Hawkeyes Sign Three Prep Standouts

Nov. 12, 2003

IOWA CITY – The University of Iowa softball team announced the signing of three recruits Wednesday. Stephanie Acherson, Kim Howell and Emily Nichols will all join the Hawkeyes in the fall of 2004.

Ackerson, a Des Moines native, is a two-time Class 3A first team all-state selection and member of the Iowa Elite all-state team. She was named the Iowa Pitcher of the Year and the Class 3A Pitcher of the Year as a junior, when she posted a 27-2 record. Her career record is 49-6. Ackerson also plays first base and hit a robust .382 as a junior. She led her Des Moines Dowling High School team to the state tournament as a sophomore, where she was named to the all-tournament team.

“Stephanie is a great addition to our team, she provides us with strong leadership and competitiveness that are two qualities of being a Hawkeye,” Iowa Head Coach Gayle Blevins said. “Her 6-foot frame is intimidating – not only on the field but also at the plate. We have watched Steph for the past three summers and we have seen her grow dramatically in that time period. She is a great athlete and could easily have played collegiate volleyball, so we are thrilled that she has chosen to play softball. Steph is a big-time competitor. Her drive, desire and determination will only enhance her play and she possesses all of the tools to be a great player in the Big Ten Conference. She will be fun to watch compete in the Hawkeye program. We are thrilled that she will be wearing the Black and Gold next year.”

Howell, a pitcher from Des Moines East High School, is a two-time all-state honoree, being named to the third team as a sophomore and the second team as a junior. She has a career ERA of 0.95 and a record of 42-24. She has held opposing batters to a .143 average. As a sophomore, Howell led East to the state tournament, where she was named to the Class 3A all-tournament team.

“Kim has an intimidating presence on the mound, where her 6-foot frame will be a great advantage for Iowa,” Blevins said. “Kim has grown dramatically in two years time, and her sophomore and junior seasons demonstrated her potential. Kim has made great strides in developing her pitches, yet we feel there is even greater growth ahead. Additionally, she is an excellent hitting prospect for us, possessing good power. She demonstrates a strong work ethic and has taken advantage of numerous opportunities to develop. We are thrilled to have her join us next year and we look forward to following her progress this summer.”

Nichols is a catcher and first baseman out of Westview High School in Portland, OR. Last season as a junior, Nichols was named first team all-metro and was an all-state honoree. She is also a two-time all-conference selection. During the summer, Nichols played ASA softball for the Oregon Sun Supply team. In 2002 she led the team to the 16-Under “A” ASA National Championship.

“It is a huge boost to our program to bring in someone with the kind of experiences that Emily possesses,” Blevins said. “She is a great competitor with excellent background as a young player. Emily has played in numerous national championships and she understands what it takes to compete at that level. She is a versatile player who can catch and also play first or third, which is extremely beneficial to us. She is a solid hitter with good power who will work her way into our lineup. Emily is an excellent match to Iowa. She has a great work ethic and is determined to succeed. We like the qualities we see in Emily and she will be fun to watch play over the next four years.”

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