Oklahoma Star Tiare Jennings Is Just Getting Started
A name that was heard a lot during the 2021 college softball season was Tiare Jennings. New to the college softball scene, the San Pedro, Calif. native made a name for herself in a big way as a freshman.
After choosing Oklahoma over UCLA, Alabama and Arizona in her recruiting process, Jennings became one of the top Sooner threats last season. She set two single-season program records by hitting 52 extra-base hits and recording 25 doubles during her first year of college softball. Jennings led the NCAA with her 25 doubles and set the NCAA single-season freshman RBI record with 92 runs scored, en route to helping Oklahoma capture its fifth NCAA championship.
"Being in that environment of competition and just having fun every single day just kind of pushes me to be my best," Jennings told NCAA.com last spring. "Being surrounded by people who are just like you and striving to make you better...has definitely brought out the best in me."
The stunning numbers went on and on for SA's 2021 NCAA Freshman of the Year. She posted a .462 batting average as a freshman and managed to strike out only 17 times. She also hit 27 home runs, the second-highest mark on the team, and was just three home runs shy of tying the NCAA freshman record of 30 home runs in a single campaign, which is held by Lauren Chamberlain.
Jennings played just as well in the field as she did at the plate in 2021. She started all 60 games during the season, while holding her own at second base for 57 games and three at third base. In the middle infield, the freshman committed only three errors for a .997 fielding percentage.
Along with making a name for herself as one of the best college softball players in the entire country, Jennings racked up many accolades throughout the season. She was chosen as the Big 12 Player of the Week four times, while also earning NFCA National Player of the Week honors once. The rookie earned the Big 12 Freshman of the Year award along with being named the National Freshman of the Year by several softball outlets. Jennings was also voted a first-team All-American and received first-team All-Region honors, among several other honors throughout the campaign.
"I definitely didn't expect (to do this well)," Jennings added. "I definitely came in just wanting to compete for a spot and do whatever I could to help this team no matter if I was on the bench or the field."
After an otherworldly 2021, Jennings is perhaps one of the best talents we've seen in college softball in a long time, and she still has three more seasons to continue her growth as a player.
Next season as a sophomore, expect Jennings to contribute a wealth of knowledge to her team and help lead the Sooners deep into the postseason yet again. If her track record is any indication, softball fans should prepare for Jennings to make some serious noise in 2022 and beyond.