College Softball- Preseason Rankings and Pitchers to Watch

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Oklahoma wins the 2021 Women’s College World Series for softball, leading to them coming into the 2022 season as the #1 ranked team.

Liv Briggs, Staff Writer

The college softball season for 2022 has officially started! College softball typically starts in February, where most games start around the second to third week. For example, the University of Alabama’s first game was Friday, February 11th. The NCAA released the preseason rankings on their website, along with predictions on who will make the Women’s College World Series (WCWS) this year. 

 

   The number one team was Oklahoma. Oklahoma won the WCWS in 2021, and are favored to make it to the series again this season (56-4 record last year). Alabama softball was ranked number two, coming off the previous season hot with momentum. They also appeared in the WCWS, where pitcher Montana Fouts–who set records last season, and won several awards such as 2021 Schutt Sports/NFCA Pitcher of the Year, with over 349 strikeouts–pitched a perfect game in the series on her 21st birthday. Fouts is one of the few players from Alabama to be on the USA Women’s Softball Team for the World Games. Among others in the top of the rankings are UCLA, Florida State, Oklahoma State, and University of Florida. Most of the top ranked teams appeared in the WCWS in 2021. This shows how much power appearing in the WCWS gives teams coming into the next season, which affects the preseason rankings.

 

   Along with the preseason rankings, the NCAA also released a list of top fifteen pitchers to watch this season. This includes Fouts and Kathryn Sandercock from Florida State, who is another one to watch, as she led her team to the title series in the WCWS last season, where she pitched 31 innings. UCLA lost Rachel Garcia, “one of the best two-way players in the history of college softball” according to the NCAA, but pitcher Megan Faraimo returns. Kelly Maxwell of Oklahoma State ended the previous season with 147 strikeouts, and only 34 walks in 116 innings total. Alex Storako from the University of Michigan was unanimously named the Big Ten Pitcher of the Year in 2021. According to the NCAA, Storako had an average of 12.9 strikeout-per-seven innings, and ranked fourth nationally with hits she allowed per seven innings. Michigan also has Meghan Beaubien as a pitcher, making Storako and Beaubien a great duo in the circle.   

 

   All eyes will be on most of these teams as college softball season begins. Which teams will start off their season with a win? 

 

More info can be found on the NCAA website: https://www.ncaa.com/news/softball/article/2022-01-13/college-softball-season-preview-top-pitchers-watch-2022

https://www.ncaa.com/news/softball/article/2022-01-18/college-softball-rankings-preseason-top-25-2022-d1softball