Softball inks three in early signing period

Michael Hawkins, Associate Athletic Director for Media Relations and Marketing

Francis Marion University softball coach Stacey Vallee announced the signing of three players during the early signing period: middle infielder Payton York of Olin, N.C., middle infielder Shelby Cox of Galivants Ferry, S.C., and utility player Chelsea Welty of St. Helena, S.C.

York is a four-year starter at North Iredell High School, where she has played for coach Lauren Gaither.  Hannah Pennell will be her coach this upcoming spring. During her junior season, York posted a .400 batting average and a .977 fielding percentage. She is a two-time defensive award winner, three-time All-County selection, two-time All-Conference and All-District selection, and was named to the 2013 All-State Team. She is also a three-time Scholar Athlete honoree.

“Payton is a consistent line-drive hitter,” said Vallee. “We trust that she will be able to get on base for us. Payton will probably start in the outfield. She is a great kid and has a true willingness to work hard.”

Cox plays at Aynor High School for coaches Sandi Jones and Pedy Roberts. In her most recent campaign, Cox recorded a .531 batting average, scored 35 runs, stole 17 bases, and registered a .641 on-base percentage. As a junior, she was honored for her offensive production and was selected as an All-Region performer. During her sophomore campaign, she drove in 37 runs and recorded a .390 batting average.

“Shelby has played high-quality opponents in travel ball,” Vallee added. “She is very versatile, can play middle infield or outfield, and has hit the ball really well against Division 1 level pitchers.”

Welty played at Beaufort High School for Brian Rast and earlier at Latta High School for Michael Rogers. She is a two-time high school MVP, a two-time All-State pick, a three-time All-Region choice, an All-Region MVP and an All-State Rookie honoree. Welty also earned the 2012 Eagle Award. During her junior campaign, Welty hit .496 with 13 home runs.

“Chelsea is very strong and has tons of power,” Vallee said. “In her first at-bat during workouts, she hit one out of the park. She’ll be a utility player for us. Chelsea is also a tremendous student.”

The 2014 Patriots finished with 23 victories. FMU will open the 2015 campaign on Feb. 1, when they play host to the University of Mount Olive for a doubleheader.