Fresh off an appearance in the Super Regionals and potentially welcoming back all of its significant contributors, the Virginia Tech softball team will be joined this fall by one of the most highly ranked recruiting classes in school history.
“I’m excited about our 2021 class,” said Hokies Coach Pete D’Amour. “We have a little of everything coming in. Pitching, defense, speed, and all of them (even the pitcher!) can swing it.”
The newcomers include six high school signees and senior transfer Ally Repko. Repko, who played travel ball with the Williamsburg Starz, played primarily third base and catcher this past season for Elon, where she hit .340 with nine home runs.
The freshmen class is highlighted by two players in Extra Innings Softball Top 30 Recruits for 2021, Infielder Brianna Peck (#21) from Spring Ford High School (Royersford, PA) and pitcher Emma Lemley (#30) from Jefferson Forest High School (Forest, VA).
Peck is a three-time Pennsylvania 6A first-team all-state and was the she was the 2019 PA Gatorade High School Softball Player of the Year as a sophomore. She was a 1st team Extra Inning Softball High School All-American. She reportedly has a bat velocity of 80-plus mph and has been described as “a super smooth and athletic 5-foot-10 shortstop with great range and a combine-clocked 71-mph overhand throw.”
Lemley, who plans on majoring in engineering, is a powerful right-handed pitcher who has been clocked in the high 60’s. After last season, her travel ball record was 113-20 with 1,204 strikeouts in 720 innings. She “has been dominant virtually every time she pitches,” said one of her coaches.
Roanoke station WFRX did a feature on her recently: Jefferson Forest’s Emma Lemley leading by example in helping her teammates succeed | WFXRtv
They are joined by four more top notch recruits:
Utility Player Alison Carter from North Stafford High School (Stafford, VA) is a two-time 1st team all-region and was named to the Northeast Virginia All-Decade Team by the Fredericksburg Free Lance-Star. She is a career .442 hitter for Virginia Unity with 21 home runs, 156 runs batted in, 38 doubles and 24 triples…Batted .545 for 2018 Unity team that won the Virginia state championship and placed 13th at USA Nationals.
Utility Player Rachel Castine from Greenbrier Christian Academy (Cheasapeake, VA) just returned from action this week after an ankle injury. She batted .403 with 5 HRs and 33 RBIs as a sophomore and was named Female Athlete of the Year for the 2017-18 and 2019-20 seasons.
Utility Player Ari Wright from Creekview High School (Canton, GA) has big-time power. She is a 2-time first-team all-state selection as well as the 2019 Cherokee County Region Player of the Year when she hit .519 during the fall 2020 season with 15 home runs and 11 doubles.
Infielder Catie Hopkins from Charles J. Holgan Senior High (Woodbridge, VA) is a multi-sport athlete who helped Hogan to their district championship.
Softball does not have multiple ranking services like football and basketball, but it would appear that the Hokies incoming class is exceptional high quality.
Alliance Fastpitch will be holding a national All-Star game for high school seniors on July 27th in Oklahoma City. Their initial watch list for the game included five Hokies (Carter, Castine, Hopkins, Lemley, and Peck), more than any other Super Regional Team other than Oklahoma, which had six players on the list.
From the Alliance press release: “All athletes on this list have committed or signed to play college softball next year including representation from all 16 NCAA Super Regional Teams. Oklahoma leads the way with 6 signees followed by Texas, LSU, and Virginia Tech with 5 signees and Kentucky with 4 signees. Additional college representation includes UCLA (2), Alabama (3), Florida (3), Oklahoma State (3), Arkansas (3), Missouri (3), Florida State (1), Arizona (1), Washington (3), Georgia (2), and James Madison (2).”
Those numbers speak volumes about the quality of this class, but D’Amour realizes that he also has a solid group of returning veterans. “I see a lot of potential with these young ladies,” said D’Amour, “ but as our AD always says, ‘the train full of returners is speeding down the rails, it’s up to the freshman to hop on board and get acclimated as soon as they can….the train won’t stop.’ I’m confident the freshmen will adjust quickly.”
For Virginia Tech softball fans, next season can’t come soon enough.