DII softball: Queens of the Circle —
Division II's best pitching staffs
The old adage says that good pitching always beats good hitting. If that holds true, these teams have a big advantage with the NCAA postseason looming.
Let's take a look at some of the best pitching staffs Division II has to offer.
Head coach Gary Bryce became the winningest coach in DII softball history this season. He has gotten there with continued success in the circle.
Having the reigning NFCA Division II National Player of the Year certainly helps. Lyndsay Butler is having arguably a better encore performance in her senior season, leading a staff that boasts the best ERA in DII.
Butler is 19-8 in the circle, behind a 0.63 ERA, second in DII. She has the 12th most strikeouts with 190 and the second most shutouts with 11. Butler also paces the offense, leading the team in home runs (7) and RBI (35), with a team-best .469 batting average.
Sophomore Megan Guitar is the other primary pitcher, showing more than capable of taking over as ace when Butler graduates. She is 13-3 with a 1.77 ERA and 92 strikeouts of her own. With Haley Hurd adding spot starts, the staff has combined for a 1.21 ERA, .11 points better than the next closest team.
If you don’t know the name Coley Reis, it’s time you do.
Reis has won the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference Pitcher of the Week three weeks in a row. She also hurled an 18-strikeout perfect game this past weekend.
It was her second perfect game in a row.
Reis has gone the distance in her last two games. She has allowed no runs, no hits, and no walks while striking out 33. In fact, she hasn’t allowed a run since April 8th, the last time she allowed more than two hits in an outing.
The senior is now 23-2 on the season behind 11 shutouts, with a 0.76 ERA, fourth best in DII. Reis strikes out 12.2 batters per seven innings, tops in the circuit, with 289 strikeouts on the season, second to Chowan’s Kayla Robins.
Remarkably, she is not alone. Libby Bemis is 21-4 with a 1.64 ERA. She strikes out a batter per inning with 137 on the year. Together, they anchor a staff that has the second-best ERA in DII at 1.32.
All eyes will certainly be on Reis next start to see if Upper Iowa can solve her hitless streak.
West Virginia Wesleyan
The Bobcats have become a Top-10 team in DII behind success in the circle.
Leading the charge is junior Hannah Vet.
Vet improved her DII-best ERA to 0.60 this past week, going 3-0 with two shutouts and the first no-hitter of the season for West Virginia Wesleyan. She is the ace of a staff that has a 1.40 ERA, tied for fourth best in DII.
Joining her in the circle is senior Sayaka Foley. She has gone 14-3 with a 1.67 ERA. Junior Alyssa Swago and freshman Kayla Marburger round out a staff that has the Bobcats No. 2 in the Atlantic Region.
The Nighthawks have three primary starters this season.
Not one of them has an ERA above 2.17.
Leading the way is freshman Kylee Smith. Smith wasn’t part of the Nighthawks team that won the national championship in 2015. She has certainly done her part to give them a chance at another in 2017.
The freshman ace is 27-4 with a 0.90 ERA. She has 215 strikeouts and has picked up three saves along the way as well. Smith picked up Peach Belt Tournament MVP honors this past weekend, recording a win in each of the three games en route to UNG's fourth straight PBC title.
Nighthawks Claims Fourth Straight PBC Tournament Championship https://t.co/yCpniE51CF— UNG Softball (@UNGSoftball) April 23, 2017
Amber Johns has also been spectacular in the circle, sitting at 8-2 with a 1.83 ERA. Bria Bush is 8-4 with a 2.17 ERA. Together, they clicked at the right time, closing the season on a 9-game winning streak, losing in April just once.
The Warriors, like the Nighthawks, are three deep in pitchers who just don’t like to allow runs. Their combined 1.34 ERA is third best in DII and they’ve been a key component in Winona State’s 40-win season thus far.
Winona State overall is a young team, with just one senior on the roster. The same holds true for the pitching staff, which makes their accomplishments that much more impressive.
It is tough to decipher who the true ace of the team is. Junior McKenna Larsen — the 2015 NSIC Freshman of the Year — was the only incumbent pitcher on the staff. She is having her best year yet at 18-4, with a 0.93 ERA.
The rest of the staff is filled out by an exciting freshmen duo. Jordan Kleman has looked every bit the ace sitting at 16-5 with a 1.79 ERA and team-best 154 strikeouts. Jaida Reynen — the team’s utility player — is a perfect 5-0 with a minuscule 1.08 ERA.
A team doesn't sit at 49 wins and the No. 1 spot in the nation by home runs blasts alone.
Kenedy Urbany and Brandy Marlett have anchored a pitching staff that has a 1.40 ERA.
Urbany -- the senior utlity player -- has been phenomenal at the plate and in the circle this season. She is hitting .329 with 11 doubles and 11 home runs driving in 39, picking up her first LSC Player of the Week honor of 2017. In the circle, she has a team-best 1.06 ERA in 25 appearances (17 starts) going 17-1 over that span.
Marlett may pick up her second Lone Star Conference Pitcher of the Year award in the past three years. The junior is 25-3 with a 1.18 ERA and 253 strikeouts, and the reigning LSC Pitcher of the Week.
When the Rambelles have had to call on Morgan Hill, she has delivered with near perfection. She is undefeated (7-0) with a 2.71 ERA, striking out nearly a batter per inning.
Keep an eye on:
Harding: Freshman Autumn Humes continues to dazzle and senior Hannah Johnson adds to the Harding record books every outing.
Pittsburg State: Junior Emmie Roberstson is putting up one of the best seasons in DII, sitting at 28-6 with a 0.74 ERA and 281 strikeouts.
Chowan: Where the Hawks fall short is depth, but senior Kayla Robins is having a season to remember. She is 20-8 with a 0.99 ERA, 12 shutouts and a DII best 306 strikeouts.