Cristal Brown

Newly hired ISU softball coach Cristal Brown, center, chats after her introductory press conference Monday at the Pond Student Union Building on Idaho State University’s campus.

The Idaho State softball team has announced the signing of five players for the 2021-22 season.

Piper Tago hails from Laguna Hills, California, where she will graduate from Dana Hills High School in 2021. The 5’6 infielder was named Rookie of the Year in 2018 and Offensive Player of the Year in 2019. At the plate, she averaged .320 while recording a .394 on base percentage. Her older sister, Frankie, also plays for the Idaho State softball program.

“We are excited to have another member of the Tago family knowing the character that comes along with that,” said Head Coach Cristal Brown. “Piper will provide power, quick hands at third base, and fierce competition.”

Haley Rainey will join the Bengals from her hometown of Chehalis, Washington. The 5-foot-10 pitcher will graduate from Adna High School where, during her freshman and sophomore years, Rainey earned first-team All-League honors. During her sophomore year, she was also named Lewis County Athlete of the Year for softball. Her sophomore and junior years, she earned first team All-State and would go on to be named a Top 15 Pitcher in Washington State by Scorebook Live WA.

“Haley is an elite level pitcher who has faced top competition and has a championship under her belt,” Brown said. “We are excited to have her fun loving spirit and positive energy on our team.”

Brook Richards, a Bellevue, Washington, native, will join the Bengals after graduating from Newport High School in 2021.

“Brook will bring a lot of speed and spunk to our infield,” said Brown. “She pursues excellence in every area of her life and will provide a team first attitude. Her character and drive for high academics will be a great addition to the culture we are building.”

The 5-foot-5 infielder earned the Newport Softball Heart and Hustle Award and helped her team to a fifth-place finish in state for 4A in Washington.

“I chose ISU because when I first stepped on campus I felt at home,” said Richards. “I cannot wait to compete at the highest level as well as get the education I have always wanted.”

Meah Almaraz hails from San Dimas, California, where she will graduate from San Dimas High School in 2021. The 5-foot-6 infielder earned the Golden Glove Award and was named All-League in 2019 while also earning the Coaches’ Award.

“We are excited for Meah to come in and make an immediate impact with her discipline and go getter attitude,” said Brown. “She will provide this team with power and a left handed glove at first base.”

“I chose ISU because it is such a beautiful place and the campus is gorgeous,” said Almaraz. “It has four seasons and I am a Cali girl so I wanted to experience something new.”

Gracie Smith will join the program from her hometown of Meridian, Idaho, where she will graduate from Rocky Mountain High School in 2021. The 5-foot-9 outfielder earned 5A All-Conference varsity softball honors.

“Gracie is speedy in the outfield and a strong lefty that can slap but also has a great power swing,” Brown said. “She will compete for a spot in the top of the lineup and make waves on the base paths.”

“I chose ISU because of the amazing coaches who are going to help me be successful in playing Division I softball while being close to home,” said Smith.