Under coach Marci Jobson, the Baylor soccer team has established itself as a perennial top 25 team and a brand new threat in the NCAA tournament in recent years.
That national recognition came to bear Wednesday when the Bears inked another solid seven-player class. And they needed it. Baylor loses a seven-player senior class that led Baylor to a 19-1-3 mark and to the third round of the NCAA tourney last season. Included in that group were cornerstones like Hanna Gilmore, Lisa Sliwinski and Dana Larsen.
In all, Baylor signed two defenders, two midfielders and two forwards in addition to a goalkeeper on national signing day. Five players are from Texas.
The Baylor track and field team also welcomed in a new class for 2013-2014. Baylor coach Todd Harbour signed 11 players Wednesday in a distance-heavy class.
“I think we filled the needs we have,” Jobson said. “We graduate an exceptional class, but these freshmen I think have a lot of potential to come in and make an impact right away. And I think their athleticism is tremendous in this class, their speed, and our conference is all about speed and athleticism. They’re also very good soccer players, so I’m really excited about the ‘13 class.”
Signees Ashley York (midfield), Sara Martinson (keeper) and Emory Carson (defender) played together on the D’Feeters club team in the Dallas area. All three were highly lauded during their high school careers, and it fell into place that all three chose Baylor.
“It really just happened that way,” Jobson said. “We were really interested in the three girls we got from that club. They all decided to come so we were excited about that. I think those three are going to come in and make an impact right away.”
Yakima, Wash. defender Lindsay Burns, Grapevine midfielder Bridget Hamway and Poteet forward Kaylah Hunter round out the freshman signees. Baylor also welcomes in University of Tennessee transfer forward Iyana Moore, who scored four goals for the Volunteers last season. Top Drawer Soccer rated the Marietta, Ga. native a four-star recruit out of high school in 2011.
As for Harbour’s class, Baylor’s haul includes three men and eight women, nine of whom are distance runners. Midway pole vaulter Annie Rhodes and Killeen Shoemaker thrower Cion Hicks are also in the mix. Both were ranked in the top two in the nation in their events.
Rhodes in particular was a huge get for Baylor. She had offers from a number of schools, but the 2011 4A state girls’ pole vault champion settled on staying close to home.
“The class on the women’s side overall, you’re just very excited about it,” Harbour said. “To sign one of those girls, and that’s all we would’ve signed, I still would be just jumping for joy right now because they’re both just incredible young ladies.”
Middle distance runner Sofia Pitoulis was another big signing for Baylor. Harbour traveled to Barcelona, Spain to watch the Athens, Greece native run, and he came away impressed. Pitoulis holds the 1500-meter youth national record and totaled five national first-place finishes, two in cross country and three in the 1500 meters.
Distance runners Madison Zimmerman (Frisco Wakeland), Peyton Thomas (Roswell, Ga.), Lindsey Smith (Highlands Rach, Colo.), Maggie Montoya (Rogers, Ark.) and Alex Davis (Ardmore, Okla.) round out the class on the women’s side.
Baylor reeled in three men’s recruits, one of which, Alex Foster, is a transfer from City College of San Francisco. He did his best work there in the 800-meters and on the 4x400 team. Fellow middle distance runner Randall Dias (Albuquerque, N.M.) and distance runner Jordan West (Chesterfield, Mo.) polish off the class.