Jessica Funk To Continue Softball Career At University At Buffalo (05/04/13)

Jessica Funk, a four year starter for Coach Dan Shofestall on the Clarion High School Lady Cats softball team, will be taking her diamond skills to the next level next season, as a member of the 2013 recruiting class of the University at Buffalo.

The University at Buffalo is a Division I Softball program that competes in the Mid American Conference (MAC) and is located in Amherst New York, a suburb of the City of Buffalo. Jessica will join the University at Buffalo program in August.

Jessica with Lady Cats Head Coach Dan Shofestall and Assistant Coach Randy Reynolds

Jessica with Lady Cats Head Coach Dan Shofestall and Assistant Coach Randy Reynolds

Buffalo Head Softball Coach Jen Teague has announced the addition of three new players that will join the Bulls for next season. Of the three, Jessica is the only high school player to sign. The other two are junior college transfers, catcher Adrienne LeBeau from Seminole State College in Florida and Devon Rodriguez a pitcher/infielder from Santa Ana College in California.  (Two other players signed with the Bulls in November: Ashton Earnhardt, from Rejoice Christian High School (Owassa, OK) and Kelly Mascari, from West Hill (Syracuse) HS.

“Jessica is a well rounded player that we think will add tremendous depth to our team,” indicates Teague. “She has had an excellent high school and travel ball career with two quality programs. Jess has been playing third base most recently but was First Team All- State at Second Base in the past. We like her ability in the outfield or behind the plate as well. She can play all 9 positions at a very high level. We are excited to have her join our program.”

In addition to playing for the Lady Cats, Jessica is also a member of the Pittsburgh Power Gold Softball program that competes in showcase tournaments around the United States. That program is led by coaches RJ Matetic, Joe DeCristoforo and Lou Dimaria.

A story on the U at B Athletic website mentions: “Funk is a utility player who has experience at second base and has also pitched. She spent five years with the Xplosion Fastpitch travel team before moving to the Pittsburgh Power Gold in 2011. She has been on the varsity team at Clarion Area High School for four years. She was on the first team All-District at second base in 2010 and 2011, and was first team All-State in 2011 while leading the team to a second place finish in the state. Last season, she was a first team All-District utility player and was a second team KSAC Pitcher. She has taken part in the Queen of Diamonds showcase tournament two times, winning the MVP of the tournament in 2012.”

Asked why she chose Buffalo, Jessica said,  “Well, the first thing, I fell in love with the coaches, the first time I went to a camp up there my Junior Year. It’s the right size. I always wanted to go to a bigger school, since Clarion is so small. And the campus is beautiful and there’s all kinds of stuff around to do.”

On U at B Coach Jean Teague, Jessica said, “Oh yeah, she’s great. I’ve always had male coaches and she’s just a real outgoing female coach. She’s all about having fun. But they are working towards a MAC Title, in the next couple years. I hope to be a part of that.”

And of playing in the Mid American Conference, she said, “I’m really excited. It’s like one of the bigger Conferences in the D-I. So I’m looking forward to playing with all of the greats up there.”

The fact that no one succeeds on their own is not lost on Jessica, who has played at second and third, as well as pitched for The Lady Cats. She has high praise for Clarion Coach Shofestall, “In my Freshman year, he started me at 2nd base, really got me started there. He never lost faith in me and he’s taught me all the skills I need, to have a great career at Buffalo.”

Speaking of her Lady Cats teammates, Jessica said, “It’s been a pleasure, especially this year’s Senior class. The Hummell’s (Audrey and Ashley) especially. They’ve pushed me and we’ve kind of pushed each other and accomplished a lot as a class.”

Of her elite, Pittsburgh Power Softball team coaches, she said, “They taught me all about recruiting and the do’s and don’ts. My coach, R. J. Matetic, I give him sole credit for getting me to Buffalo.”

Jessica’s family has been very instrumental in her success.

She says of father, Erik, “He’s been the chauffer, personal coach, nurse, everything. He stuck with me and dealt with my attitude and my slumps and he got me through it. And I’m really thankful every day that he’s my dad.”

And of her mother, Barbara who did the little background things, that so often go unrecognized and her brother, “I thank her for cleaning my uniform every day and she’s a great supporter and so is my little brother Erik. He’s really not into sports but he’s a trouper and he comes along.”

Speaking of his star player, Coach Shofestall says, “We are all happy for Jess. I know it has been a dream of hers to play college softball . She pursued those dreams and worked hard to achieve them. I think Buffalo is a great fit for her , as I know that Jess really liked the Buffalo campus and the Bulls coaching staff and team. It is great that she will be playing Division 1 Softball at an outstanding University like Buffalo in a good competitive conference like the MAC.

“I think one of Jessica’s strengths is her versatility. She can play all positions on the field, handles the bat well and has a great knowledge of the game of softball.  But most importantly she is a good student who excels in the classroom.

“I know Coach Teague and the Buffalo Bulls have made a good choice on adding Jessica to the team and I know she will be eager to help them be successful in any way she can.”

Coach Shofestall continued, “She brings great pride to the Clarion Bobcat softball team, her school and to the whole Clarion community.

“We will be really pulling for her success in Buffalo. We wish Jessica, her family, and the University at Buffalo the best of luck in the years to come.”

Jessica is one of four Clarion High School athletes to sign with Division I sports programs in the last year or so: Cassidy Sintobin (Class of 2012) joined 2009 CHS grad, Kierstin Kiser on the St. Francis Volleyball team. And from Jessica’s Class of 2013: T. J. Armstrong will be playing for the Old Dominion University Football team, in Conference USA, next fall.  T. J. joined the team in January. Ellie Burns will be a member of the University of Pittsburgh’s Volleyball team, next season, as the Panthers join The Atlantic Coast Conference. This is quite a D-I run for CHS, as often a decade or more will go by without a single D-I signee.

Jessica plans on majoring in Communications at Buffalo. She says that becoming a sportswriter or announcer are possibilities.