2021 Top 25 College Juniors
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 were listed as college juniors by their respective programs at the time this ranking was put together. Some of these players held onto their junior 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 juniors.
Aaliyah JordanUCLA OFNotes:
2020 stats: .435 BA, 30 H, 18 R, 13 2B, 2 HR, 27 RBI, 1.262 OPS
Scouting Report: At times it felt impossible to get Jordan out. She was the top hitter in UCLA's talented lineup in 2020. The home run numbers weren't there, but she made up for it with her doubles.
Keely RochardVirginia Tech PNotes:
2020 stats: 15-3, 1.52 ERA, 120 IP, 183 SO
Scouting Report: Using workhorse probably doesn't do Rochard's 2020 season justice. The Virginia Tech pitcher led the nation in strikeouts and guided her team to a 21-4 record. Rochard threw every inning but 43.1 for the Hokies in 2020.
Natalie DenHartogMinnesota INFNotes:
2020 stats: .429 BA, 33 H, 20 R, 5 2B, 7 HR, 28 RBI, 1.303 OPS
Scouting Report: DenHartog has been nothing but a star for the Golden Gophers. After a great freshman season, she played even better in 2020. Look for more of the same from Minnesota's top bat in 2021.
Janae JeffersonTexas INFNotes:
2020 stats: .554 BA, 41 H, 30 R, 6 2B, 2 3B, 7 RBI, 1.296 OPS
Scouting Report: There may not be a better leadoff hitter in the nation than Jefferson. All she does is get hits and score runs. It'll be even more important for her to continue to play at a high level with the departure of Miranda Elish.
Charla EcholsFlorida INFNotes:
2020 stats: .417 BA, 35 H, 19 R, 5 2B, 8 HR, 28 RBI, 1.242 OPS
Scouting Report: Echols made the jump into the SEC without any bumps in the road. She led the Gators in hits, home runs and RBI in 2020. As Florida looks to compete for the SEC title in 2021, Echols will have a huge influence on whether or not the Gators can win it.
Brooke YanezOregon PNotes:
2020 stats: 9-1, 1.56 ERA, 62.2 IP, 94 SO
Scouting Report: The UC Davis transfer became a top arm in the Pac-12 in 2020. Yanez will get her first test facing the conference's talented bats this coming season.
Baylee KlinglerWashington UTLNotes:
2020 stats: .481 BA, 37 H, 19 R, 8 2B, 5 HR, 33 RBI, 1.296 OPS
Scouting Report: Klingler ended the 2020 season with one of the hottest bats in the nation. Her adjustment to Washington came together as Pac-12 play was just about to begin. She led the Huskies in hits, doubles and RBI in 2020.
KB SidesAlabama OFNotes:
2020 stats: .483 BA, 28 H, 20 R, 4 2B, 22 RBI, 1.128 OPS
Scouting Report: Sides had a breakout year in 2020. She became the Tide's most productive bat with a .483 batting average and a team-high 22 RBI. She'll play an important role in Alabama's battle for the SEC crown.
Hannah McEwenArkansas OFNotes:
2020 stats: .418 BA, 28 H, 27 R, 6 2B, 2 HR, 12 RBI, 1.188 OPS
Scouting Report: Arkansas has had three productive years from McEwen. She's established herself as the premier hitter in the Razorback lineup. McEwen does everything a coach could ask at the plate from driving in runs to having one of the best walk percentages in the SEC.
Cayla KessingerMissouri OFNotes:
2020 stats: .429 BA, 33 H, 17 R, 4 2B, 2 3B, 6 HR, 32 RBI, 1.298 OPS
Scouting Report: Kessinger's leap at the plate was a big reason the Tigers had a successful 2020 season. She ended the season on a 15-game hitting streak and hopes to carry it into 2021. With Missouri eligible again for the postseason, Kessinger will need to repeat her performance to help the Tigers get there.
Marissa GuimbardaClemson OF/UTLNotes:
2020 stats: .355 BA, 27 H, 17 R, 4 2B, 11 HR, 31 RBI, 1.314 OPS
Scouting Report: Guimbarda was one of the best power hitters in the country in 2020. Clemson was able to make a name for itself because of players like her. She'll be a centerpiece as the program continues to grow.
Briana PerezUCLA INFNotes:
2020 stats: .420 BA, 34 H, 31 R, 5 2B, 2 HR, 28 RBI, 1.048 OPS
Scouting Report: Perez is the piece of UCLA's lineup that can go underappreciated. She hits for average, scores runs and adds power, while playing solid defense as well. She's a staple for UCLA's success.
Ally ShipmanTennessee CNotes:
2020 stats: .403 BA, 25 H, 13 R, 7 2B, 2 3B, 2 HR, 16 RBI, 1.156 OPS
Scouting Report: Softball has yet to see a full college season from Shipman. 2021 should be the year that she shows her star power for the Vols. In two shortened seasons, she's had a high average and slugging percentage as well as being one of the best catchers in the nation.
Sami ReynoldsWashington OFNotes:
2020 stats: .424 BA, 28 H, 27 R, 2 2B, 3 HR, 19 RBI, 1.173 OPS
Scouting Report: Ever since Reynolds stepped onto UW's campus, she's produced for the Huskies. The outfielder saw her numbers jump in the box last season. Her continued development in 2021 will add another exceptional piece to the Huskies' lineup.
Sydney SherrillFlorida State UTLNotes:
2020 stats: .344 BA, 22 H, 23 R, 4 2B, 4 HR, 16 RBI, 1.137 OPS
Scouting Report: Sherrill's 2020 season wasn't her best, but she set a high standard for herself the two years prior. With more normal seasons ahead, one can expect the talented Sherrill to get back to her usual numbers. She still was in the top three in team categories for runs scored, doubles, home runs and batting average.
Grace LyonsOklahoma INFNotes:
2020 stats: .370 BA, 27 H, 22 R, 7 2B, 5 HR, 23 RBI, 1.119 OPS
Scouting Report: The Sooner shortstop made quite the leap in 2020. Her batting average jumped over .100 points, while she nearly matched her 2019 totals in hits, doubles, home runs and RBI in 40 less games. Lyons looks to be another star in the making in Norman after last season.
Georgina CorrickSouth Florida P/UTLNotes:
2020 stats: 12-3, 1.29 ERA, 97.1 IP, 127 SO
Scouting Report: Corrick once again came out in 2020 and was excellent in the circle. USF's top arm tied the program's single-game strikeout record, recorded five shutouts and led the conference in strikeouts. She also made her first major contributions at the plate that included the game-winning home run versus Georgia.
Kiley NaomiOklahoma State INFNotes:
2020 stats: .355 BA, 27 H, 25 R. 4 2B, 8 HR, 19 RBI, 1.173 OPS
Scouting Report: The Cowgirls' leadoff hitter did a lot for Oklahoma State in 2020. Naomi finished second or better on the team in hits, home runs, RBI, runs scored and walks. After a freshman year that was more dedicated to her defense at shortstop, Naomi appears to be developing into an all-around player.
Makinzy HerzogTexas A&M P/UTLNotes:
2020 stats: .415 BA, 34 H, 29 R, 11 2B, 2 3B, 6 HR, 17 RBI, 1.295 OPS / 3-0, 0.82 ERA, 25.2 IP, 28 SO
Scouting Report: Herzog came to Texas A&M from Florida State and flourished. She led the Aggies in batting average, runs, hits, home runs and added 11 doubles. She also gave Texas A&M some quality innings in the circle in 2020.
Shelbi SunseriLSU P/UTLNotes:
2020 stats: .328 BA, 19 H, 8 R, 5 2B, 1 HR, 18 RBI, .886 OPS / 6-0, 1.20 ERA, 35 IP, 26 SO
Scouting Report: Sunseri was part of LSU's talented pitching quartet from 2020. She was also a staple in the Tigers' lineup and her 18 RBI was toward the top of the team. She'll be a key piece for LSU in 2021.
Samantha YarbroughAuburn PNotes:
2020 stats: 6-0, 1.15 ERA, 48.2, 53 SO
Scouting Report: Auburn used Yarbrough in more of a reliever role in 2020 and it worked well. She only started three games in 2020, but had excellent outings against Texas State, Minnesota and Florida. With a few talented freshmen arms coming in, it'll be interesting to see how Mickey Dean uses his rotation in 2021.
Lauren BurkeTexas UTLNotes:
2020 stats: .453 BA, 29 H, 20 R, 12 2B, 2 3B, 4 HR, 20 RBI, 1.412 OPS
Scouting Report: Burke found her power stroke in 2020. She led or finished second for Texas in hits, doubles, home runs, total bases and slugging percentage. The Longhorns will need her hot streak to continue into 2021 for the offense to repeat its 2020 output.
Grace GreenOklahoma OFNotes:
2020 stats: .338 BA, 25 H, 14 R, 7 2B, 15 RBI, .883 OPS
Scouting Report: Green made matching her fantastic freshman season hard, but she still found success last year. She led the team with nine stolen bases. The Sooners hope she can bring her power back from her 17 home run season in 2019.
Mary IakopoTexas C/UTLNotes:
2020 stats: .361 BA, 26 H, 20 R, 5 2B, 4 HR, 25 RBI, 1.059 OPS
Scouting Report: Texas' RBI leader was another key part in the Longhorns' lineup. Iakopo and Burke will have to carry the load in terms of power numbers since Miranda Elish won't return to the field for Texas in 2021. The catcher will also be key in helping Molly Jacobsen's and Ryleigh White's transition to Austin.
Skylar WallaceFlorida INFNotes:
2020 stats: .387 BA, 24 H, 27 R, 5 2B, 2 3B, 1 HR, 18 RBI, 1.105 OPS (at Alabama)
Scouting Report: Sophia Reynoso decided not to use the extra year of NCAA eligibility for 2021. Florida now gets to insert an experienced SEC player in Skylar Wallace from Alabama to fill that infield role. Wallace led Alabama in runs scored and has been a consistent bat the past two seasons.