Francis Marion University women's softball coach Stacey Vallee has announced that three transfer pitchers will join the Patriot program this fall: 5-10 right-hander Kate Ellard of Cary, N.C., 5-7 right-hander Amie Hutchison of Fakenham, United Kingdom, and 5-10 right-hander Hannah Shirley of Evansville, Ind. Ellard will have three years of eligibility at FMU, while Hutchison and Shirley will have two.
Ellard played her freshman year at Division I University of Massachusetts-Lowell. She posted a 2-4 record in 11 appearances (42.1 innings pitched) with three complete games.
She is a graduate of Green Hope High School, where she played for coach Logan Hill. She was a two-time Academic All-Conference selection and served as team captain during her senior campaign. During her final prep season, she registered a 9-3 record with a 1.95 earned run average and 100 strikeouts in 82 innings. She garnered second-team All-Conference honors for her play on the field as a junior after posting 83 strikeouts in 88 innings and leading her team in home runs.
"Kate played her freshman year in Massachusetts, but is from just up the road in Cary," Vallee said. "She has all the tools to be successful: good grades, great personality, and softball skills. She fit in from the moment she stepped on campus and we can't wait to see what she will bring to the table this fall. We hope that her new home brings her much joy and success on and off the field."
Hutchison played this past season at Gulf Coast State College where she made 23 appearances in the circle, including seven starts, and posted a 4-2 record with a 2.66 ERA and 28 strikeouts in 47.1 innings. Among her wins was a 2-1 decision over the number-one ranked team (Chipola College) in the country. At the plate, she batted .436 with 15 doubles, a homer, and 47 runs batted in with six stolen bases. She earned second-team All-Panhandle Conference honors for 2018.
Hutchison played her freshman year at Eastern Florida State College. She registered a 1-3 mark with a 5.33 ERA in eight appearances.
She is a product of Fakenham Academy Norfolk. She played for the Great Britain National Team and earned a gold medal in 2016 with the U19 squad and a bronze medal in 2017. She has been selected to play with the U22 squad at the European Championships in Slovakia this July. She is hoping to secure a spot on the senior women's team for ESF's new Super 6 Tournament in the Netherlands in September.
"Amie will be a great addition to our program as she is a wonderful pitcher, but can also play other positions and brings a consistent bat to the lineup as well. She has a great drive to be the best she can be and this is one of the things that will help her and our program reach higher in 2019. She is going to bring that drive and hopefully it will be contagious to her teammates as well. She is coming off a year where she had some very good success in the circle."
Shirley spent the last two years at Wabash Valley College. As a sophomore, she made 30 appearances in the circle and recorded a 20-3 record with one save, a 1.43 ERA, and 186 strikeouts (with only 15 walks) in only 167 innings of work. At the plate, she hit .436 with seven doubles and 30 RBIs. She earned NJCAA All-Region XXIV honors and was named to the region All-Tournament Team. She was named the most valuable player of the Great Rivers Athletic Conference and garnered second-team NFCA All-Midwest Region accolades while helping lead the Lady Warriors to a 51-10 record. During the regular season, she picked up a national pitcher of the week award from the NJCAA.
During her freshman campaign, she posted a 15-1 pitching mark with one save, a 1.82 ERA, and 88 strikeouts (against only 7 walks) in 115.1 innings. She batted .463 with three doubles, three home runs, 16 RBIs, and a .500 on-base percentage as Wabash Valley went 52-8.
She is a graduate of Reitz High School, where she played for coach Allen Woodruff. She was a member of her school's National Honor Society.
"Hannah had some very good numbers last year at her junior college and we expect her to bring those numbers and then some to FMU. She possesses a good bat. Her future is very bright. She will bring leadership to the field, and has a great personality that I can't wait to see affect our team in a positive way."
The Patriots lost only two seniors off last year's 19-25 squad.
Valle previously announced the signing of three high school seniors; 6-0 first basemen Addie May of Vale, N.C., 5-5 middle infielder Darian Buss of Huntsville, Ala., and 5-9 right-handed pitcher Janecia (Neci) Hemingway of Conway, S.C.; and the addition of 5-4 outfielder Kayleigh Walters of Valrico, Fla., a transfer from the State College of Florida; and 5-3 catcher Sage Harrison of St. Helens, Ore., who will join the Patriot program this fall after transferring from Seward County Community College.