Johnson City, Tenn. (Nov. 20, 2003) - East Tennessee State's softball program signed three players to National Letters of Intent, head coach Amy Fuller announced Thursday. The Buccaneers will welcome top prospects Brittney Lehrschall (Leland, N.C.), Brittany Richardson (Knoxville, Tenn.) and Stephanie Cope (Maryville, Tenn.) to ETSU beginning with the 2005 season.
Lehrschall, a 6-foot-0 pitcher out of North Brunswick High School, was the North Carolina 1A MVP in 2002 and 2003, including the 1A "Miss Softball" Player of the Year, and four-time Coastal Plains Conference Player of the Year.
Lehrschall also played for the Carolina Flames along with current Buccaneers Janine Sprague and Belinda Berrera, where she helped lead the summer team to a third-place finish at this year's USFA Nationals and a second place finish at Pony Nationals. She hurled her North Brunswick squad to the 1A state championship after pitching a two-hitter in the championship game en route to being named the tourney's Most Valuable Player. A talented student as well, Lehrschall has served as class president at North Brunswick and is the National Honor Society Vice President.
"Obviously, we are thrilled to have signed perhaps the best pitcher in the state of North Carolina," said Fuller. "Brittney has enormous potential, and once she gets into a college conditioning program she has the ability to become a tremendous player within our program, the conference and the region."
Richardson comes out of Bearden High School, where she is regarded as one of the top catchers in the state. Richardson led the Knoxville Interscholastic League (KIL) in homeruns following her sophomore and junior seasons, and led the league in RBIs last year en route to garnering all-district accolades. She batted .358 as a junior while being named to multiple all-tournament teams throughout the region, including All-Eastman Invitational Tournament hosted by Dobyns-Bennett High School. Richardson's sister Danielle is currently the manager of the ETSU softball program.
"Brittany is definitely going to help us out right from the start, and we feel very fortunate to have gotten her," said Fuller. "She's a great person and a has a great personality. I just very excited for her." Brittany is the type of player who has power potential, which will help us since we will be losing some of that after this year. She is a tremendously hard worker, one of the tops catchers in the state, and a natural leader."
Cope will join the Bucs after a successful playing career at Maryville High School, which is heralded as one of the top 4A programs in Tennessee. Cope will be brought in to play the outfield for ETSU, but also has the potential to play middle infield. She was voted her team's best offensive player in the spring of 2003 on top of all-district accolades. Cope was also named all-county following the 2002 and 2003 seasons. She batted .373 last year and .403 over the summer.
"Stephanie will be an immediate asset to us offensively," said Fuller. "She is a real vocal leader on the field, and swings a big stick. She can also help us out in the middle infield as needed. Signing such a versatile player means a lot to our program.
"Overall, I am extremely pleased with this class so far," added Fuller. "Each of them has the ability to make us better and make a positive lasting impact on the Buc softball program."