Nov. 21, 2011
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IOWA CITY, Iowa — University of Iowa head softball coach Marla Looper has signed six preps to National Letters of Intent and one to a financial aid agreement to join the Hawkeyes.
Erin Erickson (OF/1B, Oakland, Calif.), Sammi Gyerman (OF, San Pedro, Calif.), Aspen Rhodes (IF, Van Meter, Iowa), Krystal Shirrell (3B, Brownsburg, Ind.), Shayla Starkenburg (P, Ankeny, Iowa) and Whitney Repole (OF, San Antonio, Texas) will join the program next season, while Holly Hoffman (C/IF, Osceola, Ind.) will join the team in January.
“We’re really excited about this group,” said Looper, who is entering her second season as the head coach. “They are a gritty and passionate group of players that love the game. It’s fun to have that coming into our program. They’re very good students as well as ball players, and that’s a good combination when you’re coming to the University of Iowa.”
Erin Erickson — 5-8, OF/1B, Oakland, Calif.
Erickson is a two-time first team all-conference selection at Bishop O’Dowd High School. She batted .468 with 16 runs and 34 RBI as a junior, .337 with 34 runs and 15 RBI as a sophomore and .464 as a freshman. She led Bishop to the North Coast Section Division III title as a freshman and sophomore for the first time in school history.
Erickson, who has been on the honor roll all three years, played for the Nor Call Cobras 12U team, the Nor Cal Shockers 14U squad and the 18 Gold Nor Cal Shockers. Following her junior season, she was invited to attend the Derek Allister National Elite Camp in Southern California.
Erickson also played golf her first two years in high school, earning the team’s most valuable player honor both seasons.
Coach Looper on Erin
“Erin is a kid that got on our radar early because she has some ties to Iowa — her father played football here — so she’s grown up a Hawkeye. We were fortunate that she was as interested in us as we were in her once we started watching her play. She is a left handed thrower and a right handed hitter that will bring us some depth in the outfield. She’s long and lanky and can run like a deer. Offensively, she’ll help us by hitting gaps and by playing at a really high level.”
Sammi Gyerman — 5-5, OF, San Pedro, Calif.
Gyerman is a three-time all-league and a 2010 all-area honoree. She batted .465 with 29 runs, 17 RBI and was 23-of-24 on the base paths as a sophomore. The 23 steals are a single season conference record. As a junior, Gyerman hit .431 with 35 runs, 16 RBI and 16 steals. She helped guide Palos Verdes High School to the Bay League title in 2008-09 and 2009-10.
Gyerman played ASA ball for the OC Batbusters, leading the squad to the 14U co-Sparkler title. She also helped the California Cruisers 18 Gold team to a top eight finish at the 2011 Louisville Slugger Tournament.
Coach Looper on Sammi
“Sammi is one of our late gets. She is an outfielder that brings speed and hits from the left side of the plate. She can hit for power, poke them in the hole, drop a bunt and slap — she’s a triple threat. She brings a good arm and very good range in the outfield.”
Holly Hoffman — 5-7, C/IF, Osceola, Ind.
Hoffman was a three-time Indiana all-state, all-conference and all-district selection at Penn High School. The catcher had a .470 batting average, 38 RBI, six home runs and 13 doubles as a junior. She hit .475 with 31 RBI and 12 doubles as a sophomore and .414 with 30 RBI and 25 runs as a freshman. Hoffman holds the PHS records for home runs, doubles and RBI.
Hoffman led her team to the conference title all three years. The squad claimed the sectional and regional championship during her junior season before falling in semi-state. Hoffman played ASA softball for the Indiana Magic Gold 16U-18U teams.
Coach Looper on Holly
“Holly is a strong catcher that brings offensive power and does a nice job behind the plate. She is very quiet as a catcher in her stance and has a very good arm. We’re excited to bring her in this winter and get her in our system.”
Whitney Repole — 5-6, OF, San Antonio, Texas
Repole is a two-time all-district selection, earning second team as a sophomore and first team as a junior. She was also a first team All-Comal County and a San Antonio Express News All-Area selection in 2011. The outfielder batted .487 with six home runs, 25 RBI and 11 stolen bases as a sophomore and .530 with eight home runs, 35 RBI and 13 steals as a junior. She also hit .425 with three long balls, 30 RBI and 14 steals as a freshman.
Repole, who is a three-time academic all-district honoree, helped Smithson Valley High School to the 5A state and district title in 2009, and to district and bi-district championships in 2010 and 2011. The 2011 squad went undefeated. Repole also played ASA softball for the Texas Bombers Gold squad, finishing 17th at the Premier in 2011, 17th at ASA Gold Nationals in 2010 and second at the 2010 Louisville Slugger Independence Day Tournament.
Repole’s twin sister, Katie, will be playing softball at the University of Illinois.
Coach Looper on Whitney
“Whitney is a gritty player from Texas who I have been able to watch play for a long time. She is primarily an outfielder who has caught some in her career. She has a strong arm in the outfield and brings power from the right side.”
Aspen Rhodes — 5-10, IF, Van Meter, Iowa
Rhodes is a three-time all-state selection, earning first team as a sophomore, third team as a junior and honorable mention as a freshman. She is also a three-time all-conference and all-district honoree and a two-time all-county selection. The infielder batted .473 with 42 RBI, 40 runs, 10 triples, eight doubles and 19 steals as a junior, .434 with 43 runs and 32 RBI as a sophomore and .402 with 23 runs and 24 RBI as a freshman. She has 49 career steals.
Rhodes also excels in volleyball, basketball and track and field at Van Meter High School. She is a four-year letterwinner and two-time all-conference honoree in volleyball. Rhodes is two-time all-conference selection in basketball, and a three-time letterwinner in track. She placed third at state in the long jump in 2009, second in the 100-meter dash and fourth in the 200-meter dash in 2010. She holds the VMHS records in the 100 and 200-meter dash and long jump.
Coach Looper on Aspen
“Aspen is one of our in-state kids that has some room to develop, but she is a phenom-athlete. She can run like the wind. Right now she is an infielder, but that might coup her up, so we will possibly transition her into the outfield to utilize her speed and arm strength. She’s got a lot of room to grow, but I think that growth is going to come quickly, and she will develop into a strong player in our program.”
Krystal Shirrell — 5-7, 3B, Brownsburg, Ind.
Shirrell is a three-time most valuable player at Brownsburg High School. She was the offensive MVP as a freshman, the defensive MVP and an all-conference honoree as a sophomore, and the MVP and team captain as a junior. She’s led BHS in RBI and slugging percentage in each of her three seasons. She paced the squad in batting average twice and in doubles in 2011.
Shirrell helped guide her Indiana Shockwaves 93 ASA team to a fourth place finish at the USA/ASA 16U Nationals, two ASA regional titles, seven state championships and three NSA World Series Championship titles. She is a charter inductee into the Indiana NSA Hall of Fame, and played in the 2010 International Softball Cup in Netherlands.
Academically, Shirrell is an AP Scholar and a member of the National and Latin Honor Societies. She was named the Outstanding English and Latin Student and earned the Indiana All-Region Honor in band.
Coach Looper on Krystal
“Krystal is from Indiana, and we first saw her playing third base and hitting the cover off the ball. She’s going to bring power, a good presence and poise to our team. She gives us some depth in the infield that we continue to need.”
Shayla Starkenburg — 5-11, P, Ankeny, Iowa
Starkenburg is a three-time first team all-conference and all-district selection and a two-time honorable mention all-state honoree. As a junior, she was a second team all-state selection, a first team ISC honoree and was named to the state all-tournament team. The pitcher posted a 22-5 record with 145 strikeouts and a 1.50 ERA as a junior, leading Ankeny High School to a 2011 conference title and a state runner-up finish. She won 10 games as a freshman and 12 as a sophomore.
Starkenburg, who played for the Sports University USSASA state championships as well as Team Iowa and Iowa Blitz ASA teams, is also a basketball letterwinner, earning second team all-conference honors in 2010 and an honorable mention nod in 2009.
Coach Looper on Shayla
“Shayla gained outstanding experience in leading her team to the state championship game last season. We’ll bring her in and try to get her developed quickly. I think the sky is the limit for her. She already has some really good tools, and her pitching ability and command on the mound continues to improve. I am anxious to see what she can bring our program.”