Three College Softball Pitching Staffs To Watch This Season
The days of Alabama’s Jackie Traina, Arizona State’s Dallas Escobedo or Washington’s Danielle Lawrie tossing around 50 games in a college softball season and slinging almost every pitch for their team during the postseason en route to capturing a national championship are long gone. In the last decade of college softball, teams have evolved from carrying aces to bolstering a two- to three-, maybe even four-, person pitching staff.
In 2021, three of the best pitching staffs included UCLA’s Rachel Garcia and Megan Faraimo, Alabama’s Montana Fouts and Lexi Kilfoyl and Florida State’s Kathyrn Sandercock and Caylan Arnold. There were several other teams that had elite aces such as Garcia and Fouts, however, they did not have counterparts nearly as strong as the No. 1 option.
Here are three teams that have pitching staffs to watch during the 2022 season.
The Ducks have one of the best southpaws in the game in rising super senior Brooke Yanez. Yanez’s biggest highlights of the 2021 campaign came when she handed UCLA two losses. She finished the season with a 22-6 record and 2.11 ERA.
While Oregon had other solid arms in the circle in 2021, no one was able to baffle opponents like Yanez was. However, incoming freshman and SA's No. 8 overall 2021 recruit Stevie Hansen looks to have the ability to change that.
During her high school career, Hansen had a 0.55 ERA and won back-to-back CIF Southern Section Softball Championships in 2018 and 2019 in the state of California. This past summer, Hansen was selected to compete in the Alliance Fastpitch Championship Series All-Star Game and also led her travel ball team, Athletics Mercado, to the first-ever AFCS title.
The reigning national champions will not have Shannon Saile and 2021 Women’s College World Series Most Outstanding Player Giselle “G” Juarez back in Norman this season. But if any team can recover from losing its two strongest arms, it looks to be the Sooners.
Luckily for head coach Patty Gasso, she will have rising sophomore Nicole May, who racked up innings and pitched in big games in 2021, and 2021 National Gatorade Player of the Year Jordyn Bahl leading the way in 2022.
May posted a 14-2 record with a 3.05 ERA in 85.2 innings pitched. The Pleasanton, Calif. native registered wins against Texas, Oklahoma State and Washington in game one of the Norman Super Regional last season. With Juarez and Saile both gone, May will be the veteran pitcher returning to the Sooner staff.
Bahl will be the second straight Sooner to head to Oklahoma as the reigning National Gatorade Player of the Year. She is SA's No .1 recruit in the 2021 class and was a PGF All-American. In Bahl’s senior year of high school, she posted a 27-0 record accompanied by a 0.10 ERA and 316 strikeouts. The Papillion, Neb. native also led her high school to a Class A state championship as a senior and captured the PGF 18U national championship.
Rising junior Shea O’Leary led the Longhorn pitching staff with a 1.82 ERA in 2021 and had the most wins with 16. O’Leary was backed up by Molly Jacobson (14-6, 3.23 ERA), however, she will not have Jacobson by her side this year due to graduation.
SA's No. 9 recruit in the 2021 class and Texas product Sophia Simpson looks to be O’Leary’s counterpart this coming season. Simpson is a two-time Gatorade Player of the Year in Texas and led her high school to a 5A state championship while posting a 0.18 ERA and a 21-0 record. Simpson helped the Texas Bombers, her travel ball team, finish second at the Alliance Fastpitch Championship Series and was named an All-Star by AFCS.