LEXINGTON, Ky. – The Kentucky softball team’s momentum from on-the-field success has carried over onto the recruiting trail as head coach Rachel Lawson has announced the signing of four star players in Brooklin Hinz (Olathe, Kan.), Erin Rethlake (Huntington, Ind.), Haley Andrus (Chattanooga, Tenn.) and Rachael Metzger (Bakersfield, Calif.) to National Letters of Intent to play softball at Kentucky.
The four heralded players, who will enroll at UK prior to the start of the 2014-15 academic year, are currently in their senior years of high school across the country. Hinz and Rethlake hail from the nation’s heartland as Hinz is a senior at St. Thomas Aquinas High School in Olathe, Kan., and Rethlake in her final year at Huntington North High School in Huntington, Ind. Andrus is the latest UK product from Southern Tennessee currently playing for Baylor High School in Chattanooga, Tenn., while Metzger joins a list of UK products from the West Coast playing for Garces Memorial High School in Bakersfield, Cailf.
“Our diverse 2014 signees will provide the depth that we need to continue our climb up the national ladder,” Lawson said. “In addition, each signee has a lot of experience playing in championship games in both high school and during the demanding travel ball schedules. It is this championship mindset that our program is built upon.”
More on all four signees can be found below:
Olathe, Kan. Pitcher/Outfield St. Thomas Aquinas High School
About Brooklin Hinz: Hinz enters her final year of high school as a three-year letterwinner for St. Thomas Aquinas High School under head coach Chris Orel. The pitcher/outfielder holds several single-season school records, including hits (47), triples (11), home runs (7) and shutouts (11). Last season, Hinz hit .568 at the plate for the Saints, including 12 doubles, three triples and seven homers, while she was 17-1 in the circle with 156 strikeouts in 109 innings pitched. The slugger had a great sophomore season as well, hitting .587 with 11 doubles and 11 triples, going 22-2 in the circle. Hinz had 13 doubles and hit .422 her freshman season. For her efforts, Hinz is a three-year all-state, all-metro and All-Eastern Kansas League honoree, while also being named her team’s Most Valuable Player each of the last three seasons. Hinz was also a Hyvee Player of the Week in 2012 and has helped lead her team to the Kansas 5A State Championship game. Outside of softball, Hinz have been very active in her community with over 100 hours of community service and is a three-year member of the school’s academic honor roll. Hinz is the daughter of Bruce and Renee Hinz and has one brother, Bayler. Bruce played collegiate baseball at Oklahoma.
Lawson on Brooklin Hinz: “Brooklin is a versatile athlete who I believe is a pure hitter. She has a great mind for the game, she is incredibly strong and is that perfect mix between raw aggression and self-control. Brooklin also possesses an attitude that is contagious. I expect she will make a huge impact in our lineup upon arriving in Lexington.”
Brooklin Hinz on Kentucky: “Once I stepped on campus I knew this was the school for me. The coaching staff and team felt like family. Seeing the hard work and determination the players had, I knew I wanted to be a part of that. Playing for the University of Kentucky will fulfill one of my dreams in playing for the best softball program in the country.”
Huntington, Ind. Pitcher/Infield/Outfield Huntington North High School
About Erin Rethlake: Rethlake is a talented athlete both in the circle and at the plate for Huntington North High School in Huntington, Ind. As a junior, Rethlake had a breakout season for the Vikings, posting a 23-1 record in the circle with a 0.18 ERA and 317 strikeouts in 154 innings pitched. She also succeeded at the plate her junior year, hitting .486 with 14 homers and 36 RBI. Her strong junior year lead her to be named the Gatorade Indiana Softball Player of the Year. Rethlake was also a first-team all-conference and first-team all-state honoree last season. During her three years in high school, Rethlake has helped lead the Vikings to the sectional and regional championships all three seasons, including a state-runner up award her sophomore season. Primarily a pitcher, Rethlake also plays first base and can play the outfield. Outside of softball, Rethlake has been active in high school as a member of the National Honors Society, Student-Athlete Board, Huntington Class Council and Future Educators of America. She is a member of the school’s honor roll and volunteers at youth softball leagues. Rethlake is the daughter of Troy and Mindy Rethlake and has two sisters, Ashley and Emily.
Lawson on Erin Rethlake: “Erin will enter UK as one of our most decorated signees. Erin is not only an elite pitcher but she is also a true utility player and can move to either the infield or the outfield at a moment’s notice. Erin’s adaptability also carries over to the offensive side of the ball. She possesses both speed and power and does a great job dialing in when the game is on the line.”
Erin Rethlake on Kentucky: “The beautiful campus was only the beginning of how I knew this particular university would be my next home. The atmosphere of the campus, the closeness of the coaching staff and especially the atmosphere of Kentucky Athletics was a huge aspect for me personally … The coaching staff was not only coaches I would love to play for, but even more than that they were people I wanted to play for. The girls on the team were very inviting and made it seem like more of a family than just a bunch of athletes thrown together. There was just no university that compared to the University of Kentucky for me.”
Chattanooga, Tenn. Catcher/Infield Baylor High School
About Haley Andrus: Andrus brings championship experience to Lexington as a three-time state champion at Baylor High School in Chattanooga, Tenn. The catcher/infielder is a five-year letterwinner at the school totaling a .460 career batting average with 20 home runs, 41 doubles and 110 RBI. Andrus had a great junior season with a .528 batting average and a .933 slugging percentage, while she hit .404 her sophomore season and .449 her freshman season. The slugger is a two-time Chattanooga Times Free Press Best of Prep selection, while earning all-state honors each of the last three seasons and all-district and all-region honors two years. Andrus also played travel ball the past three years with the Fury 95, earning two top-10 finishes at ASA nationals. Andrus is a member of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes. She is the daughter of Tad and Tammy Andrus and has one sister, Brooke. Tammy was a varsity cheerleader at Tennessee-Chattanooga.
Lawson on Haley Andrus: “Haley does a great job using the entire field when she is in the batter’s box. Because she is able to work the field, she is very good at driving in runs when runners are in scoring position. Haley is a strong defensive corner and works tirelessly. She will enter UK as one of the strongest freshman to ever put on a UK uniform.”
Haley Andrus on Kentucky: “I choose to go to Kentucky because I felt like it was the best place for me to be challenged academically and athletically. I wanted to compete at the highest level and Kentucky gave me that opportunity. The main thing that influenced my decision was how friendly the team was to me when I came to a practice. They came up to me as soon as I stepped foot on the field and shook my hand and introduced themselves to me, which did not happen at the other schools that I visited. I want to be a part of a team that works well together on and off the field that pushes each other to be the best that they can be and that truly cares for another.”
Bakersfield, Calif. Catcher/Infield Garces Memorial High School
About Rachael Metzger: Metzger, Kentucky’s lone West Coast product in this class, will bring countless credentials to the Commonwealth as a star infielder/catcher for Garces Memorial High School in Bakersfield, Calif. Metzger has hit over .500 at the plate all three years of high school, including a .512 batting average last season with 12 home runs, 45 RBI and a .615 on-base percentage. The slugger hit .552 her sophomore season with seven homers and 43 RBI, while totaling a .565 batting average her freshman year with 27 RBI. Metzger’s offensive production helped lead her team to a runner-up showing at the 2013 California Central Section Division II CIF Championship, while the team has won the California Central Section Division II SEYL League Championship each of the last three seasons. Individually, Metzger is a three-year first-team all-league honoree on top of being named all-area first team in 2012 and 2013 and all-area second team in 2011. Metzger, who was the league’s offensive player of the year in 2012, was the league’s co-most valuable player last season and was the team MVP last season. She is a three-year member to the school’s academic honor roll and was named the Bakersfield Jockey Club Outstanding Scholar Athlete in 2012. Metzger volunteers at youth softball leagues and has worked with special needs children and the homeless. She is the daughter of Randy and Leah Metzger and has one sister, Audrey.
Lawson on Rachael Metzger: “Rachael is the type of brilliant student that any team would feel comfortable controlling the game behind the plate. Rachael is smart, strong has a great bat and has a tireless work ethic. In addition, she is versatile and will add depth to the corner positions when she is not behind the plate. I am confident that she will add to the line of all-conference catchers that wear Kentucky blue.”
Rachael Metzger on Kentucky: “The decision to attend the University of Kentucky is quite simple: Coach (Rachel) Lawson. And after visiting Kentucky’s campus and meeting with Coach (Kristine) Himes and Coach (Molly) Johnson-Belcher, it only solidified my decision. They are all very knowledgeable and I feel very comfortable with each of them. Another factor in my decision was the team. They were very friendly and all of them made the effort to introduce themselves personally, making me feel like a part of their family. Softball isn’t the only reason why I choose Kentucky, the campus is absolutely beautiful. UK will provide me with a first class education.”