EDWARDSVILLE, Ill. – SIUE softball Head Coach Sandy Montgomery announced the signing of four players who will join the Cougars for the 2018 spring season.
SIUE, which heads into the 2017 spring season having advanced to the Ohio Valley Conference Tournament Championship in each of the last three seasons, added Corrina Rivas (Duncan, Oklahoma), Bailley Concatto (Cumming, Georgia), Alana Cobb-Adams (Kapolei, Hawaii) and Jill Niehaus (Mt. Olive, Illinois).
"We are very excited about this class as it has a lot of talent and a lot of confidence," said Montgomery. "There is no question in my mind they are going to come in and push for playing time as freshmen. I am very excited because they are going to be the future of our program."
Rivas, a right-handed pitcher from Duncan High School, was a hurler for the national team and the junior national team in Mexico. She threw four innings of no-hit softball against Japan and has used her international experience to become a more well-rounded pitcher.
She emerged as one of the top pitchers in Oklahoma, earning first team All-State and Pitcher of the Year accolades. Rivas turned down an opportunity to play in the Big 12 Conference to play for Coach Montgomery.
"She throws every pitch pretty well, and she has been working hard on her change up," said Montgomery. "When I saw her this summer, she had gained speed, which is crucial. With having her here day in and day out I expect her to get the opportunity to get better and move forward on a more regular basis."
A three-time All-District pitcher, including twice as a first team selection, Rivas tossed nine career no-hitters, a perfect game and has 605 career strikeouts with an earned run average of 1.19 at Duncan.
Rivas, who said she has been playing the game of softball since age three, has turned in eye-popping club softball numbers with more than 1,000 career strikeouts. She led her team to third place at the 2013 USSSA Nationals, second at the 2015 Triple Crown SW Nationals and fourth at the 2016 SW Triple Crown Nationals.
"I have very high expectations of her coming in here and being able to move right into the rotation," said Montgomery. "She is a kid who doesn't hit so her focus will be solely on pitching, and I have no doubt she will have a huge upside."
Concatto is a left-handed hitting second base-shortstop combination at West Forsyth High School in Georgia. The right-handed thrower is a four-time All-State pick as well as All-County and All-Region. She also picked up Offensive Player of the Year honors.
She set school records for hits, walks and runs scored at West Forsyth.
"She is a contact slapper with the ability to hit way," noted Montgomery. "I am sure we will be making her into more of a hitter with the ability to slap."
As a member of the Atlanta Vipers since 2014, her team has earned a top 40 finish nationally and was named Triple Crown Sports National Champions.
"She plays on a very high-level summer ball team, the Atlanta Vipers, which is the one of the best organization in Atlanta," said Montgomery. "She is going to hit the ground running at SIUE."
Montgomery described Concatto as a gritty, hard-nosed player with a lot of confidence.
"Bailley is one of those kids who is really mature for her age," said Montgomery. "She has had a lot of media attention. She has the swag and the maturity to handle coming into this scenario, a college program with high expectations."
Montgomery said Concatto was brought in as a second baseman but like every other player on the SIUE roster will have to earn her spot in the lineup.
"Her versatility is really important, said Montgomery. "That is huge from my standpoint."
Cobb-Adams is a shortstop and outfielder from Kamehameha Schools Kapalama in Hawaii, where she has helped her team to three ILH championships plus a third-place and a fifth-place finish at the state championships.
"She has tremendous speed and an extremely strong throwing arm," said Montgomery. "She is going to push some people along for playing time, no question."
A left-handed hitter and right-handed thrower, Cobb-Adams was a second team All-State outfielder and an honorable mention All-State shortstop while earning second team All-ALH honors at both positions.
Cobb-Adams plays for Mililani Prep, the ASA A Division western national champion and three-time ASA state champions.
"They play a high level competition," said Montgomery. "I think she will bring a depth that we do not have - someone who can play outfield and infield. She runs well and is quick out of the batter's box."
Niehaus is a three-sport student-athlete at Mt. Olive High School in softball, volleyball and basketball and has been a team captain for each of those teams. She also is No. 1 academically in her class.
"Jill is a true shortstop with a 5-10 frame," said Montgomery. "She has the bones to get bigger, stronger, and faster. I am looking forward to coaching her since she has never had the everyday softball practice scenario."
Montgomery places high value on well-rounded multi-sport athletes. A first team All-State selection as a junior, Niehaus earned honors as a first team All-Area member by the State Journal-Register. She also was tabbed All-State in basketball.
Niehaus plays club softball for Collinsville Extreme Elite. She helped her 18U team to a top 25 finish in Colorado. She also led her 16U team as the TCS Bronze Bracket champions in Texas.
"Now having the opportunity to focus on softball every day, she is really going to excel from a skills standpoint," said Montgomery.
Montgomery said she expects Niehaus to challenge for a starting position in the lineup.
"She is a kid who is a perfectionist, is very hard on herself and wants to get better," Montgomery added. "She comes from a family of very intelligent, hard-working individuals which is a character trait that carries over in to softball."