The Cleveland Comets will open their second home series of the season on Tuesday at Akron’s Firestone Stadium with a new face in the lineup.
Northeast Ohio softball fans won’t need a roster to identify that new player as Jenna Lilley led North Canton Hoover High School to four straight Ohio High School Athletic Association state championships from 2010-2014.
Lilley on Saturday signed a contract with the Comets and will join the team on Monday.
“Being able to come home and play in the area that made me who I am is really special to me,” Lilley said. “It’s really important for my family to be able to come and see me more, as well as playing in front of the younger generations of Northeast Ohio. I am passionate about growing softball, particularly in this region of the country, so being able to play here is something I am really excited about.”
As a high school senior, Lilley was named the No. 1 high school player in the country by StudentSports.com. She went on to star at the University of Oregon, where she was named the 2015 PAC-12 Freshman of the Year and a second-team All-American.
She was named all-conference three times and closed out her career in 2018 as a third team All-American and a first team All-PAC 12 selection.
Shortly after Oregon’s final game in the 2018 College World Series, Lilley traveled to Houston, Texas to join Team USA for several friendly competitions before a week in Japan as the squad continued its preparations for the 2018 International Cup in Irvine, Calif., from July 9-15.
Lilley, who always dreamed of playing professionally and earning a spot on the US Olympic team, will split time this summer between the Comets and Team USA.
“For those dreams to have become a reality, it is really fulfilling,” she said. “I had big dreams growing up and I am really grateful for those dreams to have come true having played at Oregon, with the Team USA, and now with the Comets professionally. I hope to keep having big dreams as I move forward with my professional career and with Team USA.”
The Cleveland Comets drafted Lilley with the 22nd overall pick in the 2018 National Pro Fastpitch draft.
“Hearing my name getting called in the pro draft was extremely exciting,” Lilley said. “I remember smiling ear to ear and was just so happy to have this opportunity. I was also with my one of my best friends–and Chicago Bandit–Gwen Svekis at the time when I found out. We were both thrilled to be able to continue our careers as professionals.”
She’s looking forward to beginning her pro career on Tuesday in Akron.
“I want to win and do what I can to help the team win,” she said. “I want to do my part to contribute and add to the program and be a part of championships, as well as inspire the fans who come to our games.”
In four years at Oregon, Lilley, a third baseman, started 234 of the 236 games in which she played. She batted .346 with 175 runs scored, 222 hits, 52 doubles, six triples, 17 home runs and 144 runs batted in. She recorded a .526 slugging percentage and struck out just 49 times in 641 at bats.
The Cleveland Comets host the Aussie Spirit at Firestone Stadium from July 3-5. More information and tickets can be ordered here.