Irwin announces five signees to 2013-14 class

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Baxter, Carter, Chernak, Johnson, Knoetze expected to bring ‘pop’ 

JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (Nov. 22, 2012) – ETSU softball head coach Brad Irwin announced the signing of five new Buccaneers to the 2013-14 recruiting class on Thanksgiving Thursday, welcoming Brooke Baxter (Jasper, Tenn.), Taylor Carter (Brazil, Ind.), Kelsey Chernak (Ooltewah, Tenn.), Mykeah Johnson (Cohutta, Ga.) and Danielle Knoetze (San Diego, Calif.) to Johnson City.

“We are really excited about this class,” said Irwin, who enters his third season with ETSU. “Overall, I feel this class meets a lot of our needs. We were looking for a boost offensively, and feel we’ve definitely got that in this class. The group as a whole is very athletic and I feel a lot of these girls will come in and compete for immediate playing time.”

Below is a breakdown of each signee, along with Irwin’s thoughts on each recruit.

Brooke Baxter– (OF – Jasper, Tenn. – Marion County HS)

An experienced center fielder, Baxter has played four years of varsity softball under head coach Chris Thomas at Marion County High School in Jasper, Tenn. In that time, Baxter has helped her team to 130-32-1 record in District 6A, including a district championship in 2012. Baxter received all-state honors in 2012 and all-district honors in 2010. In each of the past three seasons, Baxter has batted over .400, combining for 150 runs, 56 RBIs and 48 stolen bases. Baxter also plays club softball with the Chattanooga Force Gold.

“Brooke is a very speedy outfielder who will come in and compete for time out there. She’s a hard-nosed player, she’s gritty, and she’s the type of kid who is going to do whatever it takes to get better and compete. We’re excited about her athleticism, fire and toughness.”

Taylor Carter– (1B/OF – Brazil, Ind. – Northview HS)

Carter signs with Irwin’s squad after spending the last three years playing varsity softball under head coach Bethany Jones at Northview High School in Brazil, Ind. In her three years so far at Northview, Carter has helped her team to a 57-23 record, and been an offensive powerhouse. Her freshman, sophomore and junior years, Carter has led her high school team in batting average and RBIs. Last season, she hit nine homeruns while slugging .928. In the circle, Carter has pitched 135 innings and struck out 162 batters to the tune of a 1.40 ERA. Those numbers helped Carter be named team MVP, Best Offensive Player, Best Defensive Player and Best Pitcher. She was also named a WIC All-Conference First Team member and was an all-district selection.

“We’re very excited to have Taylor join the program. She’s an outstanding hitter and will be a huge asset to our offense. She has a lot of pop in her swing and could really be one of the best hitters in this program’s history by the time she is through. Taylor plays at a high level in travel ball with the Indiana Magic Gold and will be an immediate impact on our program.”

Kelsey Chernak– (C/IF – Ooltewah, Tenn. – Ooltewah HS)

Chernak has spent the last few years playing under head coach Norma Nelson at Ooltewah High School. In her last three seasons, Chernak has combined for 58 runs, 49 RBIs, 17 doubles and 23 stolen bases while hitting over .330 for the Ooltewah Owls. In two seasons of summer ball, Chernak has hit over .350, totaling 47 runs, 45 RBIs and 16 doubles. What Chernak really has been praised for is her versatility. Coach Nelson was quoted in an article by Larry Fleming of the Chattanoogan as saying, “She can play anywhere. She’s a very good defensive player, a smart player and will provide great leadership.” Chernak specializes behind the plate and at shortstop, and also plays club softball for the Chattanooga Force Gold.

“Kelsey is incredibly versatile and athletic. She can catch, she can play middle infield, and she’s a solid hitter. She’ll compete for playing time immediately at several positions. Kelsey is a line drive hitter and we look for her to hit for a high average.”

Mykeah Johnson (IF/OF – Cohutta, GA – Northwest Whitfield HS)

Johnson has lettered four years in softball at Northwest Whitfield High School in Cohutta Ga. Another of Irwin’s multi-skill signees on the defensive side, Johnson played left field for her high school team as an underclassman. Her junior and senior years, Johnson moved to third base, helping her team win the Georgia High School State Championship. Johnson also received a high school letter in basketball. 

“Mykeah is another versatile, athletic player. Mykeah can swing the bat very well and can play multiple positions. Her team just won the Georgia High School State Championship and she comes from a very good travel program, Fury Fastpitch. We are excited about the potential Mykeah brings to our program.”

Danielle Knoetze – (IF – San Diego, Calif. – Rancho Bernado HS)

“Danielle comes from a really good travel program out on the west coast, The Next Level Gold. She’s another one of those kids that we think will come in and provide a boost offensively. She’s an excellent hitter, she can play the corners, she’s versatile, and we look for her to come in and give us some pop in the order.” 

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