LEXINGTON, Ky. – University of Kentucky softball head coach Rachel Lawson, who is entering her sixth season at the helm of the UK program, has announced that Shannon Smith, Meagan Prince and Breanne “Buzz” Ray have signed National Letters of Intent to play softball at the University of Kentucky.
The three highly touted athletes will arrive in Lexington in the fall of 2013 from across the country. Smith comes to Lexington from Milford, Mass., while Prince is originally from Martin, Tenn. Ray is the lone in-state signee of the class having played at Marshall County High School in Benton, Ky.
“I am so excited to officially bring Shannon Smith, Meagan Prince and Buzz Ray into our softball program,” Lawson said. “All three are not only outstanding ball players, but they were chosen because they are the ultimate competitors. They also make an immediate impression because they are brilliant athletes and possess the dynamic attitudes that flourish when competing in a conference as pressure-packed as the SEC.”
Milford High School
About Shannon Smith: Smith, who is the 2010 and 2012 Gatorade Massachusetts Softball Player of the Year, will bring experience and tremendous talent to Lexington, Ky., next season. The two-way player is skilled both on the mound and in the batter’s box, posting impressive career numbers in high school with still one season left to play. Smith holds a career batting average of .450 with 90 RBI. On the mound, she has 861 career strikeouts in 447.2 innings pitched en route to a near-perfect 61-3 career record. Smith, who is a three-time league Most Valuable Player and three-time league All-Star, had a great season last year, striking out 359 batters in 169 innings with a 0.08 ERA. In all, Smith had nine no-hitters, five perfect games and seven one-hit games in 2012. For her efforts, she was named Miss Softball by ESPN Boston and the Athlete of the Year by the Metrowest Daily News. Smith is also a member of the National Honor Society, served as the secretary of the Student Council all four years of high school and is a four-year member on the school’s honor roll.
Lawson on Shannon Smith: “Recruiting Shannon has been a ton of fun because I knew her at the age of 10. To watch such a fun-loving kid turn into an accomplished pitcher is priceless. Shannon not only has an array of pitches, but possesses an outstanding ability to pitch the ball exactly where she wants to when the game is on the line. This pinpoint precision is essential when facing the outstanding line-ups in the SEC.”
Shannon Smith on Kentucky: “I chose Kentucky because the atmosphere is simply amazing. It compares to nothing up where I live. I love the campus and especially the passion (the fans have) for the school and athletics. The coaching staff is great because I think they complement each other well. All of the coaches are approachable, but tough. The coaching style makes it so a practice is challenging, but not miserable, which is something I look forward to.”
Westview High School
About Meagan Prince: Prince will join Smith as part of a talented pitching duo having herself broken several school pitching records during her time at Westview High School in Martin, Tenn. Prince owns the school record for strikeouts in a single season with her dominating 313 strikeouts last season. She also owns the school record for strikeouts in a game with a remarkable 22 punch outs in an eight-inning contest. On top of her 313 strikeouts last season, Prince posted a 0.73 ERA in 173 innings pitched. She earned a 0.41 ERA two years ago in her sophomore season. Prince’s impressive performance in 2012 earned her countless awards including the 2012 All-West Tennessee First-Team honor by Jackson Sun and a 2012 Class AA All-State Team selection by the Tennessee Sports Writers Association. Prince is a two-year member of the All-District 13-AA First-Team and was named to the All-District 13-AA All-Tournament Team last season. The talented athlete was the Most Valuable Player of her team last season having also won the Silver Slugger Award and Miss Clutch Award with her .369 batting average. Prince also won the team’s ERA Award each of the last two years and won the WHIP (walks plus hits per inning pitched) Award last season with a 0.69 mark.
Lawson on Meagan Prince: “Meagan Prince is one of the most ballistic pitchers I have had the pleasure of watching. Prince has the innate ability to create late break on her pitches and is great at changing speeds. Meagan is also the ultimate gamer who will pitch as many innings as necessary to keep her team in the game long enough to win it. “
Meagan Prince on Kentucky: “I am very excited to be able to say I'm officially a Wildcat. The University of Kentucky has a wonderful atmosphere, which makes me even more excited for my freshman year. I love the coaching staff. They are easy to talk to and fun to be around, however, they want to win and get the job done.”
Breanne “Buzz” Ray
Marshall County High School
About Breanne “Buzz” Ray: Ray will help carry the torch for in-state talent to make their home in Lexington, Ky., when she joins the Wildcats in the fall of 2013. Ray is a four-year varsity letterwinner at Marshall County High School, having won the team’s Offensive Award each of those years. Ray was named to the All-Region Team each of the last three seasons and played in the 2012 Kentucky East-West All-Star game. Ray’s career batting average sits at a blistering .484, while her career slugging percentage is equally impressive at .751. Aside from her playing time in high school, Ray competed on the Illinois Southern Force travel team, which finished top five in 2010 and 2011 at the Amateur Softball Association of America National Tournament. Outside of softball, Ray is an excellent student ranking high in her class in GPA while also being a member of the National Honor Society and Beta Club.
Lawson on Breanne “Buzz” Ray: “Buzz is one of those rare natural hitters that only comes around once in a blue moon. Buzz not only has outstanding power for a young hitter, but she is also an exceptional situational hitter. As a left-handed hitter, she could prove to make an immediate impact in the line-up that is loaded up with right handed power hitters.”
Breanne “Buzz” Ray on Kentucky: “UK has always been my dream school. Ever since my first camp I fell in love (with UK) and knew that someday I wanted to be a Wildcat. One of the main things that attracted me to UK was the amazing coaching staff. Coach Lawson and Coach Himes are not only outstanding coaches, but outstanding people as well. I already feel at home there and can't wait to be a part of the Big Blue Nation.”
Follow @UKSoftball on Twitter for the latest updates on the UK softball team, or visit UKathletics.com.