SA’s 2023 Pitcher Of The Year Candidates
College softball has evolved over the past decade from teams having a lone ace to needing a pitching staff to compete at an elite level.
However, there are still some pitchers in the college game who can dominate the opposition without much help.
Below are 10 pitchers who we believe have the ability to do so in 2023 and are most likely to be named our Pitcher of the Year at the conclusion of the coming college softball season.
Last season’s March Pitcher of the Month will return for her redshirt senior season as the reigning Pac-12 Pitcher of the Year. On top of being the Pac-12’s best hurler, she was also named an All-American after posting a 24-5 record with a 1.98 earned run average. Faraimo struck out nearly 100 more batters (292) than innings pitched (198). She also beat Oklahoma in the Women’s College World Series, which forced an if-necessary game, helping her to be named to the WCWS All-Tournament team. Faraimo added to her international experience this past summer as well, as she competed with Team USA.
The Cowgirls were one win away from making an appearance in the WCWS Championship Series, and a large part of that was due to the performance of Maxwell. The southpaw collected two wins in Oklahoma City, five overall wins in the postseason and finished the 2022 campaign with a 21-5 record. Maxwell also had a 1.22 earned run average and 313 strikeouts over 189.2 innings pitched. She finished the season as an All-American, Big 12 Co-Pitcher of the Year and a member of the Women’s College World Series All-Tournament team. There was no offseason for Maxwell, only development, as she spent the summer with Team USA.
One of the faces of college softball returns to Tuscaloosa one last time. Last year, Fouts finished her 2022 campaign with a 24-8 record and a 2.10 earned run average. The right-handed hurler struck out 275 batters over 190 innings of work and held opponents to a .193 batting average. She had 14 double-digit strikeout performances last season. Over the summer, Fouts added to her international experience, as she played with Team USA.
The 2022 Freshman of the Year is back and looking to help the Sooners three-peat for the first time in program history. She also finished the season as a First-Team All-American and the Big 12 Co-Pitcher of the Year. While sophomore slumps exist, we think Bahl will only continue to dominate the opposition. In 141.1 innings pitched, she only gave up 22 runs, which was good for a 1.09 earned run average. Bahl finished the season with a 22-1 record and 205 strikeouts.
The center of Northwestern’s run to the Women’s College World Series for the first time since 2007 was because of the arm of Williams. The graduate student was named the 2022 unanimous Big 10 Pitcher of the Year as well as an All-American. Williams was able to receive those honors after tallying 31 wins and only eight losses with a 2.09 earned run average. The southpaw held her opponents to a .195 batting average and fanned 333 of them. Williams finished the season with 251 innings pitched.
The Razorback offense may have been in the headlines, but it was the arm of Delce that ascended the Hogs to back-to-back SEC regular-season championships and their first conference tournament championship in program history. She was potent against the SEC opposition last season, securing a 9-1 record with a 1.87 earned run average. Delce only gave up 18 earned runs in conference play against some of the nation's best offenses and fanned 84 batters. This effort led her to be named the 2022 SEC Pitcher of the Year. The redshirt senior finished with an overall record of 19-3, a 2.12 earned run average and 188 strikeouts. Delce also captured her first All-American accolade.
Florida State certainly has redemption on its mind after losing in its own regional, and Sandercock is the arm that can propel the Seminoles back to Oklahoma City. Sandercock claimed a 1.44 earned run average paired with 30 wins in comparison to only three losses. She held opponents to a .190 batting average, while striking out 159 of them over 194.1 innings of work. Those wins and strikeouts contributed to helping the Seminoles win the ACC tournament. Sandercock was named an All-American and also gained valuable experience over the summer as she played with Team USA.
Cagle has helped the young Clemson program become one of the top programs in the country, leading the Tigers to a conference championship and super regional appearance during her career to date. She was named a First-Team All-ACC and ACC All-Tournament team selection, among several other honors throughout her college career. Cagle posted a 1.92 earned run average over 160.2 innings of work in 2022. She finished the season with 176 strikeouts and a 16-9 record with a trio of saves.
Lemley was outstanding during her freshman campaign, going 16-6 with a 2.12 earned run average. She averaged more than one strikeout per inning pitched with 212 over 139 innings. Those stats, and helping Virginia Tech win the ACC regular season title, allowed her to be named the conference’s Freshman of the Year and an All-ACC First-Team selection. Lemley will obtain a new role this season as the ace of the staff after the departure of Keely Rochard.
Tennessee is looking to make it back to the Women’s College World Series for the first time since 2015, and that possibility is riding on the right arm of Rogers. The graduate student has been plagued by injuries, but when healthy has the capability to silence the best offenses in the country. Rogers posted a 12-6 record last season with a 2.01 earned run average and held opponents to a .156 batting average. In 104.1 innings pitched last spring, she struck out 128 batters.