Nov. 19, 2013
GREENVILLE, N.C. - Head Coach Beth Keylon-Randolph announced the additions of Mary Sloan Bradford, Kerry Butler, Ashley Cruise and Karlie Smith to the East Carolina softball team's 2014 recruiting class during the NCAA's Early Signing Period.
All four have signed a National Letter of Intent and will begin classes at ECU next fall with eligibility beginning with the 2014-15 season.
"I couldn't be happier with what is arguably my first recruiting class," said Randolph, who is preparing for her second season at the helm of the program. "They are quality student-athletes from great homes and are what I look for in prospective players. Not only will they represent themselves well, they will excel in their own right on the field and in the classroom. Mary Sloan, Karlie and Ashley will all be great ambassadors for East Carolina University."
Mary Sloan Bradford Winter Garden, Fla. Outfielder
Bradford, a right-handed outfielder, led her team to the 8A state semifinals with a 25-6 overall record and was the team's leader in nine offensive categories, including home runs (8) and RBIs (34) in the spring of 2013. Bradford also hit .459 and stole 19 bases during her junior season. Her performance made her a First-Team All-Central Florida selection by the Orlando Sentinel, in addition to being named to the All-Metro Conference team.
"Mary Sloan is one of those players that is definitely a five-tool ball player. At 5'5 she hits for power, has a cannon for an arm, runs like a deer, hits for a high average and can field a ball like no other. Mary Sloan will come in immediately and have a major impact in the batting order and patrolling one of the outfield positions. Her abilities, drive, desire and determination to be the best are qualities that will uphold my expectations for Pirate softball. Academically, she gets it done with excellence in the classroom. Her need to win keeps her a well-rounded person, academically, athletically and socially."
Kerry Butler Barnegat, N.J. Infielder
Butler, a left-handed hitter known for her combination of quickness and power, was a four-year starter under Barnegat head coach Laura Miller. A three-time Second Team All-Shore Conference honoree and a First Team All Coaches Division selection in 2013, Butler earned rookie-of-the-year honors as a freshman in 2011, before being named the team's best offensive player in 2012 and 2013. She was also an honorable mention Atlantic City Press All-Star last year, where she became the first junior in school history to record 100-career hits, while leading the Bengals in batting average, singles, triples, runs scored on-base percentage and slugging percentage. Prior to her senior season in 2014, Butler has already amassed the most hits in school history. Her sister, Stephanie, is a sophomore shortstop for Villanova's softball program.
Ashley Cruise Kingston, N.Y. Pitcher
A pitcher, Cruise was named a First-Team All-Star by the Times Herald Record after posting a 13-3 record to go along with a 1.40 ERA and 164 strikeouts in 110 innings during her junior season in 2013. Cruise spun her first no-hitter of her high school career with 13 strikeouts on April 16, while recording the team's only hit on an RBI double in a 4-0 victory.
"Her sometimes shy off field demeanor quickly turns to a New York mentality when she enters the circle on the diamond. She will have an immediate positive impact with our team. With five legitimate pitches that actually do what they are named, Ashley, at 5'7, can spot the ball on a dime. Her competiveness in the circle will help continue setting the standard of what Pirate softball is all about. Not wanting to be a one-dimensional person, Ashley excels in the classroom at the highest level. Her unquenchable desire to win is constantly evident on the field and in the classroom."
Karlie Smith Dagsboro, Del. Shortstop
Smith, a shortstop at Indian River High School in Dagsboro, Del., was a First-Team all-state selection by the Delaware State News as a junior last season. This past August, Smith helped Delaware to the Big League Softball World Series with an 11-6 win over Puerto Rico in the championship game. Outside of softball, Smith was also a state qualifier in multiple events as a swimmer at Indian River.
"At 5'9, Karlie is one of those players who is a coach's dream. She grades out consistently with one of the top throwing arms in the country and plays the left side of the infield with precision. Her ability to hit the ball hard and with power has been on display since she started playing. Karlie, like Mary Sloan, will be counted on to make an immediate difference in the production of Pirate softball. Going along with her tremendous athletic ability and production is her 4.00 GPA in the classroom. Karlie is a meticulous, pay-attention-to-detail sort of person, which will yield positive results for her both on the field and off."