CHARLESTON, S.C. - The Charleston Southern softball team and head coach Shane Winkler announced the signing of Taylor Powell, Brooke Lein, Cierra Robinson and Hayley Elkins during the early signing period as the quartet will be coming to CSU for the 2014-2015 season.
"I'm extremely excited to welcome Tay, Cierra, Brook and Hayley into the Buccaneer Family," Winkler had to say about the 2014 class. "This class is filling some big needs for us next year after we graduate a large senior class. These four are adding power, speed and pitching and we expect immediate contributions from this group."
Powell comes to Charleston Southern by way of Summerville High School and Summerville, S.C., where she lines up in the outfield, playing primarily as the centerfielder for the Green Wave. Powell also lines up at centerfield for the Carolina Fire 18U team. The lefty batter led her team with 48 hits and a .407 batting average in her junior season, leading the Green Wave to the Lower State Championship on their way to the State Championship season. Due to her performance on the season, Powell earned All-Region honors. She also hit .476 with an on-base percentage of .516 with 25 stolen bases during the summer season with the Carolina Fire.
"Charleston Southern is a place where I can grow in the classroom, in my faith, and on the field," Powell had to say about joining the Bucs softball program. "The girls and the coaching staff are amazing, as is the direction the Bucs program is headed. I can't think of anywhere else I'd rather be."
Winkler on Powell: "I couldn't be more excited to be adding Tay to our program. I've had the opportunity to work with her through camps and clinics throughout the years and have seen her improve a great deal. Tay is one of the hardest working high school athletes I have seen both on and off the field. Anytime you can add a student-athlete that is #1 in their high school class, you know you're getting a player that pays attention to details and has an amazing work ethic."
Lein comes to Charleston Southern by way of La Sierra High School and Riverside, Calif., where she lines up primarily on the corners of the infield for the Eagles. Lein also took the field at both first and third base for the T2 Courage 18 Gold travel ball team. A natural righty from the plate, Lein is a four year varsity starter with the Eagles, earning Varsity MVP and CIF First Team All-League honors as a sophomore. In her junior season, she repeated First Team All-League honors, and added Defensive Player of the Year recognition to her accolades.
"I knew Charleston Southern was the right fit for me as soon as I saw the campus," Lein commented on becoming a Buccaneer. "It is the perfect place for me to focus on attaining my degree in biochemistry while competing on an excellent Division 1 softball team. The future holds great things for the CSU Buccaneers Softball program and I could not be any more excited and honored to be a part of it."
Winkler on Lein: "We were fortunate to add Brooke to our signing class just weeks before the signing period. She is going to add depth to both of our corner infield positions and could also see time as our designated player. Brooke brings a ton of power to the lineup which is going to be needed next year. Brooke is an amazing student and you can tell that she takes that same work ethic she has in the classroom and delivers it on the field as well. She will grow into a dominating player for us in the blue and gold."
Robinson joins the Buccaneers by way of Spring Valley High School and Columbia, S.C., where she lines up in the outfield for the Vikings. Robinson is also a key member of the Sandhill Storm travel ball team. A switch hitter at the plate, Robinson earned FPOS Top Prospect Player of the Month recognition for March of 2012, and has been a member of the two-time 4A SC High School Region Championship squad at Spring Valley. A five-year varsity letter winner on the diamond, Robinson has also earned All-Tournament team honors five times with the Storm, as well as MVP honors in six different travel ball tournaments in her career.
Off the field, Robinson was a finalist for the 2013 Wendy's Heisman Scholarship, and is a four-time All-Athletic/All-Academic Award selection and was selected to the S.A.L.T. Athletic Leadership team in 2012-13.
"After visiting the campus, researching all the school had to offer me, and praying about it; I felt that CSU would be the closest feeling of home to me and a place where I could thrive academically, athletically, and spiritually," Robinson reflected on signing with Charleston Southern. "The next step of my life includes an education that will allow me to work with athletes, an athletic program and coach that has no ceiling to how high I can excel, and an environment where I can feel safe and secure in being a Christian."
Winkler on Robinson: "Cierra will be able to step in and contribute from immediately because of her speed. She's improving from the left side of the plate and will also be able to step in and add depth to our outfield next year. Cierra is another athlete that has had great success in the classroom and is a great addition to our program."
Elkins joins Charleston Southern by way of Dutch Fork High School and Irmo, S.C., where she lines up at pitcher and utility player for the Silver Foxes. She also is a standout player on the SC Jets travel ball team. Among her career accolades include earning All-Region honors five times, including being a two-time selection for Region Player of the Year. She has also been a three-time selection for the S.C. All-State Team. Entering her final season, she possesses the Dutch Fork career home run and earned run average records.
"The reason I chose CSU was because of the atmosphere and the feeling I got as soon as I stepped on campus," Elkins closed out with. "I also think the coaches at CSU will help me improve my softball ability and help me become a better player."
Winkler on Elkins: "Hayley's game is all about power. She's a power pitcher who is already in the mid 60's and is only going to get better. The exciting thing about Hayley is that in addition to her being able to come in and contribute in the circle, she's also one of the top power hitters in South Carolina. Hayley has the ability and power to one day be one of the better two way players in the Big South in the circle and at the plate."
Charleston Southern opens up the 2014 season at home as the Buccaneers host their first tournament of the spring season, welcoming Maryland-Eastern Shore, UNC Wilmington and Elon to the three-day event to be hosted at Buccaneer Field from February 7-9.