielder who can play multiple infield positions. She's really strong defensively, and offensively she is clearly a power hitter. Her father played professional baseball and went to a World Series with the Boston Red Sox. She's certainly taken his talents and now she is going to bring them to Kansas."
As a freshman, Dodson hardly experienced a slow rookie season, hitting .476 with 41 RBIs. By the completion of her sophomore year, she had already broken the school's single-season (13) and career (14) home run records. She went on to obliterate the career home run mark, but her 13 homers for a season still stands as a school record.
Dodson is the daughter of Pat and Lisa and has two older brothers: Ryan and Tyler. Her father, Pat, played for the Boston Red Sox and Texas Rangers organizations as well as the Kintetsu Buffalos.
"She's someone we are really excited about," Smith continued. "She reminds me of (current Jayhawk) Mariah Montgomery and we lose Mariah which is sad for us, but we are gaining a player who is really similar. She's a really good power hitter, but athletic enough that she can play any position in the infield."
Taylor McElhaney | IF | Talala, Okla. | Oologah-Talala HS
As a senior, her team put it all together for a state championship in 2012. Following her senior season, McElhaney was awarded Middle East All-State Shortstop, First-Team All-Region Three Shortstop and Verdigris Valley First Team Defensive Player of the Year.
"Taylor McElhaney is just an unbelievable athlete overall," Smith said. "When you leave the field you remember her. She's one of those special players. She doesn't say a lot. She's not in your face, but her play is. She plays shortstop but is capable of playing multiple positions. She is a force, has speed and is very versatile at the plate."
Aside from knowing how to win on the softball field, McElhaney has also guided the OTHS women's basketball team to three-straight conference championships with her senior season still ahead.
At the club level, McElhaney has played on several ASA National Championship teams, including the 16U ASA National Championship with the Tulsa Elite '95 under coach Steve Bevan.
"She's a winner," Smith said. "She was on a team this summer that won nearly every major tournament they played in. Her high school team just won a state championship. She knows how to win. We're excited to have her and are excited to bring her versatility and athleticism to our team next year."
The daughter of Mike and Jeri McElhaney, Taylor plans to major in nursing.
Harli Ridling | C, IF | Sentinel, Okla. | Sentinel HS
"She absolutely can hit," Smith said. "She comes from a great pedigree. Her brother plays professional baseball with the Cubs organization. She is a force at the plate and just as strong defensively. She's just a natural talent with a strong arm and good instincts. That shows when you watch her play. It's fun to watch her."
As a junior, Ridling hit for an astounding .733 batting average that included nine homeruns and a career-high 64 RBIs. She cranked out nine more homeruns in her senior season and finished her final year of high school hitting .647. Aside from her offensive power, Ridling will likely impact the Jayhawks' roster right away as a catcher, but can play several infield positions.
"She's unbelievable behind the plate," Smith said. "But I think the good thing about Harli is that her team, in pressure situations, wants her all over the field. She can play shortstop--she's played everywhere. That is really important for us to get someone who is a strong catcher behind the plate, but has the capabilities to be versatile and to be a good athlete."
Ridling played four seasons for the Oklahoma City Force at the club level, under coaches Jeff Sanders and Jason Sparks. She is also a four-year letterwinner for the SHS women's basketball team and was named All-Conference for the 2011-12 season.
The daughter of Rusty and Dana Ridling, Harli plans to major in nursing.
Katelyn Schumacher | UTL | Hays, Kan. | Hays HS
Last spring, Schumacher hit .534 as a junior resulting in her second-straight Western Athletic Conference Selection.
"Katelyn is a dynamic player," Smith said. "She has played for one of the best summer programs in the state, the Wichita Mustangs. They are coached by Mark Griggs, who is an unbelievable summer coach. (That means) she has played the best competition in the country for the last few years with them and has done extremely well. She is a powerful hitter and has a lot of potential at the plate."
Aside from her softball abilities, Schumacher is a Western Athletic Conference Second Team selection on the volleyball team and has earned All-State honors for the HHS women's basketball team.
"That athleticism just goes across the board," Smith said. "They have good footwork and good coordination, you just see a little difference in someone that has played more than one sport. For her, I think that has helped with her versatility. She can play a corner position. She can play outfield. She's a good hitter and runs the bases well. You can see that athleticism that comes from different sports kind of bleed into softball."
Schumacher is a three-time Outstanding Academic Achievement Award winner and has been on the 4.0 honor roll three years, as well. She is a University of Kansas Honors Scholar, is on the Western Athletic Conference 4.0 Team and is a member of the National Honor Society. The daughter of Bruce and Brenda Schumacher, Katelyn plans to major in biochemistry.
Sophia Templin | P | De Soto, Kan. | De Soto HS
"Sophia is one of those pitchers who is a finesse pitcher," Smith said. "She doesn't throw extremely hard, but she spins the ball and locates it extremely well, which frustrates batters. That is something that you have to do at this level. It's one thing to have speed, but if you are not moving the ball and changing speeds and you can't spot location, you're going to struggle."
At the club level, Temple also plays for the Kansas Gold for coach Mark Ingle. Last summer, she went 23-8 in 179 innings pitched. She collected 100 strikeouts and 39 walks over the summer with a 2.39 ERA.
Always involved, Templin is the editor of her school newspaper, senior class secretary, madrigal choir secretary and was chosen to be a Youth Delegate representing the Girl Scouts at the 56th Commission on the Stat of Women at the United Nations in New York.
The daughter of Roger and Mitra Templin, both graduates of Kansas, Sophia plans to major in strategic communications.