Peterson reloads with strong recruiting class

By Doug Fitzgerald published December 27, 2004

Faced with the loss of seven seniors after this season, University of Colorado at Colorado Springs softball coach Scott Peterson knew that the 2004 and 2005 recruiting classes would be pivotal in carrying forward the national ranking that the current Mountain Lions worked so hard to earn.

Peterson hit a home run with the 2004 class by landing several impact hitters, including Rocky Mountain News/Boulder Daily Camera/Denver Post player of the year Sarah Cleland. But with the Mountain Lions' top two pitchers from last season (Amber Colton and Brenna Pool) both graduating after this season, addressing pitching in the 2005 recruiting class was critical.

So Peterson did exactly that.

CU-Colorado Springs officially announced Monday the signing of two of Colorado's top high school pitchers, Kym Cade of Faith Christian and Angie Heronema of Berthoud, along with position players Nicole Link from D'Evelyn, Savannah Ledford of Thompson Valley, Courtney Banks of Northglenn and Brittany Cusumano of Keller (Texas) High School.

"We're proud of the group we signed," said Peterson. "These are the typical kids we get - good students from good families that really enjoy softball."

Cade posted a 0.43 ERA with 142 strikeouts and only 39 hits in 97 innings pitched. She also led her team in hitting with a .549 average and 18 stolen bases. Peterson, though, wants her to focus on pitching with the belief that she can reach elite status.

"Kym is a power pitcher," said Peterson. "She has a very live arm and is one of the hardest - if not the hardest - throwers in the state."

Heronema's statistics look much like Cade's, with a 0.53 ERA and 191 strikeouts in 144 innings. Unlike Cade, Heronema's success had more to do with location and guile.

"(Heronema is) a great control pitcher," said Peterson, pointing out that she walked only 27 batters this past season. "Her enthusiasm on the field is contagious to her teammates and the crowd. She will fit in with us very well."

The combination of the Cade's power and Heronema's location is reminiscent of CU-Colorado Springs' 2004 pitching duo of fireballer Amber Colton and scrapper Brenna Pool. That pair took the Mountain Lions to within a game of the national championship tournament.

"We have great expectations for both Kym and Angie as pitchers for several years," said Peterson. "They will complement each other very well."

Link, who hit .416 with 12 stolen bases this past season, is a classic Peterson recruit - strong, athletic and versatile. Although she was named All-Colorado by the Denver Post and first-team 4A All-State catcher by the Rocky Mountain News, Peterson said she has the athleticism to play shortstop if needed.

"We have seen Nicole play quite a bit over the last year and she always seems to come through with the big hits when needed," said Peterson. "Her athleticism is what we are so excited about, as she fits the mold of player we like. She is not one-dimensional."

Ledford also "fits the mold." The shortstop hit .452 with 11 stolen bases and five triples in just 72 at bats.

"(Ledford is an) extremely athletic shortstop who can play just about anywhere (on the field)," said Peterson. "(She has a) very strong arm for her size and has a bit of power packed into her swing."

But for real power, look no further than Banks. The catcher his .431 while leading the state in home runs with four despite having only 51 at bats. She also shows a plus arm and solid fundamentals behind the plate, important traits for a team that graduates All-American catcher Crystal Krebs after this season.

"Courtney Banks is one of the first true power hitters we have recruited out of high school," said Peterson. "She was a bit under the radar as far as recruiting goes, but when we saw her up close we knew we found a gem."

Cusumano has already played against competition as tough as she will face in the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference. Her Keller High School team was the Texas 5A state champions in 2004 and the NFCA national champions in 2003.

"Brittany is a very quick, smart outfielder that can cover a lot of ground in a hurry," said Peterson. "She's a very good contact hitter who always seems to find a way to get on base."

With so much talent joining a potent core, Peterson is optimistic that CU-Colorado Springs can become a fixture among the top teams in the RMAC, and possibly the nation.

"We're very excited about this group," said Peterson. "We're losing some great players after this season, but I don't think anybody will notice a big drop off."

UCCS Players/Staff Featured

Amber ColtonAmber Colton2PSo.
Amber ColtonAmber Colton2PJr.
Amber ColtonAmber Colton2PSr.
Brenna PoolBrenna Pool9IF/PJr.
Brenna PoolBrenna Pool9P/OFSr.
Courtney BanksCourtney BanksC
Kym CadeKym Cade9P
Brittany CusumanoBrittany Cusumano5OF
Angie HeronemaAngie Heronema1P
Savannah LedfordSavannah Ledford24SS
Nicole LinkNicole Link00C/IFSo.
Nicole LinkNicole Link00C/IFSo.
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