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Four Returning College Defensive Players To Watch In 2024

kaley mudge Photo by C. Morgan Engel_NCAA Photos via Getty Images.jpg
(Photo by C. Morgan Engel/NCAA Photos via Getty Images)

In 2023, we saw some amazing college softball defenders make outstanding plays all season long. From home-run robberies to shutouts in the circle, there was no shortage of defensive skill on the field this spring.

And with several defensive standouts graduating in 2023, next season should bring a new flock of defensive wizards to college softball's national stage. There are, however, also returning players who we expect to continue to make their marks with their gloves in 2024.

See below for four returning college softball defensive stars who we can't wait to watch dazzle on the diamond once again next spring.

Kaley Mudge

Florida State

Rising-senior Kaley Mudge is one of the best outfielders in the nation. Not only is she a proven offensive weapon for Florida State, but she is also known as an elite athlete with her glove.

In her time with the Seminoles to date, Mudge has made several plays that have been featured on SportsCenter’s Top 10, including her famous home-run robbery against Oklahoma in this year’s Women’s College World Series. We expect her to continue her dominance in Florida State's outfield in 2024.

Valerie Cagle


It is a known fact that Cagle is one of the best two-way players in the country. Returning to Clemson for her senior year in 2024, the National Player of the Year is expected to continue her dominance both in the circle and at the plate.

On top of her outstanding offensive and pitching numbers, Cagle is also arguably the best college softball athlete in the nation. She has the ability to play the field when she is not toeing the rubber, and was granted a Gold Glove award for her ability to field her position in the circle. She posted a .955 fielding percentage in 40 chances with just two errors in 2023.

Just like the rest of the nation, we are anticipating that Cagle will get it done with her glove once again in 2024, and may even lead her Tigers to The Promised Land in Oklahoma City next June.

Jordy Bahl


Although Bahl will not be donning Oklahoma's uniform in 2023, her level of play is not expected to change during her debut season at Nebraska in 2024. After leading the Sooners to back-to-back national titles in her first two years of college softball, Bahl is nationally known as one of the best overall athletes in the country.

When she is not pitching to a 0.90 ERA with 192 strikeouts and earning the 2023 Women’s College World Series Most Outstanding Player award, she is making her presence felt in the batter's box and also fielding her position with the best of them. Expect Bahl to ball out as a pitcher, hitter and fielder with the Cornhuskers for the next two seasons.

Emily Vinson


Emily Vinson isn't exactly a household name among college softball fans, but that has nothing to do with her ability in the outfield. Longwood's rising junior is one of the best outfielders in the country, finishing the 2023 season with a perfect fielding percentage in 68 chances, and earning a Gold Glove award for her play in left field as just a true sophomore.

After the display she put on in the outfield for the Lancers in 2023, we expect that plenty more opponents and onlookers alike will know Vinson's name during her last two seasons of college softball.

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