UMBC Head Softball Coach Heather Gelbard announced on Tuesday the signing of six players to her first recruiting class.
Amber Badillo, Imani Dawson, Julia Keffler, Anna Lonchar, Sierra Pierce and Kay Solderitch will all be joining the Retriever family next fall.
"I am excited to announce our 2017 signees. We are welcoming to the UMBC family an athletic group who I think will complement our returning team nicely and help fill the holes left by an outstanding graduating class. This class has everything you could want as a coach: speed, power, versatility, softball IQ…but most importantly, every kid in this class has demonstrated the kind of intangible qualities we look for. They are good character kids who work hard, and are tough physically and mentally. Many of them have been multi-sport athletes throughout their high school career, which I think speaks to their athleticism," Gelbard said. "As they say, it takes a village. I again have to thank my predecessor, Joe French, as he played a big role in recruiting three of our signees. I also need to thank my staff, Carla and Annie have worked tirelessly to help make our first signing class a special group."
Imani Dawson is a three-sport star at local Seton Keough High School. In addition to being a standout utility player for the Softball program, she was named the Gators' 2016 MVP for the Volleyball and Track teams, as well as being the track team captain. Dawson has an impressive resume off the field as well as she is a member of three separate honor societies (National, Spanish and Math) and vice president of her class. She plans to major in Biology or Biochemical Engineering with a career ambition of becoming a seriologist or medical examiner.
Anna Lonchar comes from Patriot High School in Northern Virginia where she has been a member of the Varsity Softball team since her freshman year. She is third baseman and a catcher and is a three-time first-team all-conference and has won multiple team Silver Slugger awards for highest batting average on her squad. Lonchar also is a three-year member of the varsity basketball team.
"Imani and Anna stayed committed to the program through Coach French's retirement, which speaks greatly to their character. On top of that, they are both versatile athletes who hit the ball with consistency and power," Gelbard said. "Imani is fast and has a great arm, and she could probably play any position on the field. Anna does a nice job behind the plate, and has a lot of pop in her bat."
Sierra Pierce is a power-hitting outfielder from the Youngstown (OH) suburb of Austintown. She holds the Ohio state high school record for consecutive games with a home run (seven) and was named first-team all conference in 2015 and to the second team in 2014 and 2016. Pierce is a member of the National Honor Society and plans to major in Visual Arts with career goal of becoming an interior designer.
Amber Badillo is high-average hitting catcher from Mohegan Lake (NY) just outside of New York City. A starter since her freshman season for the Varsity team at Lakeland Senior High School, she has a career average of .463 with 22 home runs, 94 RBI and a .532 OBP in her first three years. She is a three-time New York Section 1 Class A All-League player, as well as being named to the New York Section 1 Class A All-State team as a junior and a three-time member of the New York Section 1 Class A all-sectional team.
"I am excited about Sierra's potential to hit for power. She's a smart player who understands how to use her body to generate a lot of force on the ball," Gelbard said. "Amber has a ton of natural power but is also a very consistent hitter with a fundamentally sound swing. She does a nice job in the infield and behind the plate."
Julia Keffler is a utility player from Southern Maryland's Huntingtown High School. She has been named to the all-conference and all-county teams in each of her first three season and has also been twice named as honorable mention to the Washington Post's All-Metro Team. Keffler is a member of the National Honor Society, has earned the Principal's excellence award and plans to major in Biology to pursue a career in the medical field.
Kay Solderitch is a pitcher/outfielder from just outside Allentown (PA). As a junior, Solderitch was the Area Pitcher of the Year, conference MVP, first-team all-conference and an All-State honorable mention after going 17-6 with a sub 1.4 ERA, 167 strikeouts and 52 walks. She was also named first-team all-conference as a utility player her sophomore year. Off the field, Solderitch is Vice President of the Student Council, a member of three honor societies (National, Science and Spanish) and works with the Big Brother Big Sister Organization.
"Julia brings a lot of speed and versatility to our '17 class. She is another kid who could see time in the infield or outfield," Gelbard said. "Kay is a versatile player, and I expect her to see time both in the pitching circle and in the outfield for us. She is as tough as they come, and I expect that to be a great asset to her and our team."