SFA Softball Signs Five

Nov. 15, 2007

NACOGDOCHES - Stephen F. Austin softball coach Gay McNutt announced Thursday the addition of five prep recruits during the early signing period. Amber Price, Kayla Gutowski, Krista Hallmark, Jessica Arana, and Samantha McKenna all signed national letters of intent to attend school and play softball at Stephen F. Austin.

The quintet is an all-Texas class that includes four infielders and an outfielder.

Price is the lone true outfielder in the bunch. The 5-7 Leander, Texas, product has patrolled center field at Vista Ridge High School since she was a freshman. Last season, she earned recognition on the All-Central Texas first team and picked up TGCA All-State honors. She was named to the Hill Country News Dazzling Dozen squad after earning First-Team All-District 26-4A honors and leading her team to the regional finals.

As a sophomore, Price was a second-team all-district selection in softball and earned all-district honors in cross country, along with a berth in the regional championships. She was also a member of the varsity basketball squad that year. In her freshman campaign, Price earned the starter's role on the diamond and took bronze at the district cross country meet, earning all-district accolades and a trip to the regional meet. She also played junior varsity volleyball and earned a spot on the varsity basketball roster. She plays club softball with the Round Rock Blaze Gold.

Price is a three-time academic all-district selection in both softball and cross country. She has earned the same honor for basketball each of the last two seasons and was an academic all-district choice in volleyball as a junior. Price is a member of the National Honor Society.

"Amber is an exciting player to watch and will be a great addition to our outfield," McNutt said. She's small, but she plays big. Her speed will be a tremendous asset to our program and will be utilized in various ways. Amber will be a leader on and off the field for our team."

Gutowski is one of two players in this signing class from Tomball, Texas. She's a 5-7 catcher who has also lettered in basketball and volleyball in her high school career. On the diamond, Gutowski earned second-team all-district honors in 2007, when she helped lead her team to an area championship in Class 5A. She led the squad in home runs as a junior. In her sophomore year, Gutowski batted .528 with a gaudy .778 slugging percentage. Gutowski's club team is the Sudden Impact Gold squad.

"What a great arm this kid has," McNutt said. "Coming in as a freshman catcher, Kayla's strength is definitely her arm and her ability to work well with great pitchers. Kayla will also help us offensively, as she has the ability to hit the long ball."

Hallmark is the other Tomball native in the fold for the 2007 early signing class. A 5-2 infielder, Hallmark has experience at third base, shortstop and second base. She has been an all-district selection each of the last two seasons and led the district in home runs as a sophomore in 2006. Hallmark was presented with the "All-Around Hustle Award" at a University of Houston softball camp, and she has helped lead her team to a couple of deep playoff trips, including an appearance in the state tournament. She plays club softball with the MC Elite Gold 18-U.

"When I think of Krista, I think of how true it is that dynamite does come in small packages," McNutt said. "Krista is so much fun to watch, because you can tell she is really enjoying the game. Krista will help us in the middle or at third base. She is versatile in the field and also swings the bat well."

Arana is a 5-6 middle infielder with experience in the outfield. She was a two-time all-district performer at The Woodlands High School, where she has been a starter all three years. Arana has also earned all-state honors in her prep career, as well as winning the district's Newcomer of the Year award and her team's Heart Award and Best Defensive Player Award. Arana plays club ball with the Houston Power 18-U Gold team.

Arana was an academic all-state selection as a junior last year and has been named to the academic all-district squad all three years. She is a member of the Anchor Club and Principals Council and is a nominee for membership in the National Honor Society of High School Scholars.

"This may be one of the smoothest shortstops I have seen in a while," McNutt said of Arana. "Her nickname is `Jeter,' if that tells you anything, and you don't have to be a Yankees fans to enjoy watching this kid play. Jessica has a cannon for an arm and gets rid of the ball with quickness and ease. She will step up our infield play big-time."

McKenna is a 5-11 first baseman from Splendora, Texas. She has earned first-team all-district accolades all three years of her career, the first award coming as a utility player and the last two at first base. In 2006, she also won all-county honors at first base.

"Wait 'til you see this kid," McNutt said. "Samantha's very presence on the field is intimidating enough. She's 5-11 and swings the bat well. Sam is another kid who can hit the long ball. She is a great defensive first baseman and plays the game with passion. Don't let her size fool you though. She's a great kid with a soft voice, until she steps on the field."



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