LEXINGTON, Ky. -- The Kentucky softball team has inked a pair of talented newcomers for the 2012 season in Kara Howard (Riverside, Calif.) and Griffin Joiner (Hopkinsville, Ky.) head coach Rachel Lawson announced Monday.
"Even though our 2011 class is small in numbers, I expect that they will be poised to make an immediate impact as they look to succeed a graduating class that saw each member of the class start all four years while donning a Kentucky uniform," Lawson said.
Howard is a highly regarded centerfielder for Riverside Poly High. A four-year varsity player, Howard was a 2010 first team All-Big Eight League. An excellent student, Howard captured the scholar athlete award in all three years as a varsity player.
An anchor to the outfield for the Corona Angels, Howard batted .403 with 24 stolen bases and three homeruns during the 2010 season. The Angels placed second overall in the ESPN Premier Girls Fastpitch 16u Nationals while also garnering a top-10 finish at the American Softball Association 16u Nationals.
"Kara is an incredibly dynamic player," Lawson said. "She has a strong arm and an innate ability to track down any ball in the outfield. On the offensive side, she has the ability to create runs in many different ways. When there are runners in scoring position, there is no one that I would rather have at the plate for a positive play."
Joiner is a Kentucky native who plays for Christian County High School. A catcher, as a junior she batted .556 which is the highest single-season average in school history. She was a first team All-State selection during her junior campaign while also earning All-Tournament team honors at the state competition. In both her freshman and sophomore seasons, Joiner was a second team All-State selection.
Also a stellar student, Joiner was a first team Academic All-State honoree. She is a member of the Honor Society and the Beta Club at Christian County.
"Griffin is one of the most coachable athletes I have ever had the pleasure of evaluating," Lawson said. "Her relentless desire to succeed is matched by her keen sense of observation and her kinesthetic awareness. Because of these intangibles, the bar has been set very high for Griffin, and I am looking forward to watching her grow during her tenure in the SEC."
Stay tuned to UKathletics.com for the most up-to-date information about the UK softball team.