With the Minot State University softball team expecting to lose three pitchers and three catchers after the 2013 season, shoring up the program's battery for the future was coach Bill Triplett's top recruiting priority.
Triplett announced the signings of four players Wednesday - one catcher and three players that can pitch, hit and play other positions in the field.
Sarah Nicks, a 5-foot-3 catcher, hit six home runs and earned 2012 first-team all-league honors while playing for Grossmont High School in El Cajon, Calif. She batted .385 in her junior season.
"Signing Sarah Nicks is a huge signing for us," Triplett said. "Not only is she a great player, but it's where we need to add players. ... She hits the ball a long ways and we expect really good things from her."
The Beavers also signed Rachel Burdette, a pitcher/outfielder from Temecula, Calif.; Jenn Spencer, a 5-10 pitcher/first baseman from Winnipeg, Manitoba; and Leyna Downey, a pitcher/outfielder from Big Bend Community College (Wash.).
"I've told all these three kids, they may hit, they may not," Triplett said. "The two freshmen that are good hitters, I plan on them being in our lineup their second year here. ... They may have to play a year of JV and get a lot of at-bats, but we're gonna try and make them better hitters and better pitchers."
Spencer was a co-winner of an award given to the top softball player in Manitoba under the age of 18.
Triplett said he plans to recruit one more pitcher and one more catcher for the spring signing period.
Women's basketball team adds wing player
MSU women's basketball coach Sheila Green Gerding announced the signing of Diondra Denton on Wednesday.
Denton, a 5-foot-10 wing from Great Falls, Mont., averaged 11 points and 6.8 rebounds per game last season. She was named first-team all-state as a sophomore and junior.
"She is very, very athletic and physical," Green Gerding said in a press release. "She is strong enough to get to the basket whenever she wants and she's a winner. She helped her team to the state tournament all three seasons while in high school."
Denton is the fourth Montana prep player in the last two years to sign with MSU.