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Early signing period sees many locals commit

By Daily Pilot, 11/09/17, 9:45AM PST


College commitments made by high school student-athletes have become so publicized that the actual shock value of signing day has gone down considerably.

If the wait for high-profile student-athletes used to be to reveal the school that they planned to play for in college, it is now simply a matter of counting down the days to sign on the dotted line.

Corona del Mar center fielder Preston Hartsell verbally committed to play baseball for USC as a freshman. He made the decision official on Wednesday, putting pen to paper to join the Trojans.

Hartsell was one of more than three dozen local seniors signing their national letter of intent on the first day of the early signing period for college sports outside of football, men’s and women’s soccer, and men’s water polo.

Hartsell hit .427 with six home runs, six doubles, three triples and 22 runs batted in during his junior season. He also won the Perfect Game All-American Classic home run derby, which was held at spacious Petco Park in San Diego in August.

Of the 42 local athletes to sign on Wednesday, five chose USC. Four of the Trojans-to-be were from CdM, including outside hitter Brandon Browning for men’s volleyball, setter Ashley Humphreys for women’s volleyball and goalie Erin Tharp for women’s water polo.

Sophia Lucas, an attacker for the Laguna Beach girls’ water polo team, also signed with USC.

Newport Harbor outside hitter Cole Pender signs his national letter of intent with the UCLA men's volleyball program on Wednesday. (Courtesy of Ann Pender)
UCLA also signed five athletes from the area, including three boys’ volleyball players, Battle of the Bay rivals Cole Pender (Newport Harbor) and Kevin Kobrine (CdM), and Laguna Beach’s Sam Bergi.

Stanford signed two local girls’ water polo players in Thea Walsh, who helped Laguna Beach complete an undefeated season with her elite play guarding the cage, and CdM’s Chloe Harbilas.

There were several instances of teammates opting to continue playing together in college. Newport Harbor’s Melissa Bradford, Delaney Gendron and Peyton Matthews all signed on with the SMU women’s rowing program.

In girls’ volleyball, Huntington Beach outside hitters Maggie Baker and Bailey Nelson will both continue their playing careers at Jacksonville State, while opposite Jillian Kim signed with Sacred Heart University.

By the numbers, CdM had the most student-athletes participate in the early signing period among local schools with 13. Nine signed from Newport Harbor, eight from Huntington Beach, seven from Laguna Beach, three from Edison, and one each from Ocean View and Sage Hill.

Ocean View’s Penelope Russ signed on to play catcher at Rutgers.

Jade Blevins, a setter for the Sage Hill girls’ volleyball team, signed with the University of Portland, as did Josh Phillips, a center for the Edison basketball team.

Corona del Mar's Chloe Harbilas is bound for Stanford to play women's water polo. (File Photo)
Below is the list of local athletes who signed on Wednesday:

Corona del Mar

Brandon Browning, USC men’s volleyball

Chloe Harbilas, Stanford women’s water polo

Preston Hartsell, USC baseball

Ashley Humphreys, USC women’s volleyball

Kevin Kobrine, UCLA men’s volleyball

Chazz Martinez, UC Santa Barbara baseball

Alexandra Moeller, Gonzaga women’s rowing

Nikolett Provenza, University of Alabama women’s rowing

Emery Rolfes, UCLA men’s rowing

Alex Rosen, Georgetown baseball

J.T. Schwartz, UCLA baseball

Riley Sidebotham, San Diego State women’s water polo

Erin Tharp, USC women’s water polo

Newport Harbor

Melissa Bradford, SMU women’s rowing

Delaney Gendron, SMU women’s rowing

Nick Halphide, UC Santa Barbara men’s swimming

Jessica Lynch, UC Irvine women’s water polo

Peyton Matthews, SMU women’s rowing

Cole Pender, UCLA men’s volleyball

Adena Rothbard, University of New Hampshire women’s lacrosse

Dinny Stevens, Army women’s swimming

Ethan Talley, Ohio State men’s volleyball

Huntington Beach's Allee Bunker will join the University of Oregon softball team next year. (File Photo)
Huntington Beach

Maggie Baker, Jacksonville State University women’s volleyball

Maddie Bockman, UC San Diego women’s water polo

Allee Bunker, Oregon softball

Jillian Kim, Sacred Heart University women’s volleyball

Nick Lopez, Abilene Christian University baseball

Nate Madole, Loyola Marymount University baseball

Dylin Myers, Weber State women’s golf

Bailey Nelson, Jacksonville State University women’s volleyball

Laguna Beach goalie Thea Walsh is heading to Stanford to play for the women's water polo program. (File Photo)
Laguna Beach

Sam Bergi, UCLA men’s volleyball

Danielle Borelli, McKendree University women’s water polo

Sophia Lucas, USC women’s water polo

Lexi McKeown, Florida State women’s sand volleyball

Jessica Morrell, UC San Diego women’s rowing

Thea Walsh, Stanford women’s water polo

Kyla Whitelock, Fresno State women’s water polo


Connor Aoki, Binghamton University baseball

Chase Hanson, UNLV baseball

Josh Phillips, University of Portland men’s basketball

Ocean View

Penelope Russ, Rutgers softball

Sage Hill volleyball player Jade Blevins signs her national letter of intent with the University of Portland on Wednesday. (Courtesy of Megan Cid)
Sage Hill

Jade Blevins, University of Portland women’s volleyball