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2021 Top 25 College Freshmen

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(Photo by Shanna Lockwood/AU Athletics)

We at Softball America are gearing up for the much-anticipated 2021 college softball season by rolling out a series of rankings that feature the best NCAA players in the game today.

Below, we tackled a ranking of the top 25 players who are listed as college freshmen by their respective programs. This list includes some players who participated in the shortened 2020 college softball season, but held onto their freshman distinction based on their school's ability to grant them an extra year of NCAA eligibility due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Several of the players on this list are true freshmen.

Updated on: 1/12/2021
  1. 1
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    Maya Brady

    UCLA OF
    Notes:

    2020 stats: .356 BA, 21 H, 15 R, 7 HR, 25 RBI, 1.189 OPS
    Scouting Report: Brady won Softball America's Freshman Player of the Year award in 2020. She returns to the freshman ranks after getting a redshirt season. She found hot streaks throughout the 2020 season, so look for her to develop into a star at the plate in 2021.

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    Valerie Cagle

    Clemson P/UTL
    Notes:

    2020 stats: .376 BA, 35 H, 26 R, 10 HR, 36 RBI, 1.167 OPS / 9-6, 2.19 ERA, 89.2 IP, 87 SO
    Scouting Report: Cagle played an important part in Clemson's success during its inaugural season in 2020. She led the Tigers in RBI, hits, average, innings pitched and earned run average. With more years ahead of her, Cagle looks like a key piece for John Rittman's team.

  3. 3
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    Taylor Pleasants

    LSU INF
    Notes:

    2020 stats: .383 BA, 23 H, 23 R, 3 2B, 4 HR, 21 RBI 1.197 OPS
    Scouting Report: The LSU shortstop made her presence known quite quickly in 2020 with her walk-off home run against Oklahoma State. Pleasants certainly didn't look like a freshman last season. Now, she gets a crack at conference play for the Tigers in 2021.

  4. 4
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    Blake Neleman

    Georgia Tech P
    Notes:

    2020 stats: 9-1, 1.45 ERA, 62.2 IP, 77 SO
    Scouting Report: Georiga Tech found its ace of the future in Neleman last season. Her 1.45 ERA ranked her fifth in the ACC in 2020. She guided the Yellow Jackets to wins over Iowa, Iowa State, Kentucky, Penn State and Boston College.

  5. 5
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    Lexi Kilfoyl

    Alabama P
    Notes:

    2020 stats: 6-4, 2.42 ERA, 60.2 IP, 57 SO
    Scouting Report: Surprisingly enough, Kilfoyl led Alabama in innings in 2020 despite its deep rotation. She provided stability for the Crimson Tide to recover from a rocky start to the season. Now, she hopes to be a part of one of the best one-two punches in college softball with Montana Fouts back in good health.

  6. 6
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    Jayda Coleman

    Oklahoma INF
    Notes:

    Scouting Report: Oklahoma adds the National Gatorade Player of the Year in Coleman. She'll join a lineup that seemed to lack star power in 2020, but Coleman will fit right in with the young bats. She does everything right and it probably won't be long until she's making an impact in Norman.

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    Bailey Dowling

    Alabama INF
    Notes:

    Scouting Report: Alabama lost its starting shortstop Skylar Wallace to the transfer portal in 2020. It's likely that Bailey Dowling will step into that spot, and probably won't skip a beat. Whether it be the on the U.S. Junior National Team, Georgia Impact or for St. Joseph-Ogden, Dowling has displayed her special power.

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    Carlie Scupin

    Arizona INF
    Notes:

    Scouting Report: Scupin will most likely fill in the void at first base for Arizona. Slotted into possibly the most talented lineup in the country, Scupin's power can add another element to a dangerous Wildcat offense.

  9. 9
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    Maddie Penta

    Auburn P
    Notes:

    Scouting Report: Maddie Penta joins the Tigers' rotation as Softball America's third ranked player of the 2020 class. Penta, the two-time Maryland Gatorade Player of the Year, hopes to help Auburn get back to Oklahoma City.

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    Avery Goelz

    Florida OF
    Notes:

    Scouting Report: Avery Goelz found success at Florida during the fall and Gators Unlimited scrimmages. The reigning Florida Gatorade Player of the Year can provide the Gators with a consistent performer in the outfield and someone who can contribute at first base.

  11. 11
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    Jordan Weber

    Missouri P
    Notes:

    2020 stats: 5-1, 2.15 ERA, 42.1 IP, 38 SO
    Scouting Report: Part of Missouri's four-pitcher rotation, Weber gave the Tigers quality innings last season. Along with her team's two other starters, Megan Schumacher and Emma Nichols, Weber posted the best ERA of the three. Another step in her development will help put Missouri back into the postseason in 2021.

  12. 12
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    Erin Coffel

    Kentucky INF
    Notes:

    Scouting Report: There are some mighty big shoes to fill in Lexington this season. The departure of Alex Martens leaves a middle infield spot open for Erin Coffel. The former Indiana Gatorade Player of the Year looks to produce in a high-powered Kentucky offense that lost two stars in 2020.

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    Ciara Briggs

    LSU OF
    Notes:

    2020 stats: .393 BA, 19 R, 22 H, 2 2B, 3B, 8 RBI, .949 OPS
    Scouting Report: Briggs contributed a ton at the top of LSU's lineup last season. The corner outfielder finished the shortened 2020 season with a .485 on-base percentage. She's the player who makes Pleasants' and Georgia Clark's numbers look better at the end of the season.

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    Riley Blampied

    South Carolina INF
    Notes:

    Scouting Report: Blampied is another newcomer that will most likely fill the role of a player who left in 2020. With Jana Johns' transfer to Oklahoma, Blampied comes into South Carolina with an opportunity to go from top recruit to a top player pretty quickly.

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    Terra McGowan

    Oregon C
    Notes:

    2020 stats: .375 BA, 23 R, 30 H, 9 2B, 3 HR, 22 RBI, 1.016 OPS
    Scouting Report: After an eventful start to her college experience, McGowan finally got to play last season. She helped Oregon fly out of the gates in 2020. The Ducks catcher provided a quality bat toward the top of the lineup and was a backstop for a quality pitching staff.

  16. 16
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    Aynslie Furbush

    Ole Miss P/UTL
    Notes:

    Scouting Report: Furbush has a chance to be Jamie Trachsel's first ace at Ole Miss. Molly Jacobsen's move to Texas means that the Rebels are left with little experience in the circle. That provides a pathway for the Florida 8A state champion to perform in Oxford.

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    Nicole May

    Oklahoma P
    Notes:

    Scouting Report: May is more talented than her spot on this list indicates. Last season, the Sooners spent a lot of time using pitchers not named G Juarez, and May can certainly step into that second starter role in 2021. Don't be shocked if, by the end of the season, May ends up at the top of these rankings if she's given the opportunity to prove herself.

  18. 18
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    Jahni Kerr

    Florida State OF
    Notes:

    Scouting Report: Kerr adds an incredible amount of speed for Florida State in 2021. She has all the tools to be a solid all-around outfielder when inserted into the lineup, and will most likely be the Seminoles' starting center fielder once Dani Morgan graduates.

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    Ryleigh White

    Texas P
    Notes:

    Scouting Report: Mike White gets a really good player from New Jersey and the Athletics Mercado program. Ryleigh White can certainly be a contributor in her first year and help keep Miranda Elish and Molly Jacobsen fresh.

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    Abby Doerr

    Alabama C
    Notes:

    2020 stats: .178 BA, 9 R, 8 H, 3 2B, HR, 5 RBI, .535 OPS
    Scouting Report: Doerr was thrust into a strange situation and needed clearance to enroll early in 2020 and play for Alabama. She got a taste of college softball and hit a home run in her first game for the Crimson Tide.

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    Alex Salter

    Alabama P
    Notes:

    Scouting Report: Patrick Murphy brings in another talented hurler in Salter. The only issue for her is how many innings she gets behind a deep Alabama pitching rotation. The former Georgia Impact star might need to wait a season before having a major impact for the Crimson Tide.

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    Tiare Jennings

    Oklahoma INF
    Notes:

    Scouting Report: Jennings has one of the best bats in the 2020 recruiting class. The California product is a player who will find a role at the top of the Oklahoma lineup in the years to come as a lead-off hitter. She does the little things right, as she didn't strike out or commit an error during her final high school season.

  23. 23
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    Sarah Willis

    Washington P/UTL
    Notes:

    Scouting Report: Willis will probably follow the path that Kelley Lynch and Brooke Nelson took last season. She'll help provide innings behind Gabbie Plain and find at-bats throughout the campaign. It seems the former Corona Angel will certainly find a role somewhere for Heather Tarr's squad.

  24. 24
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    Lexi Sosa

    UCLA P/UTL
    Notes:

    2020 stats: .250 BA, H / 2-0, 2.47 ERA, 17 IP, 14 SO
    Scouting Report: Sosa made a name for herself last season in the circle with her perfect game. However, her impact at UCLA in 2021 will probably consist of developing more as a hitter with the return of Rachel Garcia to the pitching staff this year.

  25. 25
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    Sophia Carroll

    Arizona INF
    Notes:

    Scouting Report: Arizona brought in one of the most talented freshmen classes to join its veteran team. Carroll is a player that created a lot of buzz in the fall. Similar to others on this list, the path to playing in 2021 isn't as clear, but if she's hitting, Mike Candrea will find a way to get her on the field.

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