Softball Inks Four Talented Recruits

Nov. 12, 2009

IOWA CITY – Head Softball Coach Gayle Blevins has announced that Nikki Gentile, Katie Kroeger, Brianna Luna and Kayla Massey have signed a National Letter of Intent to attend the University of Iowa next fall.

“The four young women we are signing bring the intangibles that we look for every year,” Blevins said. “Each comes from a solid family where core values of respect, responsibility, trustworthiness, commitment, heart and family really mean something. Additionally, they have been part of outstanding athletic programs that also embrace these qualities. I love what they have already demonstrated. They will be fun to work with and coach. We feel privileged to bring these young women to Iowa, and we will do our best for and by them.”

Gentile is an outfielder from Martinez, CA, and attends Alhambra High School. She is a three-time all-DSAL League selection, including first team honors as a sophomore and junior. She was also named first team all-East Bay as a junior, and was chosen as the California State Star of the Week in May of 2009. In May of 2008, Gentile was also named the Cal-Hi Sports Player of the Week. As a junior, Gentile recorded an impressive .520 batting average and a .960 slugging percentage. She has scored a combined 44 runs between her sophomore and junior seasons, and also has 29 stolen bases, including a perfect 18-for-18 as a junior. Gentile also has 42 career RBI through her junior season.

Gentile brings an impressive ASA resume with her to Iowa City. In 2007-08, she played on the Sorcerers 16U team that qualified for the ASA National Tournament. In 2009, she led the Nor Cal Shockers in the 18Gold division to a berth in the national tournament held in Oklahoma City. Gentile also lettered in volleyball and is an honor role student. Her grandfather, Jim Gentile, played Major League Baseball for eight seasons, and was a three-time all-star with the Baltimore Orioles from 1960-62.

“Nikki Is exactly the type of player we love adding to our team,” Blevins said. “She plays with great heart and enthusiasm. It is obvious that she loves playing softball and has done a solid job of developing under her Nor Cal Shockers coach Paul Buccellato. Nikki possesses good speed and this, coupled with her solid glove and arm, makes her an excellent addition to our outfield core. Nikki is a strong hitter and will compete to be in our lineup as a freshman. She is excited for what lies ahead of her and knows that this is an incredible opportunity. There is no doubt in my mind she will take full advantage of this and be a solid Hawkeye for us. She, too, is an excellent student, presently sitting at a 3.5 GPA. We are pleased to welcome Nikki to our Hawkeye family.”

Kroeger hails from Byrnes Mill, MO, and attends Northwest High School in Cedar Hill, MO. Kroeger, who will play outfield at Iowa, is a two-time all-state selection, including first team honors as a junior. She was also a first team all-conference, all-district and all-region pick in each year of high school softball. She earned honorable mention all-metro honors in four-straight seasons, as well. Kroeger batted above .430 in every high school season, including a career-best .505 as a senior. She also recorded an on-base percentage above .520 during each high school season, and stole 89 career bases. She holds the Missouri High School record for career singles (171), and led her team to district championship in 2007.

Kroeger is the third player from the St. Louis Chaos ASA-affiliated team to commit to Iowa, joining current players Chelsey Carmody and Katie Keim. In 2008, she led the Chaos to a runner-up finish in the ASA national tournament.

Kroeger is also an outstanding student, and has been admitted to the University of Iowa Honors Program, and received the National Scholars Award from the UI.

“Katie brings excellent speed to our program,” Blevins said. “A slap-style hitter, she helps fill the void of two exceptional speed seniors graduating this year. Coach Bob Furrer runs an outstanding program with the St. Louis Chaos, and Katie represents the very best qualities we have seen in the students that are part of the Chaos program. Katie is an excellent outfielder. Her offensive skills fit well with our style of play. She is aggressive and will rise to the challenges that she will face at the major college level. We could not be happier adding Katie to our 2010 squad. Additionally, Katie is an outstanding student. She is currently carrying a 4.0 GPA and has already received a National Scholars Award from Iowa. We look forward to working with Katie and watching her continue to develop as a student-athlete.”

Luna is an infielder from Indio, CA, and attends La Quinta High School. She is a three-time Desert Valley League first team selection and California Interscholastic Federation second team pick. She was named MVP of the Thousand Oaks Tournament as a sophomore, and was named team co-captain as a junior. Luna batted .493 as a freshman and junior, and collected five home runs, 15 doubles and 41 RBI with a 1.000 slugging percentage last year.

Additionally, Luna played ASA-affiliated softball for the Orange County Batbusters 16U and the Jets 18U teams.

“Brianna is a solid addition to our infield core,” Blevins said. “As a third baseman, Brianna possesses good foot speed, a solid glove and a fearless presence. Additionally, she did a super job hitting for the OC Batbusters this past summer. Brianna helps us replace some of the big bats that we lose to graduation this year. I like her presence on the field. She plays with great energy and she wills her team to win. Brianna has the kind of energy we like to see in our defense. She will continue to get better both defensively and offensively, and this will allow her to make her mark on our program. Brianna is thrilled to be playing for Iowa. She will be a good contributor to our program. Brianna gets it done in the classroom as well, posting a 3.4 GPA. Hawkeye fans will enjoy watching her compete.”

Massey is a pitcher from Foothill Ranch, CA, and attends Trabuco Hills High School. She is a three-time all-Sea View League honoree, and was named Rookie of the Year as a freshman and co-MVP of the league as a junior. Massey is also a two-time second team all-Orange County pick, and has been named her high school’s Distinguished Girls’ Athlete twice. Massey was named a team captain as a junior, and has led her high school team to three-straight second place finishes in the Sea View League.

Massey played for the So Cal Crunch ASA team in 2006, leading them to an ASA nationals appearance. In 2008, she helped the So Cal Athletics 16U team to a 33rd place finish out of 160 teams at the ASA national tournament. In 2009, the So Cal Athletics 18Gold team finished fourth out of 64 teams at the national tournament in Oklahoma City. Massey’s ASA coach with the So Cal Athletics was Rob Weil, father of former Hawkeye all-American Brittany Weil.

Massey earned Scholar Athlete awards in 2007-09, and is an honor roll student.

“We are thrilled to be signing Kayla Massey,” Blevins said. “She will make a big impact on our program over the next four years. Kayla is part of an outstanding softball program, the So Cal A’s under the leadership of Bruce Richardson and Rob Weil, and will bring top level game experience to our program. She has pitched in national championships and is very comfortable in this role. She is a great competitor. We have followed her development for some time, and it has been impressive to watch. Not only is Kayla a great pitcher, she is an excellent hitter, as well. Kayla will become an excellent Division I pitcher and will be a force in the Big Ten Conference. Additionally, she is an excellent student. She has a 3.5 GPA. Kayla will be a great student-athlete for the Hawkeyes. Kayla was our first verbal commitment in our 2010 recruiting class, and she was instrumental in helping us attract other quality teammates. Our fans will be excited to see what she will bring to our program.”