Faulkner State adds eight signees for next season

By Steve Dukes
Posted 7/11/07

Faulkner State softball coach Paul Jones has added eight more players to his roster, including three pitchers and three catchers, while several other recruits are considered utility players.

Pitcher Nicole Sweat of Loganville, Ga., near Atlanta, …

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Faulkner State adds eight signees for next season


Faulkner State softball coach Paul Jones has added eight more players to his roster, including three pitchers and three catchers, while several other recruits are considered utility players.

Pitcher Nicole Sweat of Loganville, Ga., near Atlanta, was probably the biggest catch. Sweat’s fastball has been clocked at 66 miles per hour, which Jones said is the equivalent of a high school, college or professional baseball pitcher with a 96 or 97 mile-an-hour fastball.

Sweat, Jones said, was 8-0 as a pitcher and had hit 11 home runs before suffering a broken leg last spring. Prior to the injury, several major colleges such as Alabama and Auburn were interested in Sweat, but backed off after the injury. Jones learned about Sweat at a pitching clinic in Atlanta that he attended with Robertsdale High School coach Steve Shartzer and his daughter Anna.

Sweat and her grandmother visited the Faulkner campus and liked what they saw, especially the school’s new softball field and dormitories. Those factors, along with FSCC’s close proximity to the Gulf of Mexico beaches, led Sweat to become a Lady Sun Chief.

“She’s worked at the pitcher’s mound for three years, and you know a pitcher’s committed when they go up there (to the Atlanta pitching clinic) and pay $80 an hour for somebody to teach them something,” Jones said.

Sweat and her teammates made it to the state tournament each of her last three seasons.

Along with on the field production, Sweat has been solid in the classroom having made, “a 1480 on her SAT and a 25 on her ACT,” Jones said.

Other recent signees of Jones are pitchers Amber Wilson of West Florida High in Pensacola, Jessica Morris of Flomaton, catchers Terri Johnson of Baker High in Mobile, Kendra Hill of Theodore, and Beth Readland of Northshore High School in Slidell, La., shortstop Stephanie Beane of Satsuma and center fielder Karley Jackson of Central-Phenix City

Jones said Wilson, “was probably one of the most underrated players in Pensacola. She played with the West Florida Elite last year and there (were) several four-year colleges (including) South Carolina, North Carolina and Louisiana (State) talking to her. Not only is she a good pitcher in that she’s hit 60 and 61 (miles per hour) before, but she’s also a really good third baseman and a really good hitter, a very good athlete.”

Wilson, Jones said, “is a really good athlete” who “just slipped through the cracks,” adding that he found out about Wilson from one of her coaches who had played at Faulkner.

Jones saw Wilson pitch against Tate High School and again during the summer.

“As far as a third baseman and hitter, she’s as good as anybody,” Jones said. As a pitcher, “she’s got four or five good pitches.”

Morris “won’t throw as hard as (Sweat and Wilson), but she’ll throw probably throw 57, 58, but what she really does real well, she keeps the ball low, spots it real well … and (gets) a lotta ground balls and a lotta weak fly balls, and you can win with kids like that.

“Jessica’s a competitor. She’s played on a state championship team and pitched and played second base, too. Jessica is one that’s gonna give you everything she’s got every time she’s out. You never have to question that.”

Johnson played shorstop two years ago for Baker’s perennial powerhouse Honeybees, and had originally signed with Okaloosa-Walton CC of Niceville, Fla.

Jones said Johnson will still have two years of eligibility at Faulkner since she did not play last spring.

“The one thing about Terri is she’s so versatile. She’s (wanting) to come in as a catcher, but she played shortstop for Baker two years ago, so she’s a very, very versatile athlete. I’m very proud to get her,” Jones said.

Hill is a “catcher, third baseman, just a (good) athlete,” Jones said. “The thing I like about Kendra is (she’s) just a heady ball-player, one that can actually sit there and call the game for you and is real smart about the things she does. She knows how hitters lean in and stuff like that.

“She’s very smart and very athletic, a good kid (who makes) good grades.”

Readland is the latest in a long list of Slidell athletes to come to Faulkner State. Jones saw her play in the Orange Beach Classic last spring.

“Beth just kinda stood out to me,” Jones said. “She was a really good leader and they had a young team. She also went through a lot of adversity because she had lost her home (during Hurricane) Katrina and actually her mom and dad had to leave to go to Illinois to get a job and she stayed down here with her brother because she wanted to graduate from Northshore.

“She’s just a kid that really fought through some adversity, but a really good kid. Real heady, and just a competitor.”

FSCC finished 35-22 last spring after going 30-30 in 2006, Jones’ first season as the Lady Sun Chiefs’ coach.