MUNCIE, Ind. - - Ball State softball first-year head coach Tyra Perry has signed her first four student-athletes to National Letters of Intent during the early signing period.
Set to join the Cardinals in the fall of 2014 are Julia Bailey (Lafayette, La./Teurlings Catholic), Leigh McAnally (Trussville, Ala./Hewitt-Trussville), Elise Sandberg (Mariette, Ga./Lassiter) and Carolyn Wilmes (Evansville, Ind./Mater Dei).
A projected middle infielder for the Cardinals, Bailey enters her senior season at Teurlings Catholic High School after earning second team all-district accolades as a utility player her junior year. A .384 batter last season, Bailey helped guide the Lady Rebels to a 23-7 overall record, a district title and state runner-up finish. She also tallied 10 multiple base hits on the year with five doubles, four triples and a home run.
“I am very excited Julia has chosen to continue her career at Ball State,” Perry said. “She is a talented utility player with the ability to contribute as a middle infielder and catcher. She competes for a strong high school program and with the Louisiana Voodoo travel team. Julia is from my home state of Louisiana, and I know she will do great things for the Cardinals.”
As a sophomore, Bailey earned first team all-district honors at shortstop after helping Teurlings Catholic capture the Louisiana High School Athletics Association Class 4A State Championship. The 2012 TCH squad finished the year with a 25-5 overall record and also posted a runner-up finish in the district tournament. Her freshman campaign, Bailey helped the Lady Rebels tally a 26-4 overall record, earn a district title and finish runner-up in the state tournament.
“I am ecstatic to be able to live out my dream of playing collegiate softball at Ball State University,” Bailey said. “I am very thankful and look forward to this experience I have been granted.”
A projected catcher for the Cardinals, McAnally enters her senior season at Hewitt-Trussville High School after being named the All-Metro Northeast Catcher of the Year for the fourth consecutive season as a junior. McAnally posted a .426 batting average and 43 RBI her junior season to help guide the Huskies to their fifth consecutive Area Championship. She was also nominated for the Alabama North/South Junior All-Star Team.
“Leigh is a great fit for our for our program and will bring much needed depth to our catching position,” Perry said. “She plays the game like a veteran, knows how to talk to pitchers and has a solid presence behind the plate.”
As a sophomore, McAnally posted a .407 batting average with a team-best 56 RBI. She also led the Huskies with 19 walks. During her freshman campaign, McAnally produced a .403 batting average with 49 RBI. McAnally was called up to the varsity team for the playoffs as a seventh grader, going 5-for-15 from the plate with three walks. She continued to play in the varsity squad in eighth grade, batting .398 with 32 RBI and a team-best 19 walks. In 112 at bats as an eighth grader, McAnally struck out just two times.
In addition to softball, McAnally is a four-year starter for the Hewitt-Trussville girls basketball team. She currently holds the state record for rebounds in a game, at 22, and was named to the All-Area Tournament Team.
“The opportunity that has been given to me is very exciting and uplifting,” McAnally said. “I cannot wait embark on the next chapter of my life at Ball State University. I know the next four years will be challenging. However, I look forward to anything that might come my way.”
A projected outfielder for the Cardinals, Sandberg finished her senior season at Lassiter High School this fall with a .404 batting average, 32 RBI, seven doubles, four triples and three home runs. For her efforts, Sandberg was named to the all-region first team and Co-Offensive Player of the Year. She helped guide the Trojans to a 32-8 record, a regional championship and a third-place finish at the Georgia High School Association Class AAAAAA State Softball Tournament as a senior.
“Elise is the true definition of a student-athlete,” Perry said. “She has done great things in the classroom and on the softball field. Elise has the ability to step in next season and make an immediate impact. She will provide speed and a lefty presence in the line-up.”
A four-year scholar athlete and member of the National Honor Society, Sandberg posted a .358 batting average and 25 RBI her junior season, while helping guide Lassiter to a 31-7 overall record and a fifth-place finish at the state tournament. As a sophomore, Sandberg was named first team all-region, honorable mention all-state and honorable mention all-county after posting a .382 batting average with 14 RBI. She helped guide Lassiter to a 24-10 record and a regional championship her sophomore season, and a 25-14 record and four-place finish at the state tournament her freshman year. Sandberg finished her career as a member of the winningest senior class in Lassiter softball history.
Sandberg also played travel softball for the EC Bullets and the Beverly Bandits, helping her squads place fifth at the 2013 PGF Nationals and to top 20 finishes at ASA in 2011 and 2012. She was also a member of the Lassiter track & field program.
"I could not be more excited to be a Ball State Cardinal,” Sandberg said. “I feel BSU is a great academic fit for me and offers an environment which will allow me to succeed both academically and athletically. The team and coaching staff have all been so welcoming, and I would like to thank Coach Perry for giving me this amazing opportunity. I have always wanted to be a part of a successful program, and I cannot wait to work hard to achieve greater success in the future. I could not be happier with my decision."
A projected pitcher for the Cardinals, Wilmes enters her senior season at Evansville Mater Dei High School after earning first team all-state honoree the past two seasons. During her junior campaign, Wilmes posted a 26-2 record in the circle to help guide the Wildcats to a 29-3 overall record, as well as regional and sectional titles. The All-Metro Player of the Year, Wilmes also posted a 0.48 earned run average and 365 strikeouts her junior season.
“Carolyn has the tools to become one of the top pitchers in the MAC,” Perry said. “She has a combination of speed and control that is any coach’s dream. We are proud to welcome Carolyn into the program.”
Wilmes was also named the Metro Player of the Year as a sophomore after posting an 18-6 record in the circle, to go along with a 1.17 ERA and 240 strikeouts. An ESPN Radio 106.7 FM Player of the Week selection, Wilmes led Mater Dei to a 20-7 record her sophomore campaign. Wilmes has also success in the batter’s box, hitting .312 with 19 RBI as a junior and .356 with 30 RBI as a sophomore.“I am very excited to be part of the Ball State family,” Wilmes said. “I cannot wait to see what goals we can achieve and how the softball program is going to grow. Softball has always been a passion of mine, and I am glad I get to continue my passion by playing for Ball State.”