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Five Returning College Softball Pitchers To Watch In 2024

kayla beaver photo by alabama athletics.jpg
(Photo by Alabama Athletics)

A pitcher in college softball is often able to lead her team to victory through an exceptional performance from the circle. Whether it's through posting a high-strikeout total or by way of having her defense help her out, a pitcher often single-handedly influences the outcome of a game.

However, it is often difficult for a young pitcher to become a reliable force for her program’s staff as an underclassman in Division I softball. But some athletes have the innate ability to become an impact pitcher early on in their college softball career.

Below are five college softball pitchers we expect to dominate in the circle once again next season.

Nijaree Canady


After a dream freshman season in 2023, Canady is poised to be a top arm in the sport in 2024.

Her freshman campaign was nothing short of dominant in every aspect. Using her high velocity, Canady led the nation in certain pitching categories. Her 0.57 ERA was the best mark in the country. She also led the nation in strikeouts per seven innings with 11.3. Against Oklahoma in the Women's College World Series, Canady stood up to the challenge, allowing just two runs despite the loss.

Canady has established herself as a top underclassman in college softball. In 2024, we expect her to continue her dominance for the Cardinal.

Jordy Bahl


Bahl transferred home to Nebraska after two seasons and two national championships at Oklahoma. Despite the change of scenery, we expect Bahl to continue her dominance for the Huskers in 2024.

As a sophomore for the Sooners, Bahl posted a 0.90 ERA in 147.1 innings of work. In her two seasons at Oklahoma, she was an All-American both times. She was named the MOP of the WCWS in 2023 after allowing no runs in 10 innings of work against Florida State in the championship series.

While Bahl will not be playing for the defending national champions for the first time in her NCAA career, we see her homecoming as a positive move for the rising junior. With her exceptional talent, we project Bahl to be a star pitcher once again in 2024.

Tori Kniesche

South Dakota State

Kniesche has starred in her first three seasons pitching for South Dakota State, and we expect that she will finish her career off with a bang. The Jackrabbits' ace made a name for herself in her junior season and now has the chance to be a top pitcher in the country in her senior campaign.

In 2023, Kniesche led the nation in shutouts with 14 total. Overall in her career, she has been a top pitcher in the Summit League since her freshman season. She was named a First-Team All-Summit League selection in all three seasons of her college softball career to date and was the Summit League Pitcher of the Year in two. She also holds program records in victories, shutouts and strikeouts.

Entering 2024, Kniesche will be a big name to watch in college softball, as she is one of the most accomplished pitchers in the nation entering her senior season.

Kayla Beaver


Beaver will pitch for the Crimson Tide in 2024, but what she did in her career at Central Arkansas puts her on our list as a top-five returning pitcher. Beaver will be a fifth-year senior for Alabama next season.

In her four seasons at Central Arkansas, Beaver shined, breaking program records and being a dominant force in the circle. She holds the Bears’ record for career ERA with a 1.52 mark and is third all time in strikeouts. In 2023, Beaver had her best year yet. She ranked in the top 10 in the nation for wins and ERA.

While she is moving to a much more competitive conference for her final college softball season, we project Beaver to continue her success at the Division I level and be a top pitcher in the nation in 2024.

Isabella Smith


Smith pitched 95.1 innings more in her sophomore season compared to her freshman season, and as a result, won 29 games in 2023. With her increased workload, she was able to stay consistent and effective. Entering her redshirt junior year, Smith has the opportunity to cement herself as a top arm in the game.

Her 29 wins in her sophomore season gave her the third-highest total in the nation and the highest mark of all underclassmen. At Campbell, Smith has a 1.99 ERA through two seasons and 387.1 innings pitched in total.

The Fighting Camels' pitcher has already accomplished a lot in her two seasons in college softball. While her workload will increase as she becomes an upperclassman, we project her success rate to stay consistent and even improve. Smith has proven that she has the ability to finish the 2024 season as a top pitcher in the country.

montana fouts photo by alabama athletics.jpg

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