Lincoln - A pair of talented recruits from Southern California signed national letters of intent to join the Nebraska softball program for the 2013-14 season, Head Coach Rhonda Revelle announced on Thursday, Nov. 15.
The newest Huskers are Marjani Knighten, an infielder from Buena Park, Calif., and Austen Urness, a catcher/outfielder from Lake Elsinore, Calif. Both players are members of the Corona Angels travel team and are among eight members of that organization to sign with a Big Ten, Big 12 or Pac-12 school this fall. Knighten and Urness will join former Corona Angels Tatum and Taylor Edwards, Emily Lockman and Dawna Tyson on next year's Nebraska roster.
Revelle is excited to add both players to the program.
"The duo is athletic, powerful, passionate about the game and they know how to win," Revelle said. "MJ and Austen are outstanding additions to our Nebraska team, and it feels great to make them 'official' Huskers today."
2012 Nebraska Softball Signing Class
- Marjani Knighten, INF, Buena Park, Calif. (Sunny Hills HS/Corona Angels)
- Austen Urness, C/OF, Lake Elsinore, Calif. (Lakeside HS/Corona Angels)
Marjani Knighten, INF, Buena Park, Calif. (Sunny Hills HS/Corona Angels)
One of the top recruits in Southern California, Marjani Knighten has been a star infielder for Sunny Hills High School in Fullerton, Calif. Named one of Orange County's top 25 players, Knighten is a three-time all-league selection, a two-time all-county honoree, and she has been named the Lancers' player of the year in each of the last two seasons.
Heading into her senior season this spring, Knighten owns a .446 (116-for-260) career batting average with 18 doubles, six triples, 19 home runs, 51 RBIs and 81 runs scored. She also boasts a .781 career slugging percentage.
As a junior last spring, Knighten batted .512 (44-for-86) with nine doubles, three triples, 11 home runs, 22 RBIs and 31 runs scored for a Sunny Hills team that finished 15-10. She led the Lancers in nearly every offensive category, including slugging percentage (1.070) and on-base percentage (.553). She went 5-for-5 with three home runs, one double and four RBIs in a 16-1 victory over Fullerton on May 8, earning her a nod as the weekly ESPN HS/Cal-Hi Sports Softball State Stat Star. Following her junior season, Knighten was chosen as the best player in the Freeway League by the Orange County Register, in addition to earning first-team All-CIF Southern Section honors and second-team All-Orange County honors. She was a first-team all-league selection and Sunny Hills' player of the year, in addition to being recognized as one of Orange County's 25 best players.
In her sophomore season, Knighten hit a team-best .494 (43-for-87) with four doubles, two triples, three home runs, 15 RBIs and 29 runs scored. She also posted team-best totals of a .690 slugging percentage and a .531 on-base percentage. For her efforts, Knighten was a third-team All-Orange County selection, and she repeated as a first-team all-league pick. Knighten was also chosen as Sunny Hills' player of the year.
Knighten burst onto the scene as a freshman in 2010, when she was named a top softball underclassmen and one of the 10 best freshmen by the Orange County Register. Sunny Hills' rookie of the year and a first-team all-league selection, Knighten batted .333 (29-for-87) with team-high totals of five doubles, five home runs, one triple, 21 runs scored and a .586 slugging percentage. She also ranked second on the team with a .389 on-base percentage and was third with 14 RBIs.
In club ball, Knighten has enjoyed an outstanding career for the Corona Angels. The sixth Angel to sign with Nebraska over the past five years, Knighten also attended the same high school as former Husker Julie Brechtel, who played at Nebraska from 2008 to 2011. Knighten won a 12-and-under national championship with the Angels in 2008, while finishing second at the 2010 14-and-under ASA National Championship. Individually, Knighten earned a prestigious invite and attended the OnDeck National Elite Futures Camp in both 2009 and 2010.
Coach Revelle on Marjani: "MJ is a pure athlete who is strong, fast and has a great competitive motor and instincts. We cannot wait to get her on the field and in the uniform and watch her work her talent. We were excited the day MJ called to say she wanted to come to Nebraska, and we are even more thrilled today to announce to Husker Nation that MJ is a Husker that you will want to keep your eyes on."
Austen Urness, C/OF, Lake Elsinore, Calif. (Lakeside HS/Corona Angels)
Urness has been a standout player for Lakeside High School in Lake Elsinore, Calif., in each of her first three seasons. She is a three-time, first-team all-league selection and has twice earned a spot on the All-CIF Southern Section first team.
Through her first three seasons, Urness has put up impressive numbers. She enters her senior season with a career .441 batting average (104-for-236), 27 doubles, six triples, 21 home runs, 88 RBIs and 75 runs scored. Urness owns an .873 career slugging percentage, and she boasts a career on-base percentage near .500.
As a junior last spring, Urness helped Lakeside to a 15-10 record. She batted .437 (31-for-71) on the year with seven doubles, two triples, seven home runs, 25 RBIs and 22 runs scored. Urness tied for the team lead in triples and ranked second in slugging percentage (.887), home runs, hits and RBIs. She added 11 walks against only three strikeouts while posting a .518 on-base percentage. Following her junior season, Urness was named a first-team all-valley and all-league selection for the third straight year, while earning All-Inland Valley honorable-mention honors from the Riverside Press-Enterprise.
Lakeside finished 19-7 and won its second straight Sunbelt League championship during Urness' sophomore campaign in 2011. She helped the Lancers to the title by hitting .443 (35-for-79) with nine doubles, nine home runs, one triple, 32 RBIs and 27 runs scored. Her nine home runs accounted for half of Lakeside's team total (18), helping her post a team-leading .924 slugging percentage. Urness repeated as a first-team All-CIF Southern Section honoree in 2011, while also earning repeat accolades as a first-team all-valley and all-league selection. She was tabbed as the Sunbelt League MVP and was Lakeside's team MVP and the school's sophomore female athlete of the year. Urness also earned her second straight all-area honorable-mention honor as a sophomore.
As a freshman in 2010, Urness helped lead the Lancers to a 23-3 record, including a perfect 15-0 Sunbelt League record. Despite her freshman status, Urness batted .442 (38-for-86) with 11 doubles, three triples, five home runs, 31 RBIs and 26 runs scored. She led Lakeside in hits, doubles, home runs, RBIs and runs scored, while also posting a team-best .814 slugging percentage. For her efforts, Urness was a first-team All-CIF Southern Section selection, in addition to earning first-team all-league and all-valley honors. She was also named Lakeside High School's Freshman Female Athlete of the Year, while earning all-area honorable-mention accolades.
In club ball, Urness has enjoyed an outstanding career for the Corona Angels. The sixth Angel to sign with Nebraska over the past five years, Urness has finished in the top three in four national championship tournaments during her career. She posted a third-place finish at the 2007 12-and-under ASA National Championship, then moved up to finish third at the 14-and-under championship the following season. The Angels finished second at the 2008 14-and-under championship in 2009 and were second at the 2010 16-and-under Premier Girls Fastpitch National Championship.
Coach Revelle on Austen: "Austen is an explosive athlete who hits for power and average. Austen is also a leader who has a positive impact on her teammates, both physically and emotionally. Austen has thought about being a Husker for a very long time as her parents lived in Nebraska for a few years when she was younger, so we think it is a natural and perfect fir for Austen to join the Husker family and don the scarlet and cream."