BERKELEY -- The perennial national powerhouse California softball program, which placed third at the 2012 College World Series and finished fifth at the national tournament in 2011, has signed three high school athletes to National Letters of Intent, it was announced today (Nov. 15) by head coach Diane Ninemire. Cal's list of standouts, who will join the program in the fall of 2013, are catcher Alleah Laxamana, infielder/outfielder Kylie Reed and right-handed pitcher Katie Sutherland-Finch.
Laxamana is a 5-foot-7 backstop out of Long Beach (Calif.) Wilson, and as a junior was named first-team all-league and first-team Long Beach Press Telegram Dream Team Catcher of the Year. Laxamana was also named 2012 Harry J. Moore League MVP, leading her school to its first league title since 1992.
"Alleah has a strong arm and a great command behind the plate, she will be a great addition to the team," said Ninemire. "She is a tremendous vocal leader who will have an immediate impact. Alleah was also a nationally recognized figure skater, the first one to come through our program, so it will be great to see the different skills that she brings to the team."
Laxamana is also outstanding academically, earning CIF Southern Section Academic Honorable Mention and is interested in majoring in biomedical engineering once she gets to Berkeley -- hearkening back to former Bears pitching great Kristina Thorson, who majored in public health and infectious diseases.
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"I chose Cal because it is recognized as the most prestigious public university in the nation for both its academics and athletics," said Laxamana. "I was born in Marin County and while living in the Bay Area as a little girl my parents would take me to a few Cal softball games. I was so intrigued and became very eager to play. I am very familiar with the area and have family who live locally. I also chose Cal because of the diversity and urban setting. I love the city."
Reed is a 5-foot-5 second baseman/outfielder from Corona (Calif.) Norco. As a junior, Reed was a member of the ESPN Rise All-America team, first-team All-CIF Division I, Cal-High Sports All-State, Press Enterprise All Inland Area First Team and first-team Big 8 All-League, as well as a member of numerous all tournament teams.
"Kylie is an outstanding hitter and has the capability to be the engine that makes our team run," Ninemire said. "She will add great speed and consistency to our roster."
Reed helped lead her team to the 2012 Big 8 League title, the CIF Southern Section Division I title, the California State Title and the ESPN Fab 50 National Crown.
"I selected Cal because of its excellent academic reputation," explained Reed. "Also, Cal's softball program provides a family-like support system that will help me reach my full potential."
Hillsboro (Ore.) Glencoe standout Sutherland-Finch is an outstanding 5-foot-4 right-handed pitcher, who, during her junior season, earned 6A first-team all-state honors with 318 strikeouts.
"Katie possesses a great awareness of all of her pitches," Ninemire said. "She is a mechanically sound pitcher and we look forward to her being a mainstay in the circle for the Golden Bears. Katie has a great understanding of the game, and you can see that she is eager to learn more."
Sutherland-Finch was the 6A Pacific Conference Pitcher of the Year and was first-team all-league. She was also a Gatorade Player of the Year Selection finalist for the second year in a row and three times was named student-athlete player of the week. Sutherland-Finch led Glencoe to the Pacific Conference title and a fifth place finish at the state championships as well.
"I chose Cal because it fits," said Sutherland-Finch. "When I was younger my parents took me to Berkeley for a family vacation. After much begging, I got them to take me to Levine-Fricke where I snuck my way onto the field and began dreaming of a collegiate career that (at the time) seemed so far away. I had no idea that a few years later I would be committing to life as a Golden Bear, but I wouldn't have had it any other way. Through the recruiting process every school I visited I compared to Cal, even when I hadn't started my process with them yet. I chose Cal because I know it's going to be a challenge. Academically, Berkeley will push me in a way I have yet to experience. Athletically, I know being a Golden Bear will help me realize my full potential. The atmosphere is rich in tradition and excellence. I chose Cal because I want to be part of that tradition and be a Golden Bear for the rest of my life. I cannot wait to begin that adventure next fall."
Ninemire -- who enters the 2013 season having led the Bears to 25 straight NCAA Tournament appearances and 10 College World Series - including a 2002 national title -- said of her newest bunch that they are all "extreme competitors."
"All of the girls ... bring winning attitudes to the team," said Ninemire. "All of these players are also outstanding academically, so they will be great assets to the team and the university."