Softball announces two signees

By Gus Bode

SIUC softball coach Kay Brechtelsbauer announced Monday that the Salukis signed two players for the 1998-1999 season.

Andrea Harris, a catcher/first baseman from Evansville, Ind., and Jessica Laughry, an outfielder from Tulsa, Okla., are the newest Salukis.

Harris was a third-team all-state selection as a junior at first base, and she was selected to the second-team all-state as a catcher. Laughry was all-region, all-conference and all-state selection her senior season at Jenks High School.

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Brechtelsbauer said Harris and Laughry are the only new recruits she plans on signing for the 1998-1999 season.

Diamondbacks officially sign Bell

In one stroke, the Arizona Diamondbacks nailed down a key infield position and got a veteran to lead a young team.

The Diamondbacks went into Tuesday’s expansion draft knowing they did not have to worry about acquiring shortstops. Monday, Arizona landed Jay Bell by giving him a $34-million, five-year contract the largest ever given to a middle infielder.

Bell, 31, hit .291 last season with the Kansas City Royals with career highs of 21 home runs and 92 RBI. His career fielding percentage is .976.

The contract surpasses Cal Ripken’s $32.5-million, two-year deal with Baltimore. Only Ryne Sandberg, who in 1993 and 1994 averaged $7.1 million as the Chicago Cubs’ second baseman, has had a higher single-season salary among middle infielders.

Bell, who made $4.8 million last season, will collect $5 million in 1998, $6 million in 1999, $7 million in 2000 and $8 million in each of the 2001 and 2002 seasons.

Bell spent most of his career with the Pittsburgh Pirates. He joined the Royals in December as part of a six-player trade.

Prior to 1997, his best season at the plate was 1993, when he hit a career-best .310 and had nine homers, nine triples and 32 doubles. He also won his only Gold Glove that season, ending Ozzie Smith’s 13-year reign as the best fielding shortstop in the National League.

Barkley to miss a week with strained groin

Houston Rockets forward Charles Barkley will miss at least three games and possibly more because of a strained left groin. He was hurt Sunday during a loss to the Phoenix Suns.

Team physicians examined Barkley Monday and found that he also may have a pre-existing hernia that could be lingering from a collision with Dallas Mavericks’ center Shawn Bradley last season. Barkley missed 14 games after that incident.

Barkley will miss tonight’s game against New York, Thursday’s game against Toronto and Sunday’s game against Golden State. After that, the Rockets have a five-day rest.

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