EDWARDSVILLE – SIUE softball head coach Sandy Montgomery has announced six new additions for the 2015-16 roster.
The list of incoming student-athletes include Jessica Poore (Grover, Missouri), Alyssa Heren (Saline, Michigan), Victoria Beachum (East Alton, Illinois), Zoe Schafer (Noblesville, Indiana), Savannah Fisher (Hallsville, Missouri), and Janie Smith (Wheaton, Illinois).
SIUE is coming off a historic 2014 season in which the Cougars won their first Ohio Valley Conference Tournament and advanced to the NCAA Division I Championship. The Cougars finished the season with a 30-23 record.
"Every year we continue to try to recruit at a high level and bring in players who are athletic, strong, and versatile who can come in and make an immediate impact on our program," said Montgomery. "I'm not afraid to play freshmen. I want freshmen to come in and push the upperclassmen because that's what makes you better every year. This group certainly can do that."
Beachum is a two-time third team All-State selection as a pitcher at East Alton-Wood River High School.
"She is a big, strong, and athletic player who has a huge upside," said Montgomery. "She plays at a small school at EAWR and for the Collinsville Extreme Elite program where I know she is getting good coaching."
Beachum holds the single-season record for strikeouts at EA-WR. Last season, she hurled 154 innings, recording 253 strikeouts with a 2.00 earned run average. She holds the single-game strikeouts record for the Oilers with 24.
"She will bring a great dynamic to the pitching staff," said Montgomery.
Beachum also led EAWR with a .403 batting average, a .535 on-base percentage, and a .493 slugging percentage as a junior.
"She hits from the left side and can play some outfield. I think she has a lot of potential," added Montgomery.
Her current summer team, Collinsville Extreme Elite, takes her all over the country, playing in numerous state and national competition, including Class A state and nationals, Gold Nationals, and other elite-level tournaments.
She is the daughter of Michael and Michelle Beachum.
A second team All-Conference selection in 2013 at Eureka High School, Poore missed her senior high school season due to an injury but is well on her way back to being ready for the spring travel season.
"I'm looking forward seeing her back on the field doing her thing," said Montgomery. "She can play second and the outfield. We're certainly excited to have her be a part of our program."
Poore was the Rookie of the Year at Eureka in 2011 and went on to be named to the All-State Academic team and in 2013. She also was selected for the Eureka Scholar-Athlete award in 2013.
"Jessica is a versatile player. She has a great attitude and work ethic," said Montgomery.
Poore plays for Collinsville Extreme Elite and was named the 2014 Defensive Player of the Year. She coupled that award with winning Offensive Player of the Year honors in 2013. She helped Collinsville Extreme Elite to 16th place nationally at the ASA/USA Nationals in 2012 and has played in the Colorado All-Star game for three consecutive years.
She is the daughter of Jerry and Melissa Poore.
Heren helped Michigan Finesse to a fifth-place finish at the ASA/USA 16U Nationals in 2014.
"Alyssa is a left-handed hitting outfielder who has great range. She has a nice arm and understands how to play the position," said Montgomery.
Heren was an All-State, All-Region, All-District, and All-Conference pick in 2014 as a second baseman at Saline High School. She batted .500 with a .970 slugging percentage, helping her team to a 37-3 record and a district championship.
"She will bring some speed to our team that we need. She is an experienced outfielder at the summer ball level," Montgomery said.
Heren helped Saline to its first-ever regional championship in softball. Montgomery said her approach at the plate is versatile. She can be a slap hitter or drive the ball to the gaps.
"She is deceptive because she can hit the ball out of the park as well," added Montgomery.
She is the daughter of Susan and Dieter Heren.
An All-State first baseman at Noblesville High School in 2014, she has been an All-Hoosier Crossroads Conference performer for three straight seasons.
"Zoe is a game savvy player," said Montgomery. "She plays in the Indy Dreams organization and is going to come in and make an immediate impact on our program."
Schafer has a long list of prep awards, including Triple Crown Sports All-American team and Indiana's Top 100.
She led her team in home runs and RBIs in each of the last two seasons and was among the conference's top three hitters in home runs and batting average in 2014.
"She swings the bat well and plays great under pressure," Montgomery said. "Every time we have seen her she has hit a home run or a double."
Schafer also has a high level of prowess defensively, earning a Golden Glove Award in 2012.
"She is certainly going to give everyone a run for their money for a starting position once she arrives here," Montgomery said.
She is the daughter of Chris and Michelle Schafer.
A consistent .400 hitter over her Hallsville High School career, Savannah Fisher brings huge potential to the Cougars.
"She is someone we found at one of our camps," said Montgomery. "She is big, strong, and has tremendous speed."
A two-time All-State pick and a four-time All-Conference selection, she collected 137 hits at Hallsville with a career batting average of .431 and a slugging percentage of .695.
"Savannah can cover a lot of ground in the outfield. We're excited about her and her potential," said Montgomery.
Fisher finished her high school career ninth on the career home run list in Missouri with 21 and seventh with 0.22 per game.
She is the daughter of Byron and Jennifer Fisher.
"A cannon of an arm" is how Montgomery describes Janie Smith.
The starting shortstop at St. Francis College Prep in Wheaton, Illinois, Smith can play several positions and has been noted for arm speed and accuracy along with athleticism and versatility. She has recorded an overhand throw of 67 miles per hour.
"That is outstanding for a young player," said Montgomery.
During the fall 2014 travel season with the Naperville Diamonds, Smith posted a .419 batting average with a .514 on-base percentage and an .806 slugging percentage. Smith hit .500 with runners in scoring position and led the team in home runs.
"She could have the strongest arm we have had in our program. She can play shortstop and has caught. She is small, very quick and has great range at shortstop. Defensively at shortstop she can cover ground whether it's the infield or outfield," said Montgomery.
Smith has helped St. Francis College Prep to regional championships in 2013 and 2014. She plans to pursue a degree in speech pathology at SIUE.
She is the daughter of Craig and Michel Smith.