December 8, 2011

Softball program adds standouts from Tennessee, Virginia and California

COOKEVILLE Tenn. – The Tennessee Tech softball team has been bolstered for the coming years with the recent signing of three high school standouts hailing from Tennessee, California and Virginia.

Veteran Golden Eagle coach Tory Acheson announced the signing of Madison Taylor, an outfielder from Mt. Juliet, Tenn., Daniele McHugh, a utility player from Alexandria, Va., and Olivia Bennett, an infielder/outfielder from Redlands, Calif.

“Tech softball is very happy to introduce the newest members of the program,” Acheson said. “Madison, Dani and Olivia are great kids who will all make a very positive impact on our team. With these additions I feel like we are taking another step towards competing at the highest level, on the field, while maintaining our emphasis on academic success.

“We are always looking for players who have a great work ethic and are willing to push themselves to achieve at a high level,” he said.  “All three of these players have the intangibles we are looking for and we are very excited to have them join our team.”

Madison Taylor is the daughter of Kevin and Melissa Taylor currently in her senior year at Mt. Juliet High School. She will play this season for coach Brad Rowlett after three seasons for the Lady Bears under coach Casey Pedigo. An Honors student, Taylor was the team’s Defensive Player of the Year in 2010 and the Offensive Player of the Year in 2011. She was an All-District 9AAA selection and earned district all-tournament honors while leading her team to the district, regional and sectional championships last spring and a spot in the TSSAA state tournament.

As a junior, she hit .478 with a .693 slugging percentage. She led the team with five home runs and 54 RBI.

Taylor has also played with Fury Fastpitch, nationally recognized as Tennessee’s premier select travel team, twice playing in the ASA National Tournament.

“Madison comes to us from Mount Juliet High School and the Fury travel ball organization,” Acheson said. “We have several Fury players in our program and they have always done a good job of preparing their players to play at the highest level.  

“Maddie is a very talented left-handed hitter who has been a mainstay in the outfield for her high school and travel ball teams,” Acheson said. “She is a great student who will help us maintain our high level of academic achievement.  We are very excited to add another very strong Tennessee player to our program.  She will compete for a starting spot next year.”

Danielle McHugh is the daughter of Larry and Angela McHugh, and ranked near the top of her class at Potomoc West High School in Alexandria. She plans to major in journalism.

A versatile athlete, McHugh lettered in basketball and volleyball in addition to an award-winning career for coach Craig Maniglia on the softball team. A first-team all-district and first-team All-Northern Region pick, she was also an honorable mention all-state honoree while playing right field and batting .418. McHugh played her travel ball with the Vienna Stars and Shamrocks, and this past summer with NJ Intensity. She was also selected this year for the Adidas Futures Softball Camp.

“Dani is a very strong student-athlete who will make her mark on the field and in the classroom,” Acheson said. “She has played for several very strong east coast travel ball teams over the past few years and her experience with those programs have her well prepared to compete for a spot next year.  

“Dani came to our Holiday Mini-Camp last year and made a great impression with her work ethic and love for the game.  She is a very strong student who will help our program continue to achieve at a very high level in the classroom.  We are very excited to have her join our program,” Acheson said.

Olivia Bennett is the daughter of Jennifer Bennett and stepdaughter of Manny Gonzalez of Redlands, Calif., and plans to study psychology.  She earned four letters for coaches Jim Cruz and Debbie Garcia and is an Honors student at Redlands East Valley High School.

Bennett plays third base and outfield for the Wildcats, earning second-team All-Citrus Belt league honors as a freshman and junior. Last spring she batted .347 with a slugging percentage of .476. She was a fixture for the Arsenal travel team for the past two years.

“Olivia is a very talented player who comes to Tech from a very successful travel ball program in California,” Acheson said. “Arsenal does a great job of preparing their players for the rigors of Division I softball with a comprehensive training system.  

“We are very excited to have “O” join the Tech softball family and we see a very bright future for her.  She is a very talented hitter and a great athlete who can play several positions.  We expect her to compete for a spot right away,” he added.