SPRINGFIELD – Missouri State softball head coach Holly Hesse
announced Wednesday the receipt of National Letters of Intent from six high school seniors on the opening day of the 2019 NLI signing period.
Committing to the Bears for the 2020 season were:
- Gracie Johnston (P, 5-6, Augusta, Kan. Augusta High)
- Kelsie Lewis (SS, 5-5, Plattsburg, Mo., Plattsburg High)
- Meagan McCorkell (3B/OF, 5-7, Barnhart, Mo., Seckman High)
- Jacie Taber (P/OF, 5-9, Sand Springs, Okla., Charles Page High)
- Kat Taylor (IF/OF, 5-5, Bixby, Okla., Bixby High)
- Tess Weakly (C/3B, 5-7, Elsberry, Mo., Elsberry High)
"I am very excited about our signing class," Hesse said. "We have addressed a lot of long-term needs and brought in quality individuals who will help our program in multiple ways. As always, I am proud of the job done by our coaching staff in the recruiting process and appreciate the hard work they put in to help
Hesse is in her 31st season leading the Bears' program and is the second-winningest coach in Missouri Valley Conference history with 781 victories.
All six players in this year's recruiting class are all-state selections from their respective high school programs.
Joining the Missouri State program next season are:
Gracie Johnston (P, 5-6, Augusta, Kan., Augusta High)
Johnson has led the Augusta (Kan.) High School Orioles to a pair of conference titles and one runner-up finish in her first three seasons. She earned all-state second-team honors as a junior for coach Jamie Van Dever after earning AVCTL conference MVP laurels in the spring 2018 season for a 19-2 club. Johnson pitched four shutouts in 10 starts in the spring of 2018, while striking out 10 or more hitters five times, including a season-best 18-strikeout game. She was also part of a state final four team her freshman season. Johnston, was a state qualifier in golf this fall, finishing 37th
at the Kansas state championships and earning second-team all-conference honors. She plays travel ball for Originals Simbeck.
"Gracie is a power pitcher who brings an intense competitive spirit to our team," Hesse said. "She wants to play the best and beat the best each time she steps onto the mound. She will add important depth to our pitching staff."
Kelsie Lewis (SS, 5-5, Plattsburg, Mo., Plattsburg High)
Lewis is a three-sport standout at Plattsburg (Mo.) High School where she helped the Tigers to a 27-5 record during her senior season this fall for coach Jason Boldt. The shortstop has broken the school record for runs batted in three consecutive years, including a career-best 43 this season for a district runner-up team. She earned first-team all-state honors in 2018 for the second year in a row, while earning all-district, all-conference and all-region honors for the fourth time. She also scored 38 runs, compiled a .964 slugging percentage and had just one error in 113 defensive chances. Lewis also is starting guard for the Plattsburg basketball team and throws javelin for the track team in the spring. She played travel ball for KC Gold and now plays for Select Softball.
"Kelsie is a talented athlete with real game sense and a strong throwing arm," said Hesse. "She has great hands and makes exciting plays on the infield with her range and reactions. She is also a hitter who comes in clutch at the plate and consistently produces RBI."
Meagan McCorkell (3B/OF, 5-7, Barnhart, Mo., Seckman High)
McCorkell smacked 10 home runs and drove in 36 runs for a 17-6 team this fall at Seckman High School in Imperial, Mo. She batted .494 for coach Steve Bonastia's Jaguars with a school-record 1.013 slugging percentage. The 2018 all-state first-teamer ended her prep career as the program's all-time leader in home runs (19) and runs scored (115). McCorkell was a four-time All-Suburban West Conference pick and a three-time academic all-state selection by the MSHSFCA. She also earned all-district honors three times and al-region honors twice, while guiding Seckman to a pair of district titles and one district runner-up finish over her last three years. Her freshman season, McCorkell batted .404, reaching safely in 28 of her last 32 varsity at-bats on the campaign. She plays travel ball for Missouri Fury Gold.
"Meagan will bring a big bat with home run power to our lineup," Hesse explained. "She comes to our team with high energy, confidence, and the talent to help us in a variety of ways on the field."
Jacie Taber (P/OF, 5-6, Sand Springs, Okla., Charles Page High)
A three-year starter at Charles Page High in Sand Springs, Okla., Taber is coming off an all-state effort for coach Shelly Brown's team. She went 6-1 in the circle as a senior with a 1.58 ERA and earned district pitcher of the year laurels for the second year in a row. She also batted .411 in 2018 with 25 RBI, 11 steals and a dozen extra-base hits. She drove in 32 runs her junior year with a 16-3 ledger in the circle to go with 118 strikeouts and a 2.04 ERA. She also struck out 98 hitters as a sophomore with 11 wins and a 1.78 ERA. She was a three-time all-district pick for the Sandites and was part of four regional championship teams. Taber is also a starting guard and forward for the Charles Page basketball team. She plays travel ball for Tulsa Elite.
"Jacie will make an immediate impact on the mound," said Hesse. "She is a competitor who plays with confidence and can shut down an offense. She has the ability to be a difference maker for us with her talent."
Kat Taylor (IF/OF, 5-5, Bixby, Okla., Bixby High)
A top-notch defensive standout, Taylor earned Oklahoma all-state honors and was a state finalist for the Wendy's High School Heisman her senior season at Bixby (Okla.) High. She was also a four-time academic all-conference pick for coach Joy Marie Galliart and earned all-district distinction three times. She was Spartans' team captain her last two seasons and was a key part of a 29-10 campaign in 2017 for Bixby. She also won the team's highest honor – The Spartan Award – twice during her prep career. Taylor is also a standout track athlete and plays travel softball with the Tulsa Shootout.
"Kat will bring steady, consistent play to our defense," Hesse explained. "She brings a feisty, determined lefty bat to our lineup and knows how to get on base and make things happen. She is full of positive energy and is fun to watch on the field.
Tess Weakly (C/3B, 5-7, Elsberry, Mo., Elsberry High)
Weakly batted .645 and drove in 32 runs her senior season at Elsberry (Mo.) High School where she was a first-team all-state selection for coach Trudy Bull in 2018. She helped the Indians to a 15-5 overall record and Eastern Missouri Conference runner-up finish after hitting nine home runs and compiling a remarkable .725 on-base percentage. She was a three-time all-conference selection, a three-time academic all-state honoree, and she twice earned all-district and all-region distinction. Weakly was also EHS team MVP three times, batting .529 as a junior with 30 RBI and hitting .418 as a sophomore. She is also an all-conference, all-district and all-region point guard on the Elsberry basketball team for former Missouri State standout Kari Koch-Dowell. Weakly plays travel softball with St. Louis Chaos Gold, a team that finished second at the 2018 USA Softball Junior Olympic Cup.
"Tess brings a strong, quick and accurate arm behind the plate which makes for great defense against would-be base stealers," Hesse noted. "She also has the ability to step up to the plate and change the game with one swing of the bat. Her strength and power will be a great addition to the middle of our lineup."