Dec. 3, 2001
The beginning of practice for the 2002 Notre Dame softball season is less than a month away, but the Deanna Gumpf era of Irish softball is off to a strong start after signing five standouts during the summer recruiting period. Gumpf has officially announced the incoming freshman class for the 2003 season and the first Notre Dame recruiting effort under her leadership will be measured among the top classes in the nation.
Right-handed pitcher Heather Booth (Riverside, Calif.), catcher/infielder Mallorie Lenn (Garden Grove, Calif.), infielder/outfielder Kellie Middleton (Norcross, Ga.) infielder Meagan Ruthrauff (La Mirada, Calif.) and middle infielder/outfielder Sara Schoonaert (Houston, Texas) have all signed national letters of intent and will make up Notre Dame’s softball class of 2006.
“It is an awesome group of players and I am excited that this is my first recruiting class because I am very proud of it,” Gumpf says.
“It is a very exciting time for our program. We had been watching these players for a long time and some verbally committed early, which helped us compile a great class top to bottom.”
Right-handed pitching ace Heather Booth plays for Martin Luther King High School in Riverside, Calif., (the same hometown as current Irish all-star candidate Andrea Loman) and excels both in the pitching circle and on the volleyball court. The 2001 softball team MVP, Booth received the team’s Coach’s Award and Scholar Athlete Award last year. She posted 126 strikeouts over the course of the 2001 season with a 1.60 ERA and also batted .398.
“Heather is the whole package,” Gumpf says.
“She has great mechanics and has worked with one of the best pitching coaches in the country. She also throws hard, fields her position well and is an outstanding hitter.”
Mallorie Lenn hails from Pacifica High School in Garden Grove, Calif. Widely regarded as having one of the best swings in the country, Lenn backed up her reputation by smashing a home run at the 2001 summer league nationals off one of the top Division I pitchers in the nation. She was a 2000 NFCA All-American Scholar-Athlete and has earned both offensive and defensive player-of-the-year accolades during her career.
“Mallorie is one of the best hitters in the country,” Gumpf says.
“She has great mechanics and techniques at the plate. She works very hard and is just a phenomenal hitter.”
Meagan Ruthrauff is a member of the La Serna High School team in Whittier, Calif. She has hit over .300 every year of her high school career and has been a standout in ASA competition since she was nine years old. Her teams have finished no lower than fifth at each ASA national tournament in which she has competed. Last season as a infielder with La Serna, she hit .359 with 25 RBI and earned two tournament MVP awards.
“Meagan is a determined and passionate person,” Gumpf says.
“She is very driven and plays that way each day. Her energy and drive shows in every game that she plays. She really gets after it and will be a great player for us.”
Infielder/outfielder Kellie Middleton will bring an impressive mixture of speed and power to the Irish lineup next season. She is a member of the Marist High School softball team and owns most of the team’s school records, including most homeruns, most stolen bases, most triples and most doubles. Middleton cracked nine home runs last season and is a three-sport standout (softball, basketball and track). Her speed (timed at 12.00 in the 100-meters) allowed her to steal eight bases in one game during her prep career.
“Kellie is really going to turn some heads,” Gumpf says.
“She has power, speed, and a great arm. She possesses all the tools of someone that is going to get better and better at the collegiate level.”
The fifth member of the Irish class is infielder/outfielder Sara Schoonaert from Clear Lake High School in Houston, Texas. Also a member of the Houston Diamonds club team, she helped lead the team to a fifth-place finish at the 1999 AFA National Tournament and earned Freshman of the Year honors on the Clear Lake squad.
“Sara is Notre Dame,” Gumpf says.
“She is a great, great player who lives and dies with the University. She belongs here and will be a great addition to our program.”
With the Irish are coming off the most successful season in school history, Gumpf and her staff (assistant coaches Charmelle Green and Kris McCleary) were able to carry over the momentum of Notre Dame’s stellar 2001 campaign into the recruiting season.
“We knew we wanted to recruit some great athletes,” Gumpf says.
“We went out there thinking we wanted to find the best athletes we can. All five of these girls will have an immediate and lasting impact on our program.”