College softball: Bender headlines Bulldogs recruiting class
Senior multisport standout Kiana Bender of Cloquet headlines the Minnesota Duluth softball team’s recruiting class as Bulldogs coach Jen Walter has 10 athletes committed to playing beginning in 2020-21.
Bender, a shortstop, hit .366 last spring with three home runs and a .573 slugging percentage as the Lumberjacks captured third at the Class AAA state tournament.
Bender followed that up by being named the News Tribune’s All-Area Player of the Year in soccer after netting 20 goals and assisting on 15 others as Cloquet-Carlton made the Class A state tournament. She then earned All-Area first-team honors in hockey after notching 34 goals and 27 assists as Cloquet-Esko-Carlton went 27-4 and finished as Class A runner-up.
Bender’s older brother, Koby, is a junior winger with the UMD men’s hockey team.
Bender is joined in the recruiting class by another multisport standout, hockey linemate Dea DeLeon of Esko. DeLeon, a center fielder, has started the past three seasons and earned All-Area first-team honors after hitting .526. As a libero in volleyball she earned Polar League All-Star honors.
The rest of the UMD recruiting class consists of utility player Kat Burkhardt (New Berlin, Wis.), pitcher Lauren Dixon (Pulaski, Wis.), infielder Julia Gronholz (Chanhassen, Minn.), outfielder Paige Meyer (Hudson, Wis.), catcher Kate Mohr (Farmington, Minn.), shortstop Kaytlynne Shulte (Osseo, Minn.), catcher Kelly Swank (Durant, Fla.) and pitcher Corrie Weise (Becker, Minn).