published Thursday, April 17th, 2014

Willard, Dagnan pick Belmont, Lee and other sports news

Chattanooga State's No. 1 softball battery was charged up Wednesday, as pitcher Shelby Willard signed scholarship papers for Belmont University in Nashville while catcher Emily Dagnan sat beside her and signed papers for Lee University in Cleveland. Both want to go into nursing and praised their respective NCAA schools' nursing programs. Willard, a 5-foot-8 right-hander from Central High School, is 19-0 this season for the nationally fifth-ranked Lady Tigers (43-5), with a 2.53 earned run average and 125 strikeouts in 116 innings, and she was just named the NJCAA Division I national pitcher of the week. "Shelby had a slow start her freshman year, and there was a lot she had to learn, but she really worked hard and developed a couple of pitches, her changeup and curve, to go with her screwball and riseball," Chattanooga State coach Blythe Golden said. "Belmont was looking for a pitcher who could start right away and be a leader, and Shelby can give them that. She's a competitor." Dagnan, a 5-5 former Sequatchie County standout who also boxes internationally, is batting .357 with nine home runs and 33 RBIs this season after catching every game for the Lady Tigers last year. "She's just been solid, extremely dependable," said Golden, a former catcher. "And not just in games but in every bullpen. A catcher can make or break a team, and Emily is a great leader for us behind the plate." Dagnan said, "Coach Golden has made me 10 times better than before." Willard said she likes Belmont's coaches, "and it's semi-close to home, it's a competitive program and a very pretty school. And it's a good school to get a degree from."

Baseball

• Cameron Brewster and Andres Nelo each homered and drove in three runs as the Lee University baseball team won 8-4 Wednesday night against visiting Bryan College. Brewster was 2-for-3 and matched Siosi Poti with two runs for the Flames (26-17), while Crandon Wallace tripled, singled and scored twice for Bryan (26-20). The teams used 14 pitchers.

• Despite a grand slam by Cody Heifnar, Tennessee Wesleyan lost 7-6 to Cumberland University in an NAIA baseball battle of Bulldogs on Wednesday in Lebanon, Tenn. Cumberland (30-16) led 7-2 before Heifnar's sixth-inning blast, and TWC (24-19) loaded the bases again in the ninth before succumbing. Matt Malloy had two RBIs for Wesleyan, and Logan Dalton and Heifnar each was 2-for-4.

Lacrosse

• Raygan Hall, a Girls Preparatory School student from Cleveland, signed scholarship papers Wednesday to play NCAA Division I lacrosse for Gardner-Webb University in Boiling Springs, N.C. A goalie, she played for Team Tennessee 2013 in addition to the Bruisers. "Raygan's decision to play lacrosse at GPS has been very rewarding for us as a program but also for her individually," Bruisers coach Caroline Carlin said. "Shortly after Raygan began playing lacrosse, she knew that this was something she was passionate about and something that she wanted to pursue in college. Since then she has attended recruiting tournaments and worked outside of practice to make this dream a reality." Hall said she visited "nine or 10 schools" and narrowed her choices to Longwood and Liberty in Virginia and Centre in Kentucky before visiting GWU, "but when I visited there I just loved the campus. The main reason I picked Gardner-Webb, though, was because of Coach [Jacquelyn] Duggins. I'm really, really excited to have her as my coach."

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