Fifth year Central Connecticut softball head coach Breanne Gleason announced the newest class for the 2019 season after signing six high school standouts.
Of the six newcomers, three are New Jersey products, two are Connecticut locals, and one is an Empire State native.
Carli Backlund – Infielder | Yardville, NJ | Steinert
Backlund, a team captain of the Steinert High School softball team under head coach Jean Ruppert led the Spartans to the 2016 Group Three State Championship. "Despite her natural gifts she is one of the hardest working players I have; and one that I can count on to keep the team on track," said Ruppert. Backlund was named Rookie of the Year in 2015, 2016 All CVC Second Team, 2017 Offensive Player of the Year, 2017 All CVC First Team and 2017 All Area First Team. As a junior, Backlund hit .532 with three homeruns. Backlund is also a three-year varsity basketball player. The New Jersey product plays on the Witches 18U Gold team.
Gleason on Backlund, "Carli is the kind of infielder that is really fun to watch. Her athleticism, combined with her game instincts makes her a natural shortstop and she will be a great addition to our infield."
Alyssa Contreras – Outfielder | North Brunswick, NJ | North Brunswick Township
Contreras is the starting centerfielder for North Brunswick High School and head coach Sarah Dillard averaged a .385 hitting percentage as a junior with five homeruns. Contreras ran track as a freshman and sophomore where she was a 100M state finalist in 2015. The 2019 signee ranked Top 10 GMC sprinter in 2016 and qualified twice for New Balance Nationals. Contreras plays for the Jersey Outlaws Gold under head coach John Rooney.
Gleason on Contreras, "Alyssa will bring a great deal of speed, range and talent to our outfield. She has the ability to track down balls in the gaps that should be doubles, I think our pitching staff is going to enjoy having her roaming the outfield!"
Rian Eignenmann – Catcher/Utility | Millville, NJ | Millville
Eigenmann, a Rookie of the Year, Best Defensive selection, and Team MVP plays for Millville Senior High School under Head Coach Brooke Dixon. The team captain slugged .647 in 2017 and is a two-time First Team All-South Jersey and Carpenter Cup Selection. Eigenmann earned First Team All-Conference honors as a catcher and Daily Journal's Player of the Year, and hit .472 with 50 hits as a junior. The Garden State athlete plays for the South Jersey Wildcats Gold under MaryAnn Busan and Seann Linus. The Wildcats' Bruce Frazer, "In my 28 years of coaching ASA quality softball, Rian has it all. She is a great catcher with a tremendous arm, top notch speed, and a batting average well into the .400s…and most of all a desire to win."
Gleason on the Millville, NJ native, "A true athlete that will make an impact wherever we put her. She spends most of her time behind the plate, but we believe her speed and arm make her a threat anywhere on the field."
Kari Marks – Pitcher | Granby, CT | Granby Memorial
Marks, sister of former Blue Devil Julie Marks (2010-14), plays at Granby Memorial High School for Head Coach Brian McDermott. Marks helped the Bears 21-4 record in 2017, averaging 13 strikeouts per contest. A two-time All-Conference Pitcher and two-time All-State selection, Marks was also named team MVP as a sophomore and junior. The Nutmeg state product plays for Mirage Gold, managed by her father, Eddie.
Gleason on Marks, "We are excited to add Connecticut native Kari Marks to our pitching staff. Kari brings a ton to the table, and I can't wait to get to work with her in the bullpen! It will be great to have another Marks on the mound for CCSU!"
Alexa Milius – Catcher/Infielder | Thomaston, CT | Thomaston
Milius, a team captain at Thomaston High School for head coach, Kelly Finlay, appeared in Connecticut State Final in 2015. Milius is a three-time All-Berkshire League selection and was named All-State as a junior. Milius is a career .678 hitter and also plays field hockey (two-time All-State and All-Berkshire League) and basketball at Thomaston High School. The Central newcomer plays for Seahawks Gold under Paul Crisci.
Crisci noted, "The beauty of having a player like Alexa Milius in a program is that she is blessed with a rare blend of outstanding personality, sportsmanship, leadership and intelligence that is all wrapped in a body and mind of extraordinary athletic talent."
Gleason on Milius, ""Alexa is the kind of catcher that reminds you of a quarterback behind the dish. I love watching her catch because she has command of her infield and keeps her team in every out. Similar to the rest of her classmates she is very athletic and will see time all over the field."
Carley Stoker – Pitcher/Infielder | Lacona, NY | Sandy Creek
Stoker, a two-year team captain at Sandy Creek High School for coach Katie Soluri, was a three-time All-North MVP and the 2017 CNY Player of the Year. As a pitcher, she earned a 17-2 record in 2017 with 225 strikeouts. Stoker not only was successful in the circle, but also at the plate hitting a stifling .635 with 13 home runs and 41 RBIs. "Carley Stoker is an outstanding all-around player whose natural talents have been amplified by her intense motivation and drive to succeed. Her athleticism paired with her love of the game makes her a very fun player to watch and an absolute joy to coach," said Soluri. Stoker plays for the Upstate New York Revolution for Coach Mike Scialo.
Gleason on Stoker, "Carley is a true throwback player. She can do it all. She brings a great deal of athleticism and heart to our program. Whether she is in the infield, at the plate or on the mound this kid always brings it!"
The 2018 Central Connecticut softball team opens up play on Friday, March 2 at the Woo Pig Classic in Fayetteville, AK at the University of Arkansas.