SIOUX FALLS, S.D. – University of Sioux Falls Softball Coach Shannon Pivovar has announced the signing of five student-athletes who will enroll at USF and begin classes in the fall of 2019 continue their academic and athletic careers at USF.
The NCAA recruiting signing period opened on Wednesday, Nov. 14, which allowed student-athletes to sign with their respective programs. Joining the Cougars in 2019 will be Hannah Cress, right-handed pitcher, Omaha, Neb.; Alex Hanson, catcher, Ceresco, Neb.; Karington Kadel, right-handed pitcher, Smithville, Mo.; Annie Kniesche, shortstop, Wayne, Neb.; and Shayla Running, IF, Roosevelt, S.D.
"We are excited to welcome this amazing group of graduates and their wonderful families to the University of Sioux Falls," said Pivovar, who begins her first season as head softball coach at USF. "On and off the softball field, this class epitomizes what it means to be a student-athlete, bringing championship experience and high-level competitiveness as both softball players and students to our family."
"When looking at the direction that this program is continuing to grow toward, competing every year for championships in the NSIC and Region, filling in with these intangible qualities will put this group in a position to be extremely successful," said Pivovar. "In addition to these qualities, this class provides power at the plate and accuracy on the mound. We cannot wait to get them onto campus to let see how they will grow within our softball family."
Hannah Cress, RHP, Omaha, Neb./Millard West HS
Cress, who is the daughter of Wade and Melissa Cress, comes to USF after a stellar high school career for Millard West High School in Millard, Nebraska. Cress, who was a Lincoln Journal Star and Omaha World Herald Second-Team Class A and Super State performer, finished her senior season with 10-5 record, 19 saves, and had 168 strikeouts to just 41 walks. She was also named to the Metro Coaches All-Division team following a fourth place finish at the Nebraska State Tournament in 2018. Cress was named to the All-Division Honorable Mention her junior season after recording a 13-5 record with 17 saves for the Wildcats.
"Hanna brings excellence on and off the field to our USF family. She has proven herself as a high-caliber pitcher against top-level competition both in high school and travel ball. This quality experience will allow the Nebraska native to come in and make an immediate impact on the pitching staff," said Pivovar. "We couldn't be more excited to see where she can go, as her ceiling continues to get higher with the hard work she puts in."
Alex Hanson, C, Ceresco, Neb./Raymond Central HS
A catcher from Raymond Central High School, Hanson joins the Cougars after a stand out high school career. Hanson, who is the daughter of Jason Hanson and Marcy Hanson, finished her senior season with a .532 batting average. Hanson had 10 home runs to set a new Raymond Central single-season record as she broke her own record of eight home runs as a sophomore.
A native of Ceresco, Neb., she leaves the Mustangs as the all-time career home run holder. Hanson twice earned Omaha World Herald All-State second-team honors, while being named to the Lincoln Journal Star's All-State first-team three times. She also participated in dance, basketball, and track in high school.
"Alex comes to USF with a very high level of competitive softball under her belt. She has played against some of the top teams in the country with her Nebraska Gold teammates and gained experience that will help her transition into the collegiate game," said Pivovar. "Her work ethic combined with her understanding of the game will help Alex be successful on the field and as a leader. We are so thrilled she is choosing to be a Cougar the next four years and cannot wait to see to what levels she can take our team."
Kadel, the daughter of Barry and Melinda Kadel, starred at Smithville High School and will add depth to the USF pitching staff. A multi-year conference and district champion, Kadel led her Warrior team to top-four finishes in Missouri in back-to-back seasons. She was named a first-team all-conference, all-district, all-region, and all-state following a third-place finish in her junior year and is awaiting senior year postseason honors. Kadel also played basketball and soccer in high school while excelling in the classroom and earning all-state academic honors three years.
"Karington's dedication to her craft makes her an excellent addition to our program and the direction we are taking it. She is an excellent student in the classroom and also student of the game. Her success in high school ball in Missouri gives her an added background that she can translate into a winning future at USF," said Pivovar. "We are excited to get her on campus next fall and be able to see the strides and growth she makes through her time as a Cougar."
Annie Kniesche, SS, Wayne, Neb./Wayne HS
A key cog at shortstop for the 2018 Class C State Champion Wayne High Blue Devils, Kniesche brings championship experience to the Cougar family. A three-sport high school athlete (also participated in basketball and track), she finished her senior season with a .436 batting average, 25 runs batted in on 34 hits (15 for extra bases).
Kniesche, who is the daughter of Vince and Vicki Kniesche, was named to the Lincoln Journal Star and Omaha World Herald All-State honorable mention lists. She also earned first-team Mid-State All-Conference honors in 2018. After leading her Blue Devils team to the Nebraska State Tournament four straight seasons, she accumulated career totals of 100 games played, 104 total hits, 87 runs driven in and nine home runs.
"Annie (Kniesche) brings with her a championship pedigree that will help her step right into the direction we are taking our Cougar softball team. She has led her team passionately and that is something we look for her to bring into our family," said Pivovar. "Her read of the ball, both off the bat and out of a pitchers hand, gives her softball skills that form a great baseline for us to grow. A very smart and dedicated student, Annie will fit right into our family and we cannot wait to get her and her family on board."
Shayla Running, IF, Roosevelt, S.D./Roosevelt HS
Running, the daughter of Matt and Tammy Running of Sioux Falls, helped lead her Roosevelt High School team to the South Dakota state high school championship for the second time in her career. A three-time all-state and two-time all-tournament team selection, Running finished her senior season with a .434 batting average and .632 slugging percentage.
"We are thrilled to have Shayla bring her championship experience to her hometown university as a member of the USF family," said Pivovar. "Shayla brings experience in pressure situations at a high level with both her Roosevelt high school team and Sioux Falls Steel travel teams that you just cannot teach. We are excited to get her into the purple and white and continue building on her quality softball foundation. A great student and athlete, there is nobody better to represent our program than Shayla and her family and we are excited for her to get started."
Located in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, the University of Sioux Falls is a member of NCAA Division II and competes in the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference.