AUGUSTA, Ga. – GRU Augusta head softball coach Melissa Mullins recently announced her first group of student-athletes from the early signing period for the 2014 roster.
The five recruits are all in-state athletes including Julia Banks (Decatur HS), Ashley Benton (Oconee County HS), Brianna Dickens (Oconee County HS), and Mallory Ferguson (South Effingham HS).
"I'm excited about this 2013 signing class - all of these girls come from a tradition of winning," Mullins said. "I believe that will be a valuable asset as they join the Jaguars and as we look to continue to be a top contender in our region."
Julia Banks (R-R), DP/UT – Decatur, Ga., (Decatur HS)
Travel Club – East Cobb Bullets: Palazzo 18 Premier Gold
Banks, a four-year starter at South Effingham High School, is a first baseman and pitcher who made the all-region team for three consecutive years. She led her high school team in hitting for two straight years and owned a .440 career batting average, with 96 hits, 69 RBIs, 13 bombs, and started in 89 of her 90 games. On the mound her senior year, Banks went 8-10 with a 2.47 ERA and was named Best Female Athlete for Decatur, Ga.
She plays her travel ball with the East Cobb Bullets and plans on majoring in biology and attending medical school after college.
Ashley Benton (L-R), OF – Watkinsville, Ga., (Oconee County HS)
Travel Club – Georgia Outlaws
The outfielder from Oconee County HS, Benton helped her team to a 2010 and 2011 8-AAA Region Championship. She was an 8-AAA State Champion in 2011 and earned first team all-region honors. Her team voted her the Diamond Warrior in 2012, for the best on-field attitude.
She combined for 81 hits her junior and senior year and stole 12 bases on 13 attempts. Her senior season she posted a .370 batting average, a team-high amongst starting players.
She was a National Beta Club member and on the principal's honor roll for all four years of high school. Her senior year she reached the top-five percent for her class and was inducted into the National Honor Society.
She plays her travel ball with the Georgia Outlaws and won a USFA (United States Fastpitch Association) World Series Championship in 2012.
Brianna Dickens (R-R), SS – Watkinsville, Ga., (Oconee County HS)
Travel Club – Georgia Outlaws
Dickens played alongside Benton at Oconee HS as a top threat at shortstop. A four-year starter, Dickens had a big senior year, earning first team all-region honors and winning the USFA World Series with her travel club, the Georgia Outlaws. Her senior year she hit .336, with 20 hits and a team-high 26 RBIs.
Her high school team won the 8-AAA State Championship and Region Championship in 2011 after winning the region championship the year before. Dickens received first team all-state and all-region honors for her 2011 efforts and the Athens Banner-Herald named her to the Northeast Georgia first team in 2011.
Dickens was also a four-year started for the Oconee County women's basketball team and earned first team all-Region accolades to suit her offensive award for the 2011-2012 season.
She was a member of the National Beta Club for all four years and was an honor roll student as well.
Mallory Ferguson (L-R), C – Guyton, Ga., (South Effingham HS)
Travel Club – South Georgia Lady Sharks
Ferguson lettered in all four-years of softball and became the South Effingham Lady Mustangs' starting catcher as a sophomore, being named to the Class AAAA All-State honorable mention team that same season. In 2010, Ferguson was named best defensive player, and earned class AAAA All-State second team, after hitting .388 with 27 RBIs.
In 2011 and 2012 Ferguson was named first team all-state and all-region, after earning the highest batting average for her team in both years. Ferguson hit .354 with 35 hits, three homers and batted in 25 runs in 2012. She ended her career with a .386 average and 97 RBIs.
She plays her travel ball with the South Georgia Lady Sharks, who qualified for the ASA (Amateur Softball Association) Nationals in 2011 and finished 48th overall.