The 2023 college softball season kicks off Feb. 9 with a full game schedule. Here’s a look at some of the best pitchers returning to the circle this season.
Bahl returned to Oklahoma after taking the sport by storm her freshman season as a Sooner. The fiery right-hander had six double-digit strikeout performances. She missed much of the season due to injury, but she returned for the WCWS and helped lead her team to its second straight championship. Despite her injury, she was still named the 2022 Co-Big 12 Pitcher of the Year. She finished sixth in the NCAA with a 1.09 ERA and I expect her to have an incredible second season when she gets back to health .
As if the Sooners weren’t stacked enough, Storako moved on to the schedule. Hope Trautwein graduated, and now Storako will be in that post on the pitching staff. At Michigan, she was the 2021 Big Ten Pitcher of the Year and finished last season with a 1.71 ERA and 300 strikeouts in 200.1 innings pitched. Those 300 strikeouts ranked sixth in the entire NCAA. With Nicole May, Storako and Bahl, look out for this Sooner launch staff.
Megan Faraimo — UCLA
Megan Faraimo returns for one final season at UCLA. She is an electric two-way player for the Bruins, the sixth player in program history to pitch and hit a home run in the same WCWS game. She was the 2022 Pac-12 Pitcher of the Year and was named to the WCWS All-Tournament Team after a complete game performance, 10 strikeouts with one home run against Northwestern. She showcased a 1.98 earned run average with 292 strikeouts in 198.0 innings.
Danielle Williams – Northwestern
Speaking of Northwestern, the arm that carried the Wildcats to the WCWS last season is back for one last ride. The first team All American was the first unanimous Big Ten Pitcher of the Year in program history. She was third in the NCAA in strikeouts with 333 while posting a 2.09 ERA. She also won the Big Ten pitching triple crown after leading the conference in strikeouts, ERA and wins during the regular season.
Kelly Maxwell – Oklahoma State
As for who shared Big-12 Pitcher of the Year honors with Bahl… you might have guessed it. Oklahoma State’s Kelly Maxwell returned. The left-handed enters the season as player no. Those 313 Ks ranked fifth in the NCAA.
We have another year of Montana Fouts in the loop for Alabama. The 2021 NFCA Pitcher of the Year missed the WCWS last year and didn’t put up the same caliber numbers he did in his 2021 campaign, but it’s safe to say you can expect great things from Fouts heading to its last season.
Kathryn Sandercock – State of Florida
Now in the ACC, Kathryn Sandercock returns for the Seminoles. She finished 2022 second in the nation in wins and had all three wins for the Seminoles in the ACC Tournament as FSU won its 18th conference title. She finished with a strong 1.44 ERA and an opponent batting average of . 189.
Chenise Delce took home the 2022 SEC Pitcher of the Year award, a great accomplishment in such a heavily loaded softball conference. She led the Razorbacks in the circle to the program’s first SEC Tournament Championship and earned SEC Tournament MVP honors. She finished 2022 with a 2.12 ERA, 188 strikeouts, 14 complete games and five shutouts.
Alana Vawter is a name to know. You may remember her from the 2022 NCAA Tournament when she pitched two shutouts at Alabama, the first time the Crimson Tide was shut out in the regional round since 2004. She led the Pac-12 in wins and shutouts, ranking fifth and 11th nationally in categories and posted a 1.97 ERA and 164 strikeouts in 227.2 innings.
Emma Lemley—Virginia Tech
Lemley will be the ace go-to at Virginia Tech following the departure of Keely Rochard. Lemley was a top three finisher for Freshman of the Year after finishing with a 2.12 ERA and an opponent batting average of . 186.
Rogers is coming off two great seasons for the Volunteers. He posted a 2.01 ERA last season with an opponents .156 average. She finished the year with a 12-6 record and ranked seventh in Tennessee history with 59 career wins.
When Auburn’s pitching staff suffered multiple injuries last season, Penta picked up a big caseload as a sophomore. He ended up leading the SEC with a 1.76 ERA, giving up just 49 earned runs. He set the program record for starts in a season with 35 and had wins in 23 of his 35 starts. He also set the program record for consecutive winning decisions with a nine-game hitting streak.
Here are some other names to keep an eye out for:
- Valerie Cagle—Clemson
- Jessica Mullins – State of Texas
- Peyton Gottshall—Tennessee