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STARKVILLE, Miss. – Laying the foundation for years to come, Mississippi State softball head coach Vann Stuedeman announced the signing of four players who will don the Maroon and White starting in 2012-13. Celina Felix and Loryn Nichols will arrive in Starkville from softball-rich California, while Jacey Punches and Kayla Winkfield will enter the Southeastern Conference from talent-filled Texas.
“I could not have been happier with the way my first recruiting class turned out,” Stuedeman said. “Not only are we bringing in four great athletes who will lay the foundation of Bulldog softball for years to come, but we’re also bringing in four quality individuals who, over time, will truly define what it is to wear a Bulldog uniform.” Stuedeman will make her head coaching debut alongside the 2011-12 squad on Thursday, Feb. 9, as the Bulldogs travel to Mobile, Ala., to take on South Alabama at 6 p.m. CT. Eight days later, MSU opens the home slate on Friday, Feb. 17, as the Maroon and White host SIU-Edwardsville at 5 p.m. CT in the opening game of the annual Bulldog Round-Robin. Fans are encouraged to follow the team via Facebook.com/MStateSB and Twitter.com/MStateSB for more information regarding the spring schedule. Celina Felix Montclair, Calif. (Montclair/California Lite) Position: Shortstop/Second Base Bats: Right Throws: Right High School/Club Highlights: Entering senior season Montclair High School under head coach Gilbert Diaz…Starter on the California Lite travel team coached by Pam Newton, where she plays shortstop and second base…Won the MHS Best Offensive Player Award…Was named 2010 Mt. Baldy First-Team All-League. Personal Highlights: Born Celina Patrice Felix on May 14, 1994. Felix on Stuedeman: “I want to play for Coach Stuedeman because I love the game. The discipline, teamwork, and leadership skills learned from playing for her will help me reach my educational goals. I want to be a proud representative of Mississippi State University and a positive role model for my siblings.” Loryn Nichols Murrieta, Ca. (Murrieta Valley/Orange County Batbusters) Position: Center Field Bats: Left Throws: Right High School/Club Highlights: Entering senior season at Murrieta Valley High School…During her sophomore and junior campaigns at Calvary Chapel Christian School under head coach Celeste Ducharme, broke the school records for batting average (.551), stolen bases (32) and runs (39) in a season…Led team to a 12-2 record her junior season, hitting .494 with 44 hits, 34 runs, 16 RBI, one home run, 32 stolen bases and a .563 on-base percentage…Captured a perfect 8-0 record her sophomore campaign, hitting .551 with 43 hits, 39 runs, eight RBI, 31 stolen bases and an on-base percentage of .598…Notched 79 putouts and 12 assists as a center fielder her junior season…Named First-Team All-League her sophomore and junior year, along with being named Offensive Player of the Year…Named to the Diamond Classic All-Tournament Team her junior season…Received the All-American National Christian School Athletic Association Award her junior year…With her travel ball team, finished second in the 2011 Independence Tournament in Colorado and fifth in the 2011 Premier Tournament in Huntington Beach, Calif. Personal Highlights: Born Loryn Kaitlin Nichols on May 9, 1994, in Pasadena, Calif….The daughter of Noah and Tracie Nichols…Senior at Murrieta Valley High School in Murrieta, Calif….Plans to major in kinesiology with a minor in education at Mississippi State…Chose MSU over UCLA. Nichols on Stuedeman: “I’m very excited to play for Coach Steudeman. She and her coaching staff was one of the main reasons I chose MSU over my other offers. She made me feel so at home, which is so important to me since I will be so far away from home. Her positive attitude and enthusiasm really stood out from all the other coaches. I loved, too, how she had goals for the team coming up on the 20th year of Bulldog softball. I can’t wait to play for her.” Jacey Punches Round Rock, Texas (Stony Point/Platinum) Position: Pitcher Throws: Right High School/Club Highlights: Entering senior season at Stony Point High School under head coach Christen Jonse…Plays on the Platinum 16U & 18U Gold squad for head coach Kelsey Sage…Notched a 1.18 ERA and struck out 211 batters over 163 innings her junior season…Named District 16-5A Pitcher of the Year and Team MVP, as well as an All-Centex Second Team pitcher…Honorable mention Texas All-State pitcher, District 16-5A Pitcher of the Year and Team MVP her sophomore season, where she had a 0.81 ERA and fanned 276 batters over 173 innings pitched…Also named to the All-Central Texas and All-Centrex Second Team…Participated in the 2010 ESPN Rise Premier National Softball Championships in Huntingon Beach, Calif….Took second place in the Premier Girls 16U Fastpitch Qualifier…Played the first part of her sophomore season for Bartlesville High School in Oklahoma, earning All-Centennial Conference MVP honors, Defensive Player of the Year and Tulsa World Athlete of the Week…Finished her season in Oklahoma with 187 strikeouts in 138 innings, along with a 1.14 ERA…Struck out a school-record 25 batters in the regional championship…Also named MVP of the regional tournament en route to capturing the conference and regional championship…Named to the All-State Metro Second Team…Was a Class 6A semifinalist…Led all 6A pitchers in total strikeouts (351)…Named Academic All-Conference freshman at Bartlesville…Started in the circle as a freshman on her varsity squad in 2008-09, owning a 0.84 ERA, while striking out 381 batters over 250 innings…Earned First-Team All-Centennial Conference honors and was named Defensive Player of the Year…Was named MVP in the regional tournament…Finished second in the 2009 AFA and USFA 16U National Tournament…Played for the Tulsa Elite 18U Gold squad in 2009, after playing for the OK Energizers (2008-09, 18U Gold), OK Strikers (2005-09, 14U & 16U) and OK Select (2004-08, 12U & 14U). Personal Highlights: Born Jacey Noelle Punches on Dec. 5, 1993, in Tulsa, Okla. The daughter of Solid and Kristi Punches…Has one sibling, Jordan (19)…Senior at Stony Point High School in Round Rock, Texas…Plans to major in pre-dental and minor in finance at Mississippi State…Chose MSU over LSU, Ole Miss, and several other division one schools. Punches on Stuedeman: “She’s an amazing person who is so nice and wants nothing but the best for her team. I have no doubt she’ll make me better and help me reach my full potential. She can take her team to the top!” Kayla Winkfield Giddings, Texas (Giddings/Texas Hawks) Position: Utility Bats: Left Throws: Right High School/Club Highlights: Entering senior season at Giddings High School under head coach Celeste Arriaga, where she is considered one of the best defensive players in the state of Texas…A triple-sport athlete in softball, basketball and track & field…Earned all-state and all-district honors in softball and basketball her sophomore and junior seasons, while also earning all-district honors her freshman year in softball…Earned Golden Glove Award as a freshman and Texas Outstanding Outfielder Award as a sophomore…Went to Texas State Championships in track & field her first three years of high school…Finished third in the 100-yard dash and sixth in the triple jump as a junior…Part of the winning 4x100 and 4x200 relays at the Texas Relays as a freshman… Personal Highlights: Born Kayla Camille Winkfield on April 14, 1994, in Austin, Texas…The daughter of William and Patricia Winkfield…Senior at Giddings High School in Giddings, Texas, where she sports a top-20 3.75 GPA…Plans to major in kinesiology and minor in psychology at MSU. Winkfield on Stuedeman: “She’s a very energetic person who made me feel like I could really be a part of the Mississippi State softball family. She’s a great coach and an even better person.”