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Top Five College Batteries To Watch In 2022

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(Photo by Keith Birmingham/MediaNews Group/Pasadena Star-News via Getty Images)

To celebrate the countdown to the college softball season, we looked at the five batteries we’re most excited to watch when the season begins in February. These aren’t necessarily the best batteries in the sport, but a group we’re most intrigued by given last year’s results.

Alabama

Montana Fouts and Ally Shipman

Montana Fouts and Bailey Hemphill were one of the most dominant batteries we’ve seen in college softball over the last few years. They constantly fed off of each other’s energy, whether it was Hemphill hitting massive home runs or Fouts being dominant on the mound. But with Hemphill’s graduation, Alabama is now looking for someone else to pair up with Fouts.

The Crimson Tide will look no further than Shipman, who transferred to Alabama from Tennessee with two years of eligibility left. In 2021, Shipman started in 53 games and had a .991 fielding percentage. She was tied for third in the SEC with seven caught stealings. She has a career batting average of .331 and can back up Fouts with her bat.

We expect Fouts to be as dominant as ever in 2022, but we’ll have to wait and see how she and Shipman pair together. Shipman has the resume and talent to help keep Alabama at the top of the heap in the SEC.

Oklahoma

Jordyn Bahl and Kinzie Hansen

Losing pitchers of the caliber of Shannon Saile and G Juarez would be a massive detriment to any team in the country, but when you have the 2021 No.1 recruit waiting in the wings, you’ll probably be just fine.

Oklahoma freshman Jordyn Bahl posted a ridiculous stat line as a high school senior in 2021, going 27-0 with a 0.10 ERA and 316 strikeouts. Given the loss of Saile and Juarez to graduation, there are massive expectations on the shoulders of the freshman to perform and help Oklahoma repeat as national champions.

She’ll have help along the way in Hansen, though, who was named a 2021 SA third-team All-American. She finished with five caught stealings and had a .990 fielding percentage on the year. With her past experience catching Saile, Juarez and sophomore Nicole May, she could help Bahl progress and become one of the best pitchers in the country.

James Madison

Alissa Humphrey and Lauren Bernett

James Madison doesn’t have to go far to find its next ace. Alissa Humphrey didn’t receive a lot of press last year due to Odicci Alexander’s terrific performance, but now she’s in the spotlight. In her freshman year, Humphrey had a 14-0 record with a 1.56 ERA, 11 complete games and four no-hitters, although she only pitched four times during the postseason.

What better way for Humphrey to elevate her game than by sticking with Lauren Bernett? Bernett was a mainstay behind the plate last year for JMU, starting 43 games and learning much along the way. Although she finished with just a .235 batting average on the season, we can expect better things now that she has already played one collegiate campaign.

Texas State

Jessica Mullins and Cat Crenek

If there’s one word to describe Jessica Mullins, it’s swagger. She was one of the most dominant pitchers in the country last year, as she finished with a 20-6 record and a 1.71 ERA—not to mention the no-hitter she threw in her collegiate debut. During Texas State’s 18-game winning streak from March 5 to April 6, Mullins racked up 10 wins and one save.

Can she repeat her dominance in her sophomore season? With senior Cat Crenek back behind the plate, it’s entirely possible. Crenek started 46 games for Texas State in 2021 and finished the season with 10 caught stealings, which was second in the Sun Belt Conference.

Mullins struggled early in her freshman year with control of her changeup, but with the help of Crenek, she was able to develop it into a strikeout pitch. It’ll be tough to duplicate the success Mullins had in 2021, but with the same partner in Crenek, it’s possible we see Texas State as a Cinderella story in the 2022 NCAA Tournament.

UCLA

Megan Faraimo and Alyssa Garcia

We often think about what could’ve been for UCLA in 2021. Megan Faraimo was electric, posting a 19-3 record with a 1.10 ERA before injuring her right hand during super regionals. How will she come off of her injury in 2022 along with the departure of Rachel Garcia?

When Alyssa Garcia committed to UCLA, Kelly Inouye-Perez referred to her as a “high-level quarterback behind the plate.” She’s established herself as such after forming a close rapport with UCLA's pitching staff. The one big question that remains is, how will Faraimo and her catcher respond after last season’s disappointing ending?

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