Nov. 22, 2005

UTA Head Softball Coach Debbie Hedrick stocked up on pitching, signing three high school pitchers - including all-state pitcher Casey Clifton - to highlight five signings during the early signing period that ended Nov. 15, 2005.

Signing National Letters of Intent to join UTA in 2006 is Samantha Chumchal, catcher from Brazoswood High School; Heather Collie, a catcher/third baseman from Richland Hills High School; Clifton, a pitcher/first baseman from Longview High School; Heather Fortenberry, a pitcher and utility player from Mesquite Poteet High School and Cara Hulme, a pitcher/first baseman from Van High School.

"We are very excited to be able to sign the quality we did," said Hedrick, who begins her 10th season as the head coach of the Mavs on Feb. 7, 2006, at the University of Hawaii Tournament. "We signed quality pitching and catching and they also bring some power to the lineup. They are also capable of playing another position. Each player has a tremendous upside and will have an opportunity to make an immediate contribution to the ballclub."

Clifton is a Texas Girls Coaches Association Class 5A second-team all-state pitcher at Longview High School in 2005. She has compiled a 33-16 record with a 0.95 ERA and 465 strikeouts through her first three seasons. Clifton was named the District 11-5A Pitcher of the Year in 2004 and 12-5A Pitcher of the Year 2005. She was named to the all-East Texas First Team as a sophomore and junior and was named first-team all-state as a sophomore. Clifton was the district's Newcomer of the Year as a freshman in 2003. Academically, Clifton is a member of the National Honor Society, Who's Who Among American High School Students, Distinguished Honor Roll and the Honor Roll. She played summer softball with the Texas Elite Easton.

"Casey can throw an assortment of pitches," said Hedrick. "She can throw off-speed, but is also capable of being a power pitcher. She has the ability to play first base and has the power to be an offensive threat."

Chumchal was named second-team all-District 24-5A at catcher for Brazoswood High School. She ranks top 10 in her weight class in the Texas High School Women's Powerlifting Association. She finished second in the 2004 state powerlifting meet while being named all-area and the district's Newcomer of the Year." She earned all-district in powerlifting as a sophomore. She played for the Texas High Voltage Gold team in summer softball. A Globe Scholar, Chumchal received the High Cougar Award for excellence at athletics and academics at Brazoswood in 2002. She was named the team "MVP" in basketball and volleyball for her freshman squad at Brazoswood High School in 2002.

"Samantha is a strong athlete, a smart catcher with a strong accurate arm. She will also bring a strong bat to our lineup and can hit for power and average."

Heather Collie is a catcher and third baseman from North Richland Hills High School. She was named the defensive player of the year and first-team all-District 6-4A as a sophomore in 2004 and second-team all-District 5-5A in 2005. She was named the tournament "MVP" at five ASA tournaments during 2003. She earned the World Series Outstanding Player Award and was named to the United States Speciality Sports Association (USSSA) 2003 World Series All-World Team. Academically, is a member of Who's Who Among American High School Students and has been in the top five percent of the class since 2003. She earned the academic excellence award at North Richland Hills High School since her freshman year. Collie played summer softball with the Spark Plugs.

"Collie has a strong accurate arm who could see time at both catcher and third base. She also brings powerful bat to the lineup."

Fortenberry was named the District 11-4A "MVP" and was named to the TGCA All-State Team. As a sophomore at Mesquite Poteet High School, she was the district's "Pitcher of the Year" off the region champion squad. Fortenberry earned the Dallas Morning News' All-Area Team and Newcomer of the Year" in 2003. Academically, she was named to the all-academic team for the past three seasons. In select softball play, she a member of the Allen Eagle Express team that won the USFA World Series National Champions. In 2004, the Eagle Express was runner-up for the 2004 USFGA World Series. She played for the Texas Rapid Fire last summer.

"Heather has a passion for the game, she wants the ball," said Hedrick. "She has a variety of pitches to compliment her change up. With her mix of speed and off-speed, she keeps the hitter off balance. Heather has a nice swing and is capable of hitting for power and average."

Hulme was to the TGCA Class 3A All-State Team named the District 15-3A "MVP" as a junior. She compiled a 28-3 record with a 0.68 ERA and 347 strikeouts a year ago and has a 36-6 mark with a 0.69 ERA over two seasons. She has been named first-team all-district for three straight seasons, as a designated hitter during her freshman campaign and as a pitcher as a sophomore and junior. At the plate, Hulme has 28 extra base hits, including 16 home runs over two seasons. She has earned all-district, all-county and all-East Texas honors in volleyball. Academically, Hulme is a member of the National Honor Society and academic all-district. She played summer softball with the Texas Travelers.

"Cara throws hard and mixes her pitches well," said Hedrick. "She has the ability to pitch with power. She can play first base and could see time there as well. She brings a powerful swing to the lineup."




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