May 30, 2014
LOUDONVILLE, N.Y. – Siena softball head coach Bill Lajeunesse has announced his incoming class of 2018 with the addition of six new student athletes. Paige Hess, Brooke Taylor, Amanda Gatt, Sammy Smaldone, Lauren Butts and Mia Baldassari have returned their National Letters of Intent and will join the 2015 Siena Saints.
“We feel that this class will help us solidify our pitching staff and it will provide us depth in the key positions while giving us a good jolt offensively to improve on our offensive capabilities to compete with the top schools in the MAAC,” said Lajeunesse.
Paige Hess, a native from Gilbert, AZ will be a graduate of Campo Verde High School (CVHS). Hess, bats and throws from the right side, is currently playing travel ball with the Arizona Hotshots. Hess earned team Most Valuable Player following her junior season at Camp Verde High School. Hess possesses power at the plate and has proven she can connect for extra base hits regularly.
“We are looking for Paige to step right in to provide power and become a solid RBI producer in the middle of the lineup, said Lajeunesse. “Defensively, she plays the corner and mid-infield and we are excited that she will be a solid run producer. “
Hess has accumulated several athletic accomplishments over her career including being named a member to the 2012 18Gold ASA Nationals, 2011 & 2010 14U Premier Nationals and the 14U ASA State and 14U Goliath Champions in 2010.
Hess has earned seven postseason awards for her play last season, including CVHS MVP Award, Hess garnered the CVHS Golden Glove Award and the CVHS Silver Slugger Award. Hess was named to the Div. Gilbert All-District and All-Tribune Honorable Mention in 2013.
Brooke Taylor is a native of Peoria, AZ and will be a graduate from Sunrise Mountain High School. Taylor is an outfielder and is currently a teammate of Paige Hess on the Arizona Hotshots travel team. Taylor has earned four athletic club accomplishments by being named to the 2013 PGF Platinum Nationals, TCS Colorado Fireworks Showcase 18U, the 2013 Champions Cup 18U and the ASA Las Vegas JO Showcase. Taylor played on the USA/ASA 18Gold Nationals in 2012.
Taylor also participates in community activities with the Best Buddies program, the Spanish Club and as a volunteer at the Elderly Care Center. Her career goal is to become a Pediatric Orthopedic Surgeon.
“ Taylor is a solid outfielder that covers a lot of ground, said Lajeunesse. “She swings a left-handed bat well and will be a table setter in the lineup offensively.”
Amanda Gatt, a local Voorheesville, N.Y. native is coming to the Saints as a transfer from Temple University with the clearance to play immediately. Temple University announced they are cutting their softball program and four other sports in an effort to reduce operating costs. Under NCAA transfer rules, students are immediately eligible for competition when the students’ original institution discontinues the sport in which the student practiced or competed.
Gatt, a 5-7 pitcher, will be a sophomore this season after playing her freshman season at Temple. Gatt had 16 appearances with 12 starts for the Owls, going 4-7 with a 4.28 ERA and striking out 37 batters in 73.2 innings pitched.
Prior to Temple, Gatt Attended Clayton A. Bouton High School in New York and was awarded the Colonial Council Class C MVP as a senior as well as a First Team All-State Small School Team member. Gatt made the East Coast Elite Adidas Futures team and recorded a school record 975 career strikeouts and a school single-season record of 325 strikeouts over 156 1/3 innings as a junior.
“A transfer from Temple and a local girl that we are glad to have her back pitching in the Capital Region, said Lajeunesse. We are looking for her to provide stability in the circle with the loss of J.J. Sandrini and are excited to get another experienced arm from her year at Temple to go with our returning pitching staff and bring the program some wins.”
Sammy Smaldone, another local native of Delmar, N.Y. attended Bethlehem High School and is attending Siena after playing at Herkimer College for the last two years. Smaldone and Herkimer College won the 2013 National Championship and earned their second consecutive trip to the NJCAA World Series as Region III Champions.
Smaldone played in 39 games this season, batting a team high .541 (72-for-133) with 23 doubles and nine home runs. Smaldone slugged .917 with an on base percentage of .559 while striking out only four times. Smaldone was named to the 2014 NJCAA All-Region First Team and the 2014 Mountain Valley All-Conference Team.
“Sammy should provide depth behind the plate with her outstanding mechanics and throwing arm, said Coach Lajeunesse. “She will provide us with middle of the order power and has the capability to hit for average.”
Lauren Butts, a native of West Chester, Pa. comes to Siena as a graduate of Henderson High School. Butts will see time in the circle for the Saints this season.
“We are looking to have Lauren step right in as a freshman and be a solid contributor in innings pitched, said Lajeunesse. “She should be able to compete from the first day she steps on campus and she will be an outstanding addition to the pitching staff.”
Butts is a power pitcher and had an 18-1 record and a 0.60 ERA during her junior campaign at Henderson. Butts is currently traveling with the Jersey Nightmare, an 18U Gold team from Yardville, N.J. Butts also carries a big bat after hitting .394 this season with 26 hits and 20 RBI’s.
Mia Baldassari a native of Rockaway, N.J. will join the Saints this season as a graduate from Morris Knolls High School. Mia led Morris Knolls this season to the North Jersey Section 2, Group 4 title behind her two-run home run, defeating Roxbury 5-0 this last week.
Baldassari is described as a tall athlete and a strong-armed outfielder that can cover a lot of ground. Baldassari is a 2013 NFCA All-American and led the team in all of the major offensive categories, batting average, slugging percentage, hits, singles, doubles, triples, home runs and runs scored. Baldassari is playing summer travel ball with the New Jersey Pride.
Mia is a left-handed outfielder to add depth and provides a lot of ground and swings the bat very well, said Lajeunesse. “She has the potential to be a solid run producer for us offensively.”
Siena is coming off of a record 2014 season as the finished with a program record 29 wins and finished above .500 for the first time in 35 years (1979). The program loses their senior leadership in Jessika-Jo Sandrini. Sandrini set personal and school records this season with 20 wins, 164 strikeouts and a power bat in the middle of the lineup, but bring back the core of this season’s team with Stephanie Viggiano, Abby Carpenter, Paige Lloyd, Alyssa Lancaster and Chelsey Drew. Siena expects to compete for one of the top spots in the MAAC again and the opportunity to compete for its first MAAC Championship title.