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Five Winners Of The 2022 College Softball Offseason

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(Photos by UCLA Athletics)

This college softball offseason has been one for the books with hundreds of player hitting the transfer portal, coaching changes around the country and what has felt like a complete reshuffling of rosters everywhere.

The rich got richer this offseason, as many of the sport's juggernauts added to their already threatening lineups and pitching staffs and appeared to only get stronger during the summer's dog days.

Read below to learn who the five biggest winners were this summer in college softball, which could have a drastic impact on who is raising the national championship trophy next June in Oklahoma City.

Oklahoma

The Sooners’ journey to a three-peat began the morning after they claimed their sixth national championship in program history, as Patty Gasso and staff hosted Michigan transfer Alex Storako on an official visit. The 2021 Big Ten Pitcher of the Year announced three days later that she’d join the Sooners for her fifth and final year of college softball. In 2022, Storako claimed a 25-8 record with a 1.71 earned run average and a career-best 300 strikeouts.

Oklahoma’s landing of Storako was just the beginning of Gasso’s dominance in the transfer portal this offseason. A pair of former Arizona State Sun Devils in Alynah Torres and Cydney Sanders and former Texas A&M Aggie Haley Lee will look to fill the void left by Jocelyn Alo in Oklahoma's lineup.

Sanders wasn’t only one of the best freshmen in the country last season, named the Pac-12 Freshman of the Year, but she was also one of the most prolific hitters in the entire country. The California native batted .425 with 21 home runs and 63 RBIs in 2022.

Like Sanders, Torres will be another offensive catalyst making her way from Tempe to Norman. She was named to the All-Pac 12 Team last season behind her .339 batting average, 16 home runs and 40 RBIs.

With one season of eligibility remaining, Lee wants to give herself what she believes is the best chance to “seize everything” she’s ever wanted at Oklahoma. She launched 15 home runs last season, while driving in 45 RBIs and carrying a .405 batting average.

There’s no replacing Alo, but adding Sanders, Torres and Lee may be the closest thing to it.

UCLA

Last year, the biggest question for the Bruins was who would fill the No. 2 role in the circle behind Megan Faraimo.

Holly Azevedo answered that question, going 21-3 on the season with a 1.50 ERA and was a big part of UCLA’s push to a national semifinal appearance. This same question arose for the Bruins at the conclusion of the 2022 season, and head coach Kelly Inouye-Perez looks to have found the answer.

Westwood will be the new home for Oregon transfer Brooke Yanez. The southpaw missed the entire 2022 season due to injury, but when healthy is an All-American caliber pitcher.

Yanez won’t be the only former Duck making the trek from Eugune to Westwood, as she’s followed by Rachel Cid. Cid batted .252 with four home runs and 13 RBIs in 2022.

To boot, All-Americans Sharlize Palacios and Janelle Meoño will go from the second most storied program in Arizona to the most storied program in UCLA.

In 2022, Palacios bashed 20 home runs, knocked in 64 RBIs and held a .326 batting average, while Meoño was the Pac-12 batting champion back in 2021 with a .439 average.

Oklahoma State

A large part of Kenny Gajewski’s success in Stillwater has been his ability to snag All-Conference and All-American caliber pitchers in the transfer portal, which include the likes of Carrie Eberle, Miranda Elish and Morgan Day. With the departure of Elish and Day due to exhausted eligibility, there was a need for an arm behind All-American Kelly Maxwell.

This void will be filled by Alabama transfer Lexi Kilfoyl. Kilfoyl finished the 2022 season with a 9-3 record, 2.36 earned run average, 79 strikeouts and her season was highlighted by a six-inning perfect game against Georgia. The one question mark with Kilfoyl for the Cowgirls is will she stay healthy? In both her sophomore and junior years, she missed a hefty amount of time due to injury. She is coming off a successful surgery on a labral hip tear.

Gajewski also picked up a pair of big bats in Purdue transfer Rachel Becker and Alabama transfer Megan Bloodworth. In her senior year, Becker hit for a .429 clip on 66 hits and finished with 17 RBIs. In Bloodworth’s freshman campaign, she boasted a .292 batting average with seven home runs and 30 RBIs.

The Cowgirls also landed Kansas transfer Micaela Wark, UAB transfer Sophie Page and Virginia Tech transfer Ivy Rosenberry.

Arkansas

Arkansas has declared itself a powerhouse in the SEC the past two seasons, winning both SEC regular season championships and the 2022 conference tournament championship. While it's nearly impossible for head coach Courtney Diefel and staff to replace players like 2022 SEC Player of the Year KB Sides and All-Americans Danielle Gibson and Linnie Malkin, they picked up a couple players who will have an immediate impact—Duke transfer Kristina Foreman and South Dakota State transfer Cylie Halvorson.

Foreman is coming off her best collegiate season, where she was named a 2022 All-ACC Second Team honoree. The Tampa, Fla. native posted a .398 batting average with 15 long balls and 56 RBIs. Both her batting average and RBIs led the Blue Devils in 2022.

The Razorbacks have been given the name the ‘Bogle Bombers’ due to the power they have displayed the past couple years. Halvorson has the ability to keep this name going for the next two seasons. She mashed 20 home runs with a .311 batting average and 46 RBIs, leading her to be named the 2022 Summit Player of the Year. Halvorson holds a .342 career batting average and 40 home runs.

Tennessee

It’s no secret Ashley Rogers is the type of pitcher college softball fans want to see get her chance to perform in the Women’s College World Series. Head coach Karen Weekly made a splash in the transfer portal this offseason by acquiring Payton Gottshall, Mackenzie Donihoo and Giulia Koutsoyanopulos.

A large part of the Lady Vols' success in 2022 was transfer Erin Edmoundson’s ability to step up in the ace role due to Rogers being sidelined by injury. With Edmoundson exhausting her eligibility, Rogers was in need of a new counterpart who we now know is Gottshall, the 2022 MAC Pitcher of the Year.

Gottshall tallied 27 wins along with 374 strikeouts and a 1.69 earned run average in 253.1 innings pitched in 2022. The rising senior proved herself to be one of the best strikeout pitchers in the country, averaging 10.13 per seven innings, which is the third-best mark among active pitchers.

For a program that hasn’t reached the Women’s College World Series since 2015, Donihoo may be the player to help guide the Lady Vols back to Oklahoma City. Not only did she compete at the Women’s College World Series and win a national championship with the Sooners in 2021, but she was an instrumental part of Oklahoma’s championship run. In 2021, Donihoo hit for a .438 average with nine home runs and 45 RBIs, and she was even better in the postseason with a .476 batting average. She has a career .317 batting average.

Koutsoyanopulos brings solid numbers into Knoxville with a .290 batting average and 23 runs scored, but what makes her a unique transfer is her international experience, as she competed in the 2020 Olympics with Team Italy.

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