The Oklahoma Christian University athletic department will welcome 14 freshmen Eagles and Lady Eagles next fall, as the high school seniors took part in the early period of the NCAA’s National Letter of Intent Signing Dates on Nov. 9-16. The signees represented the women’s basketball, golf, softball and swim teams and the men’s baseball and swim teams.
“It feels like a huge relief that I now have my home for the next four years,” new softball signee Peyton Sabolski said. “Now that I have signed, I can just work on my game to be as ready as possible for when I get to OC.”
Three of the commits are the first to sign a letter of intent for Oklahoma Christian’s new swim program, which will begin competition in 2017-18. Ashley Hammons, a qualifier for the Speedo Winter Junior Championships and the National Club Swimming Association Summer Championships, is a member of the Houston Swim Club and has a top time of 4:59.49 in the 500-yard freestyle and 2:04.51 in the 200-yard butterfly. She is the first signee to the women’s program.
The swim team also picked up its first two signees for the men’s team, including Daniel Rutledge from Grapevine, TX. The Mid-Cities Arlington Swimmers member reached the Texas Class 5A state meet in four events as a junior and has met USA Swimming AAA time standards in the 100 freestyle, 200 freestyle, 500 freestyle, 800 freestyle and the 200 and 400 intermediate medleys. Rutledge also met AA time standards in the 50 freestyle, 100 butterfly, 100 backstroke and 200 backstroke.
Brittan Butler of Siloam Springs, AR, was the second recruit to sign with the men’s team. The Razorback Aquatic Club swimmer placed fifth in the 500-yard freestyle and seventh place in the 200-yard intermediate medley at the Arkansas State Meet with times of 5:00.29 and 2:04.86, respectively.
The Oklahoma Christian golf team signed two seniors, including its third Australian player, Felicity Wittenberg. In 2015, Wittenberg placed 17th in the New South Wales All Schools Golf Championship and received All-State honors both in 2015 and 2016. She also was the Avondale Golf Club’s Nett Junior Champion in 2013, 2015 and 2016.
Two-time Texas individual state champion golfer Shaley Goad from Fort Elliott High School will also join the Lady Eagle golf team next fall. She was named the Amarillo Globe News’ girls golf athlete of the year in 2015 and was the Panhandle Sports Hall of Fame golfer of the year in 2015. Goad won the Class 1A state title by seven shots in 2015 and by 13 shots as a junior this spring.
“I am thrilled to be continuing my golf career as an Eagle,” Goad said. “I first heard about OC through an online recruiting website, NCSA. Coach Lynn and I remained in contact throughout the spring and early summer. He watched me play and in July I took a visit to OC, verbally committing to play here in mid-August. I chose OC because of the great practice facilities on and off campus, and the fact that it is a Christian school and only three hours from home.”
Shortstop Alex Hansen from Olathe Northwestern High School in Kansas was the sole baseball player to sign for the Eagles during November. As a junior, Hansen hit .356 with 10 RBIs and served as the team’s closer, going 1-0 with one save and a 0.00 ERA in five innings. The senior also played for the Kansas City Barnstormers summer team, hitting .405 with 21 RBIs and 15 stolen bases during 2016.
The Lady Eagles softball team had four players sign National Letters of Intent during the early signing period, including Daelyn Denny, an outfielder for Owasso High School in Oklahoma. Denny’s high school team qualified for the Class 6A state softball tournament this fall, with Denny earning Oklahoma High School Fast-Pitch Coaches Association All-State honors after hitting .400 with 35 RBIs, scoring 41 runs and stealing 12 bases.
Sabolski from Rowlett High School in Texas will also join the Lady Eagles in the fall. The catcher helped lead her high school team to a district championship and the Texas Class 6A regional quarterfinals during her junior season, hitting .347 with 10 home runs and 43 RBIs. Following the season, she was named the District 11-6A defensive most valuable player and was named to The Dallas Morning News’ All-Area second-team list as a utility player.
“I am most excited about getting to meet new people when I get to campus, to play for Coach Heath and accomplish great things with the team,” Sabolski said.
Hannah Dean of Guthrie High School will pitch and play first base for the Lady Eagles next fall. The four-year starter for Guthrie helped lead her team to its first state tournament appearance since 1998, and was a first-team All-District 5A-1 selection.
Utility player Mary Gerken from Gainsville High School also signed to join the Oklahoma Christian program, hitting .466 with two home runs and 18 RBIs as a junior and helping lead her team to its first postseason win in program history. Gerken also went 14-7 with a 3.08 ERA and 86 strikeouts in 107 innings in the circle.
The Oklahoma Christian women’s basketball team will also add four players to their roster next fall, including Newcastle High School’s 6-foot forward Katie Mayo, who was part of the Class 4A state championship team in March. Mayo scored 22 points in the title-winning game and was named the state tournament’s most valuable player. She made VYPE magazine’s list of 100 top Oklahoma players as a junior and senior and earned Little All-City second-team honors from The Oklahoman after averaging 15.8 points as a junior.
“She runs the floor really well,” Head Basketball Coach Stephanie Findley said. “She has good post moves and can shoot the 3-pointer. I’m really looking forward to her coming and being able to play right away, especially with all of the height that we will be losing after this season.”
Ali Christie from Fort Gibson, OK, will also join the Lady Eagles in the fall, as the 5-foot-10 forward was part of a high school team that reached the Class 4A state tournament during each of her first three seasons and won the 2014 title during her freshman year. Christie averaged 8.1 points and five rebounds per game as a junior and received honorable mention honors on the Tulsa World’s All-Metro team.
Point guard Maddison Collyer from Harrah High School advanced to the Class 4A title game last season and received honorable mention on The Oklahoman Little All-City team after both her sophomore and junior seasons, averaging eight points per game. Collyer led Class 4A in total assists as a junior with 145 and added 56 steals. The senior made the all-tournament teams chosen by The Oklahoman and Tulsa World following the state tournament in March.
Tyra Peck of Pond Creek Hunter High School will join her three future teammates at Oklahoma Christian next fall as the fourth women’s basketball signee. Peck was part of the Class 4A state championship team in 2014 and its runner-up team in 2016. The four-year starter received honorable mention on The Oklahoman’s Class A All-State team as a junior and on the Enid News and Eagle’s All-Northwestern honor teams as both a sophomore and junior. Peck was named to the all-tournament team for Class A in 2016, after averaging 12.5 points, six rebounds, 4.2 steals and 4.1 assists per game as a junior.
The NCAA will hold its regular period of National Letter of Intent signing from April 12 to Aug. 1, 2017.
Statistics provided by the Oklahoma Christian University Sports Information office.