Nov. 9, 2017

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. – Head coach Joanna Hardin announced the signing of eight Cavaliers that will join the 2019 Virginia softball program. Amongst the eight new signees, four are from the state of Virginia.

“As represented in this class, we have been committed to recruiting our home state and are thrilled to that half of the class is comprised of commonwealth student-athletes,” said Hardin. “We’re also lucky that our academic reputation allows us to recruit some of the best student-athletes nationwide.”

In addition, Hardin and her staff landed recruits from California, Texas, Mississippi and North Carolina.

“I believe that each individual athlete in this class fits our core values and mission statement,” added Hardin. “Our future is incredibly bright and our staff is blessed with the opportunity to support these young women as they continue their academic and athletic careers.”

In Hardin’s first season at the helm, Virginia qualified for its first ACC Tournament since 2013 and its nine conference wins were tied for the second most in program history. Her squad ranked in the top-3 in the ACC in doubles (2nd), triples (2nd), slugging percentage (3rd) and total bases (3rd).

Abigail Barber
Position: IF
Hometown: Providence Forge, Va.
High School: Maggie L. Walker Governor’s School for Government & International Studies
Club Team: Williamsburg Starz Gold 18U
B/T: L/R
Ht: 5-3

Notes: Helped MLWGS to its first Colonial District, Conference and Regional Championships in 2016… Named the 2A Region East Player of the Year and was a Second Team All-State selection as a junior… A three-time All-Conference honoree… Currently ranks 11th in the VHSL for career home runs with 20… Tied the VHSL single game record with six RBIs on May 18, 2017 against Goochland… Holds career school records in hits (87), home runs (20), doubles (38) and batting average (.599).

Coach’s Quote: Abby has exhibited academic success in the Governor’s school AND on the field in one of the top travel softball organizations in Virginia! Being a utility defensive player we expect Abby to work in both the infield and outfield and add to our lineup as a natural left handed hitter.

Donna Friedman
Position: C/3B/1B
Hometown: Orange, Calif.
High School: Mater Dei
Club Team: Firecrackers Brashear
B/T: R/R
Ht: 5-6

Notes: Three-year letterwinner at Mater Dei playing for Jessica Foley… As a junior MDHS won the CIF Southern Division Section Div. 1 Championship

Coach’s Quote: Her attitude/effort, academic goals, and softball skill set is a great fit for our program. Donna competes behind the plate full-time in two extremely competitive arenas, Mater Dei and the top CA Firecrackers-Brashear organization. Her experience managing games, pitching staffs and long seasons along with flashes of power in the box undoubtedly strengthens our bullpen.

Tori Gilbert
Position: OF
Hometown: Mechanicsville, Va.
High School: Powhatan
Club Team: Virginia Glory Premier
B/T: R/R
Ht: 5-7

Notes: A two-time All-State selection at Powhatan… Listed on First Team All-Region and First Team All-Conference teams as a sophomore and junior… Will serve as the team captain her senior year… Awarded the school’s scholar athlete award as a member of the track team in 2016

Coach’s Quote: Tori can flat out hit! She is strong, athletic, and we believe she will develop into an offensive threat in the ACC. Academic rigor was a key factor in Tori’s decision to come to UVA and we believe she is prepared to continue the growth and development of our program!

Emma McBride
Position: SS
Hometown: Magnolia, Texas
High School: Magnolia West
Club Team: Scrap Yard International
B/T: R/R
Ht: 5-5

Notes: A two-time (2016 & 2017) All-District infield selection… Earned second team All-District at shortstop as a freshman… A Jo-Cup pick for USA Junior Olympic Softball tryouts in 2016… Recipient of the All-American Athletic and Fighting Heart Award each year of high school.

Coach’s Quote: From day one in the recruiting process, we knew Emma was a great fit for our program. She plays the game hard, with tenacity and enthusiasm. As we discussed her collegiate goals it was evident that she carries the same passion for softball into the classroom. In conjunction with her passion for the game, Emma brings depth to the middle infield, savvy in the box, and speed on the basepaths.

Aly Rayle
Position: P/OF
Hometown: Herndon, Va.
High School: South Lakes
Club Team: Ashburn Shooting Stars Gold
B/T: R/R
Ht: 5-10

Notes: Voted the 2016-17 Liberty Conference 6 Player & Pitcher of the Year… A Second Team All-State, Second Team All-Washington Post and First Team All-Region selection as a junior… In 21 games and 137 innings pitched she boasted a 0.86 ERA with 241 strikeouts in the spring of 2017… Also runs indoor/outdoor track in which she has is a regional champion in the 500m Dash.

Coach’s Quote: Our staff is really excited to watch Aly grow and develop in the circle during her time at UVA. Aly’s commitment to her education and development as an athlete (she runs cross country and track in high school) is exactly what our staff was seeking to add to the team culture and the bullpen. She is relentless in her desire to grow and compete!

Arizona Ritchie
Position: SS
Hometown: Stafford, Va.
High School: Brooke Point
Club Team: Virginia Glory
B/T: R/R
Ht: 5-1

Notes: A three-year letterwinner for Dan Tarr at Brooke Point…A two-time All-Area Player of the Year… Has garnered First Team All-State honors the last two seasons… Has been a First Team All-Conference selection all three years of high school… Boasted a career batting average of .455… Serves as the team captain… Earned varsity letter in basketball as a freshman.

Coach’s Quote: We believe Arizona’s goals and core values align perfectly with UVA. She brings depth to our middle infield and her softball IQ through the roof. She has been around baseball/softball her entire life and will be a pillar for the future success of our program. Arizona is driven for excellence in the classroom and a high character individual that will help us develop into a championship program.

Bailey Winscott
Position: OF
Hometown: Clinton, Miss.
High School: Jackson Preparatory School
Club Team: Jersey Intensity
B/T: L/R
Ht: 5-2

Notes: A two-time state champion at Jackson Prep… Named the Mississippi Association of Independent Schools (MAIS) Conference MVP in 2016… An All-State honoree as a junior… Named to the MAIS All-Star team and has been a three-time All-Conference selection at Jackson Prep…. Batted .500 with 30 steals as a junior.

Coach’s Quote: Don’t let her size deceive you, she is a fierce competitor. She is tough, selfless, and relentless in how she plays the game. She has moved from the outfield to shortstop for her high school softball team, hit in many positions in the lineup and is a savvy baserunner. Bailey had opportunities to pursue her athletic career other places but she wanted a university that challenged her academically and dedicated to excellence.

Clare Zureich
Position: P/OF
Hometown: Cary, N.C.
High School: Cardinal Gibbons
Club Team: Lady Lightning Gold Demarini Platinum Squad
B/T: L/L
Ht: 5-8

Notes: Ranked No. 70 on FloSoftball’s Hot 100 2018 class list… Has compiled a 16-5 overall record while striking out 267 in 129 innings over her first three seasons of high school softball… As a freshman was named District 3, 3A Pitcher of the Year… A two-time all-state selection… Batted .468 as a junior and led the conference in doubles… Also lettered in field hockey, basketball and swimming at Cardinal Gibbons.

Coach’s Quote: Clare wants to be the best in everything she does – school work, pitching, strength & conditioning – you name it, Clare attacks it head on. As a lefty, she’ll give us some versatility out of the bullpen and will be a game changer for us in the circle. Her character and work ethic directly align with our vision for UVA softball.