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Softball team signs three for 2013

November 28, 2011
Lindsay Chouniard

Lindsay Chouniard

Northern Illinois University softball head coach Lindsay Chouinard announced the signing of three softball players for the 2013 team.

Chouniard signed California natives Maleena Esparza and Susana Gurney from Fullerton, Calif. and Anaheim, Calif., respectively, and Emily Woller of Kenosha, Wis.

Esparza has led La Habra High School to three straight league championships and batted .554 in 2011 to lead her team to a 23-7 record, advancing to the CIF quarterfinals.

Esparza, a four-year varsity letter winner, was named league MVP, team MVP, All-Freeway League MVP, and All-Area player of the year her junior year. She was also named to the All-Orange County and All-CIF first teams.

“Maleena is calm, cool and consistent,” Chouinard said. “As a middle infielder she brings the perfect energy to the field, allowing her teammates to play comfortably around her. From the plate she can hit for power, average and when her team needs her the most, in the clutch.”

Gurney, a pitcher, has played for the ASA since 2005 and is a four-year varsity letter winner at Pacifica High School. She has led Pacifica to three straight league championships and a 24-3 team record in 2011.

In 2009, Gurney pitched in all eight games in three days at the So Cal National Qualifier, helping her team to an eighth place finish.

“Suzanna has the drive and tenaciousness to excel as a Huskie,” she said. “Not only does she want to be great in the circle, she will do anything she can to help the team be great. The skill set she brings to the table is going to truly enhance this softball program.”

Esparza and Gurney were also members of Gold Pure Fastpitch in Huntington Beach, Calif. this past summer.

Woller, a member of the Kenosha Cyclones from 2005-09 and the Illinois Chill from 2009-11, helped guide Temper High School to a 2011 Regional Championship. She has been named all conference honorable mention three times heading into her senior season and is a team captain for Temper.

Woller has a .364 career batting average at Temper with seven home runs and 59 RBIs. Woller primarily catches behind the plate, but also plays infield and outfield.

“Emily is the person every teammate and coach wants on their team,” Chouinard said. “She sets the tempo with her strong work ethic and brings people together with her positive outlook. There aren’t many players who can work themselves to exhaustion and keep a smile on their face. Emily is one of those special people.”

For more information on NIU softball and Huskie athletics, visit