Sixth-year Liberty Softball Head Coach Dot Richardson has announced the addition of 10 student-athletes to the Lady Flames' softball program for the 2019-20 academic year. Kastin Belogorska, Savannah Channell, Peyton Day, Story Giebeig, Blake Gibson, Caroline Hudson, Karlie Keeney, McKenzie Murray, Gaby Ruiz and Glory Thompson have all signed commitments to attend Liberty and play softball at Liberty beginning in the Fall of 2019.
These 10 student-athletes join a team that won a program-record 49 games last season, advancing to the final of the NCAA Columbia Regional and achieving a season-ending RPI of 29.
This upcoming class includes four players from Florida and one each from Alabama, Georgia, Kentucky, Minnesota, North Carolina and Tennessee. It is the team's largest recruiting class since adding 12 for the 2015-16 academic year.
Kastin Belogorska (RHP, Eden, Ga./South Effingham HS) Kastin Belogorska has been a standout pitcher for South Effingham High School, compiling 55 wins over her first three seasons. A three-time All-Region 25-AAAA first-team selection, Belogorska was named Region Pitcher of the Year as a junior when she posted a 27-7 record, 1.25 ERA and 212 strikeouts in 195 1/3 innings pitched. She has also been a second team all-state choice, while receiving a spot on the All-Greater Savannah first team. Belogorska led her time to an appearance in the 2018 Elite Eight, placing fifth in the state. The right-hander appeared in the 2018 GA Dugout Club All-State Game.
"Kastin is an amazing addition to the pitching staff," Richardson said. "She has multiple pitches with great spin. She will be very effective in the pitching circle. Kastin is a leader and her presence on the team will strengthen our resolve."
Savannah Channell (INF, Keystone Heights, Fla./Keystone Heights HS) Savannah Channell comes to Liberty as a strong infielder from Keystone Heights High School in Keystone Heights, Fla. A versatile infielder, Channell has started at both third base and shortstop during her career. She hit a combined eight home runs as a freshman and a sophomore. Channell competed for the Gainesville Gold and Jacksonville Storm in club softball. While in high school, she has also played basketball and volleyball.
"Savannah is extremely talented on both sides of the ball," Richardson said. "She will be an impact player and has the leadership to impact the infield in a huge way. Her defensive skills and softball IQ are some of the best in the nation."
Peyton Day (C/INF, Oak Ridge, N.C./Wesleyan Christian Academy) Peyton Day has made an impact as both a catcher and infielder for championship contender Wesleyan Christian Academy. She helped her team win the 2016 NCISAA 3A State Championship as a freshman, hitting a career-best .427. The following season, she hit .390 with a career-high .881 slugging percentage to earn her first all-state honor. A three-time all-conference selection, she moved to shortstop as a sophomore, batting .383 and slugging .723.
"Peyton is a second generation LU Flame," Richardson said. "Her parents met at Liberty and it is her dream to follow in their footsteps. I love her passion and aggressiveness. Her athleticism provides depth to this recruiting class and we are excited to develop her talents."
Story Giebeig (INF, Lake City, Fla./Columbia HS) Story Giebeig comes to Liberty from Columbia High School in Lake City, Fla. Strong on the field and in the classroom, Giebeig is a three-time FACA All-Academic Class 7A honoree. A three-time all-area selection, she hit .462 as a junior with 14 doubles, 30 RBI, a .545 on-base percentage and a .737 slugging percentage. During her sophomore season, Giebeig helped her team win the Class 7A District title, batting .352 and slugging .619. During her junior season, she earned FACA All-State honors and was named the Columbia High School MVP. Also a standout in bowling, she has twice competed in the state bowling finals.
"Story is a tremendous addition to the team," Richardson said. "Her power at the plate will contribute greatly to our offense. Story is a team player and will provide the team with strong balance both on and off the field."
Blake Gibson (INF, Dothan, Ala./Rehobeth HS) Blake Gibson brings a solid resume to Liberty as an infielder from Rehobeth High School in Dothan, Ala. A starting shortstop at Rehobeth, Gibson is a three-time all-conference selection. She was named to the all-state team as both a sophomore and a junior, earning a spot among the Super 12 in 2018. Gibson was voted the MVP of the 2018 North-South All-Star Game. The shortstop has hit 23 career homers, including a career-high 12 home runs during her sophomore season when she batted .471. As a junior, she hit .424 with a .535 on-base percentage. While at Rehobeth, her team has made the state tournament all three years, finishing third in 5A in 2018.
"When I first saw Blake, I immediately recognized her joyful spirit and hustle," Richardson said. "It is that energy which will be contagious to lift each other on the team up to new heights. She provides us with versatility both at the plate and on defense."
Caroline Hudson (C, Paris, Tenn./Henry County HS) Caroline Hudson is an outstanding catcher for Henry County High School in Paris, Tenn. A three-time all-district member, she batted .529 as a sophomore with an .807 slugging percentage and six home runs. She was named to the district all-tournament teams during her sophomore season, the first of two years in which she earned TSCA All-State mention. Her junior season saw Hudson bat .494 with 11 homers and a 1.025 slugging percentage. In club softball, her team won the 2018 16U Premier PGF National Championship. Her older sister, Celie Hudson, is a pitcher at Chattanooga.
"Caroline has played competitively at the highest levels and has been very successful," Richardson said. "We look forward to having one of the best hitters and catchers in the country."
Karlie Keeney (RHP, Providence, Ky./Webster County HS) Karlie Keeney is a strong right-hander out of Webster County High School, hailing from Providence, Ky. Over the span of her first three years of high school, she has totaled 635 strikeouts, 24 shutouts and a 1.27 ERA while also batting .430. Keeney has been named to the KHSAA All-State Team twice, while being a three-time all-district and all-region selection. She has excelled in the pitching circle and in the classroom, earning All-Academic Team honors at the district, region and state levels. Also a standout in basketball, she is a 1,000-point scorer who holds records for most three-pointers in a game and in a season.
"One of the top pitchers in the game," Richardson said. "Karlie is focused, competitive and knows what she wants and is willing to work hard to get it. Her work ethic will be contagious and inspiring."
McKenzie Murray (OF, Plymouth, Minn./Wayzata HS) McKenzie Murray is the member of this year's recruiting class who will have to travel the longest distance to campus, hailing from Plymouth, Minn. A two-time all-conference performer, Murray hit .476 during her junior season, leading her team in stolen bases and on-base percentage. She has split time between pitcher and the outfield over the past two seasons, and was an all-area selection in 2018. Her dad, Chris Murray, played wider receiver for the Montana football team.
"McKenzie will provide the team with more speed both in the outfield and at the plate," Richardson said. "She is a great fit for our program and we look forward to her contributions both on and off the field."
Gaby Ruiz (INF, Miami, Fla/Doral Academy) A native of Miami, Fla., Gaby Ruiz has been a starting shortstop at Doral Academy for three years. Ruiz was named Rookie of the Year during her freshman campaign and has increased her home run production each year. As a junior, she slugged 10 homers for Doral. She also competes in high school volleyball.
"Gaby will immediately have a presence on the field and in the game," Richardson said. "She is one of the top defenders in the game with great hands and a high softball IQ. Her instincts are inherent. She has a quiet confidence that will strengthen the defense and team resolve."
Glory Thompson (OF, Inglis, Fla./Dunnellon HS) Glory Thompson joins the Lady Flames as a speedster in the outfield from Dunnellon High School in Inglis, Fla. A slap-hitter, Thompson has totaled career stats of a .474 batting average, .529 on-base percentage, 108 hits, 66 RBI, 72 runs scored and 41 stolen bases. A three-time first-team all-county selection, she hit .542 (second-highest in the county) with 22 RBI, 32 runs scored and 16 stolen bases as a junior. Thompson has twice been named to the all-state team. During her junior year, she was 14th in the state for Class 6A in batting average.
"Speed, speed and more speed," Richardson said. "Glory has a joy for life and a joy for the sport. Her presence in the outfield will be aggressive and inspiring."
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