Grizzlies have six ink with NCAA DIvision I schools

Grizzlies have six ink with NCAA DIvision I schools

Six former Butler softball players will be moving on to the NCAA Division I level in 2015.

It marks the second consecutive year that the program has sent six players to the D-I level and is one short of the 2011 class, which had seven Division I transfers.

Catcher Kate James (Arkansas), pitcher/third baseman Sydnee Eck (Creighton), first baseman Jillian Navarrete (Iowa), pitcher Abbie Clanton (Nebraska-Omaha), infielder Joselyn Dean (Tennessee State) and infielder Alyson Bressie (Texas A&M-Corpus Christi) highlight the 2014 signee class, who had a total of nine players move on to the four-year level.

The six players helped the Grizzlies (36-10) qualify for their fourth straight trip to the NJCAA Division I National Tournament, along with winning conference and Region VI for a fourth consecutive season and back-to-back District E titles.

James, from Maize, finished her Butler career as a two-time All-KJCCC selection, a 2013 NJCAA All-American and the school leader in home runs with 38. She finished her sophomore season tied for the team lead in home runs (14) and finished second on the team in batting average (.394), runs batted in (53), on-base percentage (.494) and slugging percentage (.795). James was one of 16 NJCAA student-athletes selected to play on the NJCAA national softball team, which competed in the 20th Canadian Open Fastpitch International Competition in July. 

Eck, from Andale, earned 2014 NJCAA Division I All-American first team honors and went 28-7 in 37 appearances with a 1.55 earned run average. In 189 innings pitched, Eck struck out 228 batters. She finished fifth in the nation in wins and strikeouts. As a hitter, she batted .435 with 14 home runs and 58 runs batted in, leading the team in all three categories. Eck also led the Grizzlies in hits (60), runs scored (58), on-base percentage (.503) and slugging percentage (.841). She also had 23 stolen bases and 12 doubles on the season. Eck also was named KJCCC Freshman of the Year for the Western Division and was a first-team All-Conference selection. Eck also was named the NJCAA Division I Pitcher of the Week for the week ending March 2 and won KJCCC Player of the Week honors six times.

Navarrete, a sophomore from Carlsbad, N.M., who hit .333 with nine home runs and 38 RBI, along with 28 runs scored and 11 doubles. She earned All-KJCCC first-team conference honors.

Dean, a sophomore from Olathe, batted .339 with four homers, 27 RBI and finished tied for the team lead in walks (25). Dean also earned first-team All-KJCCC honors.

Bressie, an infielder from Galva, hit .344 with 11 RBI and 15 runs scored in just 31 games. She also was perfect on six stolen base attempts on the season.

Clanton, a right-handed pitcher from Ozark, Mo., pitched in 16 games and started one. In 26.1 innings pitched, she recorded 21 strikeouts.