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Friday, Apr. 18, 2014

Riley signs with Shawnee

Sunday, April 28, 2002

BENTON -- Kelly multi-sport standout Bridgett Riley signed a letter of intent to play softball for Shawnee Community College in Ullin, Ill., on Friday.

Riley will join former high school teammate Marissa Essner at the school and is expected to make an immediate impact.

"I think she's going to be a great addition to our pitching staff," said Shawnee coach Michelle Bradley. "She can hit, she can play the field, she's just a good all-around player. That's what we look for."

Riley was a four-year starter at Kelly, finishing with a 1.16 ERA in 139 innings pitched. She went 16-4 as a starter in the fall with a career batting average of .374 and a fielding percentage of .966.

She played an important role in the Lady Hawks winning three district titles with two trips to state.

"She was a leader for the team and took the Lady Hawks far," said Kelly softball coach Melanie Heuring. "She was an integral part of our team batting cleanup, playing first and pitching."

As a junior, Riley won the third place game at state in a pitcher's dual against Blair Oaks ace Kim Lecuru. Riley faced 22 batters, allowing just two hits with no walks and six strikeouts.

"She's got some good movement and she has good speed on the ball," said Heuring. "It's hard to get a lot of hits off her."

And Bradley expects her to be even more dominant on the mound at the next level.

"In high school, you're pitching 40 feet. In college, you're pitching from 43 feet," she explained. "Her ball is going to move even more than it is right now. I think she's got potential that she doesn't even realize she has. I think she will come in immediately and produce for us."

Shawnee has been ranked third in the upcoming Region 24 Division II tournament and has compiled a record of 22-9. Two members of the pitching staff will return next year to go along with Riley and another southpaw recruit.

"My goals are to work hard to do the best of my ability as a pitcher and an outfielder," said Riley. "I need to work on my hitting and pitch a lot more to get my arm built up."

Pitches in Riley's repertoire include a dropball, a riseball, a changeup, a fastball and a knuckleball.

She was second team all-state in 2000, first team all-region in 2001, and first team All-SEMO Conference and all-district in both 2000 and 2001.

After the fall softball season, Riley played a key role on Kelly's basketball team. She averaged 12 points, five rebounds and two steals per game at the forward position. "She was a good all-around player for us," said Kelly basketball coach Rod McQuerter. "There weren't a lot of girls in the area with her height. She also shot the ball well and defended well. Bridgett and the other seniors we had made our season very special. They surprised a lot of people this year."

The Lady Hawks were expected to struggle, but finished the season 23-4, losing to the Class 2A state champs in the district finals.

Riley is an honor roll student at Kelly and is also involved in Pep Club, Student Council, FCCLA, FBLA and Foreign Language Club.

She is the daughter of Jeff and Beverly Riley of Benton.