Join Our Newsletter! Get The Latest Delivered Right To Your Inbox

Five Players We Expect To Avoid Sophomore Slumps In 2024

makenna reid florida state Photo by Ian Maule_Getty Images.jpg
(Photo by Ian Maule/Getty Images)

Many times in college softball, freshmen phenoms are able to quickly burst onto the scene and have breakout seasons. Often, young stars will make instant impacts on their respective programs and impress opponents and onlookers alike with their play.

While freshmen stars are extremely impressive, especially at the Division I level of college softball, what is even more impressive is when those players are able to experience similar personal successes on the field during their sophomore campaigns.

Below are five players who succeeded as freshmen in Division I college softball in 2023 who we expect to avoid sophomore slumps in 2024.

NiJaree Canady

Canady was nothing short of a superstar during her freshman season at Stanford. As the ace of the Cardinal rotation, Canady put up absurd numbers, with multiple season-defining moments mixed in. In 135 innings pitched, Canady earned a nation-leading 0.57 ERA and recorded 218 strikeouts.

Canady exceeded double-digit strikeouts in six starts in 2023, but, arguably, her best start of the season actually came in a loss to No. 1 Oklahoma in the Women's College World Series semifinals. Facing the future national champions, Canady allowed just one run on four hits in five innings of work. While Stanford would eventually lose the game, 2-0, the performance proved just how dominant Canady is.

D’Auna Jennings

Jennings used her outstanding abilities to lead Duke out of the leadoff spot as a freshman.

She batted .462 in 2023, which was the sixth-best mark in the nation and first among freshmen. As the leadoff hitter for the Blue Devils, she led her team all the way to Super Regionals. Jennings showcased her talent in the Durham Regional, when she hit .778 across three games.

Her defensive ability also doesn’t go unnoticed. As Duke's center fielder, she is a ball hawk, tracking down anything coming her way. A diving catch against East Carolina from Jennings in 2023 even placed her as the No. 1 play of the day on SportsCenter.

Alexis Pupillo

A freshman starting catcher in college softball is very rare. However, Alexis Pupillo dominated from the catching position in 2023 in only her first year at the Division I level of college softball.

Pupillo batted .442 and recorded a fielding percentage of .998 for the University of Northern Iowa. She hit 16 home runs in 138 at-bats. Defensively, she caught nine baserunners stealing over the course of the season.

Pupillo earned multiple awards as a freshman. She was the Missouri Valley Conference Freshman of the Year, among other honors.

Taryn Kern

Kern had an impressive year at the plate for Indiana in 2023. As a freshman, she had a batting average of .404, recording 63 hits in 156 at-bats. What was so spectacular about her freshman season was that she was able to maintain a great batting average, while also hitting for power. She hit 23 home runs and had a .942 slugging percentage.

Kern was the Big Ten Player and Freshman of the Year in 2023, and tied the record for most home runs in a freshman season in the conference's history.

Makenna Reid

Reid excelled when she was given an opportunity to pitch in the shadow of Florida State ace Kathryn Sandercock in 2023.

She came out of the bullpen 39 times during her freshman season and did a stellar job. She finished with a 0.97 ERA and a record of 13-0, while allowing just four home runs across 313 batters faced.

With Sandercock’s college softball career ending at the 2023 WCWS championship series, Reid will likely emerge as Florida State's ace in 2024 and improve upon her stellar numbers from the spring.

kathryn sandercock photo by jade hewitt_athletes unlimited.jpg

Kathryn Sandercock Adjusts To Pros By Embracing New Role

Kathryn Sandercock is adjusting to her first pro softball season by embracing a role that she first got a taste of at Florida State.

of Free Stories Remaining