12/16/08 — MOC softball signs three

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MOC softball signs three

By MOC Sports Information
Published in Sports on December 16, 2008 1:46 PM

MOC Sports Information

MOUNT OLIVE -- Mount Olive has signed three North Carolina recruits to softball national letters-of-intent, according to head softball coach Jaime Kylis-Higginbotham.

Joining the Trojans in 2010 will be Southern Wayne standout Lauren Darden, Rebekah Daniel and Olivia Poplin.

Darden, who hails from Mount Olive, posted a 19-6 record with a 1.02 earned run average for the Saints last season. She recorded 251 strikeouts in 166 2/3 innings, an average of 10.5 strikeouts per seven innings pitched.

A two-time All-State selection, Darden was the District 2 Class 3-A pitcher of the year and the News-Argus All-Area Pitcher of the Year each of the past two seasons.

"Lauren has been our number one pitching recruit since her last game of her junior year," said Kylis-Higginbotham. "I feel that she'll continue to give Mount Olive softball that 'dominating presence' on the mound that we've enjoyed the last few years. Her work ethic is indescribable and she strives to get better every day."

McDaniel, a catcher from Jacksonville, earned All-Mideastern Conference and all-area honors last year at White Oak. She's a team captain and was her squad's Offensive Player of the Year in 2008. She plays travel ball for the Carolina Diamonds in Greenville.

Kylis-Higginbotham says McDaniel could also see time at third base and in the outfield.

"Rebekah will bring not only a dominating presence behind the plate, but she is a very versatile player and can play multiple positions," said Kylis-Higginbotham. "She also has tremendous offensive power and we look forward to having her in our lineup".

Poplin, an infielder from High Point, is a two-time All-Conference selection from Thomasville Ledford. She was also selected to play in the 2008 State Games this past summer. She plays travel ball for the Randolph Rage and previously played for the Lady Blues of Charlotte.

Kylis-Higginbotham says Poplin has the talent to play at the Division I level.

"I had the pleasure of working with Olivia during a camp this summer and I was just so impressed with her work ethic and overall versatility," said Kylis-Higginbotham. "I was sure she would go Division I, so when she called to express her interest in Mount Olive, I knew that she could help take us to the next level."

Kylis-Higginbotham is excited about signing the three players, both for their on-field and off-field qualities.

"With the addition of these three young ladies, not only does this show that our talent level gets better every year, but that we are consistently bringing in young ladies with good family values, high morals and strong character, as well as a high level of work ethic in the classroom," said Kylis-Higginbotham. "We are extremely excited to have them join our MOC Softball Family."

Mount Olive posted a 29-21 record last year and was runner-up in the 2008 Conference Carolinas Tournament after finishing third regular-season play. The Trojans have compiled 68 wins in the past two seasons, a school record for a two-year win total.

Mount Olive opens the 2009 season Feb. 14 at in-state rival Catawba. The Trojans' home opener is Feb. 20 against Division II national power Shippensburg (Pa.) University.