The Chattanooga Lady Mocs softball team announced Monday its five-member signing class for the early signing period. The class includes the No. 42 player in the nation, Cori Jennings, as ranked by Student Sports “Hot 100 Seniors” and lists the group just outside its Top 25 Classes as a bubble team. Four of the five signees are members of the Tennessee Fury 96 travel team.
“It is exciting to find out we are one of the top recruiting classes,” Head Coach Frank Reed said. “We felt like the 2014 class was going to be really strong for us.”
Jennings is joined by Ashley Conner, Taylor Parker, Jordyn Hamill and Kailey Palazzolo to complete Reed’s signing group. Jennings and Palazzolo each pitch, Connor and Hamill are sure-handed middle infielders, and the head coach of the Lady Mocs describes Parker as “not your typical catcher.”
A left-handed hurler from Brush Creek, Tenn., Jennings represents Chattanooga’s most notable signee. A member of the Tennessee Fury, the pitcher/first baseman has seen great success at both the high school and club level. For Gordonsville High School, Jennings was an 8A All-District member from 2011-13 and the district’s Most Valuable Player in 2012. She was named to the Associated Press All-State team from 2011-13 and a Tennessean All Mid-State member in 2013. She also led the Tigers to a Class A State Runner Up title.
Her Fury team received four top-10 finishes at ASA Nationals and was crowned champions of the ASA Hall of Fame Tournament in 2009.
“She brings great control and is a great left-handed pitcher,” Reed said. “She can hit and play a little defense for us. She brings a lot to the table.”
Also in the circle fort the signing class is right-hander Kailey Palazzolo. A Chino Hills, Calif., native, the pitcher first caught the attention of UTC coaches with her bat rather than her pitching arsenal.
“She hits the ball really well. We started watching her from the hitter’s side several years ago before we realized how well she pitched. She can play just about anywhere and can see her bat in the lineup.”
A senior at Don Antonio Lugo High School and a member of the California Cruisers 18 Gold travel team, Palazzolo has been named a Mt. Bradley League CIF First Team and All-Inland Valley Second Team honoree the past three seasons. Last season, she was named DALHS’s Most Valuable Player and has earned captain status for the upcoming softball season.
Moving from the circle to the middle infield, signee Jordyn Hamill reigns from Chickamauga, Ga., and is a four-time state champion with Head Coach Dana Mull’s Gordon Lee High School Trojans.
“Jordyn has great hands and hits the ball really well,” Reed said. “She brings a lot of uniqueness to the team and we can see her doing multiple things for us.”
A smart base runner and versatile fielder, Hamill also has experience in the outfield. Hamill could draw comparison to Mocs’ sophomore Sam Taylor (Chickamauga, Ga.) who was also a middle infielder with a great bat who made the transition from shortstop to outfielder almost seamlessly. Hamill and Taylor were team mates with Mull’s Trojans.
Also signed as an infielder is two-time State Champion Ashley Connor. Listed as a second baseman and shortstop, Connor played at Northwest Whitfield High School where she holds the record for most career doubles at NWHS. The 2010 and 2012 All-State shortstop is a native of Dalton, Ga, and is a member of the Tennessee Fury summer team. A champion on the field as well as in the classroom, Conner boasts a 4.0 GPA and has lettered in academics three years.
“She has a strong bat and is a compact kid. She hits the ball well and is a great runner. She brings a lot to the table as far as what she can do for us. I can see her at either second base or on the corner.”
Rounding out the class is catcher Taylor Parker from Richland High School. The fourth member of the Fury 96 team, Parker’s resume includes both the season homerun record (13) and career homerun record (29) at Richland. The power-hitting backstop was named District MVP in 2012 and 2013 and has been named to the All-Region team twice in her career. She helped lead the Raiders to a Class A State Championship in 2013 and is set to letter in softball for a fourth season in 2014.
“She hits the ball really well and gives us strength at catcher. She has a strong bat and doesn’t look like your typical catcher when it comes to size. She has a really good arm and knows how to talk to her pitcher. Coaches are always looking for great communicators at catcher.”