BROOKINGS – The South Dakota State softball program completed its signing class ahead of the 2022-23 academic year as head coach Kristina McSweeney announced four additions to the team. Joining the Jackrabbits since McSweeney was named head coach in late June are Shannon Lasey, Bailey Way, Mariah Wheeler and Alexa Williams.
“I’m very excited to have been able to add some depth to the roster on an already well-rounded team,” McSweeney said. “To add four new faces so late in the game was a blessing in itself. I’m really excited about all of them to make their impact to next season’s squad.”
Shannon Lasey | 5-11 | R/R | P | Dover, Ark. | Pottsville H.S. | Arkansas Tech (Jr.)
Lasey makes her way to Brookings following two seasons at Arkansas Tech while playing for McSweeney. Lasey was a two-time all-conference selection for the Golden Suns, which included GAC Pitcher of the Year accolades in 2022 and two consecutive GAC Tournament MVP awards.
Lasey recorded a 1.71 ERA over the span of two seasons including a 1.27 ERA as a sophomore in 2022. She went 19-8 this past spring throwing over 170 innings, racking up 152 strikeouts and pitching 11 complete games. She had one perfect game and a no-hitter in her time at Arkansas Tech. She was a member of the school’s Dean’s List on four occasions as she majors in biochemistry.
Prior to her time at Arkansas Tech, Lasey helped Pottsville High School win two state championships while compiling an under 2.00 ERA on the mound. She was an All-State selection once and was a two-time all-conference choice despite her senior season being cut short in 2020.
“Shannon is the epitome of a power right-handed pitcher,” McSweeney said. “She will help bring a different look to the pitching staff. Grace (Glanzer) and Tori (Kniesche) did a phenomenal job last year and Shannon is going to come in and push the both of them while also adding a different look. She’s a down-ball pitcher, so she’ll provide another option.”
Bailey Way | 5-6 | L/R | IF | Wichita, Kan. | Andover H.S.
Way was a standout for Andover High School over the past two seasons at both the plate and in the infield for the Trojans. Way had a breakout junior year earning Ark Valley-Chisholm Trail League Player of the Year honors, 1st Team All-State, 1st Team Short Stop All-League, All-Metro Shortstop and County Player of the Year accolades. She took over six program records as she set new marks in batting average (.647), on-base percentage (.704), slugging percentage (1.254), runs (34) as well as hits (44), with more than half of her hits coming by extra bases.
She continued her strong play as a senior as she eventually set Andover’s career on-base percentage (.589) and slugging percentage (.881) records. Her 2022 campaign was highlighted by 1st Team All-State Infield, 1st Team All-Butler County, 2022 All-Metro and All-League 2nd Team Shortstop recognition. She was a highly successful student in the classroom as she was a Magna Cum Laude graduate and garnered an Easton/NFCA All-American Scholar Athlete Award.
“Bailey is a highly-recruited freshman coming here,” McSweeney said. “She was between SDSU and Arkansas Tech, so it was great to get her here to Brookings. She’s speedy, quick, can play all the infield positions. She is a triple threat at the plate, so she will be able to push some of our starters and possibly fight for a spot in the spring.”
Mariah Wheeler | 5-5 | L/L | OF | Wichita, Kan. | Derby H.S. | Butler CC (Jr.)
Wheeler spent the last two seasons at Butler Community College and was a starter for back-to-back Grizzly squads that advanced to the NJCAA Softball Championship tournament. Wheeler had a strong opening season as a freshman in 2021 as she hit 14 home runs, produced 56 RBIs, had a .512 on-base percentage while batting .458. She was a first-team all-conference selection as she helped Bulter earn a district title.
She carried that momentum into a sophomore year where she still put together strong numbers. In 40 games, Wheeler had seven home runs and 39 RBIs while hitting .378. She was an honorable mention for the all-conference team. Prior to Butler, Wheeler was a member of a Derby High School squad that made three state tournament appearances finishing as high as third. She was a two-time all-league choice despite her senior year being cut short.
“Mariah is a fierce competitor in the outfield,” McSweeney said. “She plays all out and is living a dream to play at the Division I level. She hits gap to gap and is a home run hitter. She will add some depth in the outfield and add to the speed we already have out there.”
Alexa Williams | 5-10 | L/L | P/UT | Lincoln, Neb. | Lincoln Northeast H.S. | UTSA
Williams spent the previous two seasons at UTSA and was utilized as a pitcher for the Roadrunners. The lefty made 34 appearances over two years in San Antonio and compiled her best 4.38 ERA during the 2022 season. Before her college tenure, Williams was a standout on both the mound and at the plate for Lincoln Northeast High School.
Williams set several program records during her time starring for the Rockets. A four-year letterwinner in softball, as a freshman she hit .514 and had nine home runs en route to Freshman All-State honors. The following year as a sophomore she set the school’s single-season record of 10 home runs, then despite her junior year being cut short due to injury, she established the career home run total at 22. Williams’s senior season saw her be named all-city pitcher while she crushed 16 home runs and drove in 52 runs, both of which are Lincoln Northeast records. She was an Academic Honor Roll selection every year of her prep career.
“Alexa brings in high-level college experience having played at UTSA,” McSweeney said. “She can come in and do multiple things, not only pitch, but also play first base and hit. She’ll bring some diversity to our lineup as a big lefty stick.”
The South Dakota State softball team is set to bring in 11 newcomers which includes a majority of the signings previously announced during the previous season. The entire 2022-23 group will come together this month when the fall semester begins.
“I say every day how ready I am to get practice started and get everybody here,” McSweeney said. “It’s incredible to be able to walk into the situation that I’m in. We’ve got a wonderful, hardworking, mature team and it’s exciting to add a couple pieces to finish the puzzle.
“I’m looking forward to seeing what success lies ahead for this group. My goal is to push this team and we want to be contending to win a championship and then pushing them to compete at a regional to win that. With what we have coming back and our signings, and with some fresh eyes on some amazing players, we’ll get there.”