Position Players to Follow

Ashley Hansen
Sr. | SS | 5-7

Hansen was named the USA Softball National Player of the Year after hitting .495 to rank third nationally in 2011. She had 95 hits, including a national-best 25 doubles, while slugging .797 with a .558 on-base percentage. After hitting .337 a year earlier, Hansen refocused at the plate (she had a 19-game hitting streak) and finished the year with just five strikeouts in 192 at-bats, the third-best strikeout ratio (one K per 38.4 at-bats) in the country.

Katelyn Boyd
Arizona State
Sr. | SS | 5-5

Key Notes:
• Two-time first-team All-American and among final three for 2011 national player of the year
• Batted .429 with 66 RBI while ranking third nationally with 1.2 runs per game (79 total)
• Also ranked 13th nationally in on-base percentage (.549) and 18 home runs

Kayla Braud
Jr. | OF | 5-6

Key Notes:
• Two-time All-American and 2011 NFCA All-America Scholar Athlete
• Led Crimson Tide in batting average (.436), hits (89), runs (71), on-base percentage (.517) and stolen bases (58)
• Steals total led nation and runs mark was sixth

Michelle Moultrie
Sr. | CF | 5-4

Key Notes:
• 2011 WCWS Co-Most Outstanding Player and All-American
• Four of six home runs in 2011 came in WCWS
• Hits and homers marks tied WCWS records as she led field in five categories
• Hit .443 with 101 hits, 75 runs and 31 stolen bases on the year

Christi Orgeron
Sr. | UTL | 5-11

Key Notes:
• Third-team All-American in 2011
• Led nation with 101 RBI, 21 more than second place and third-highest season total in NCAA history
• Second in country for homers (23) and runs per game (1.21, 75 total) while being fifth in slugging (.886) and 14th in triples (5)

Kelsi Weseman
Georgia Tech
Sr. | 3B | 5-6

Key Notes:
• 2011 second-team All-American
• Finished fifth in the country with 21 home runs and 30th with a .424 average
• Slugging percentage of .968 ranked second, as she had 153 total bases while driving in 65 runs (14th nationally)
• Hit homers in five consecutive games 

Pitchers to Watch

Dallas Escobedo
Arizona State
So. | RHP | 6-0

Escobedo posted a 1.51 ERA but was dominant when her team needed it most as she led ASU to the 2011 national title, the first freshman to win the championship game. She finished with 37 wins, the second-highest total in program history, and had 324 strikeouts to rank 14th in the country. Her win total was second in the country only to Cal's Jolene Henderson and her three losses tied for the fewest by any pitcher with at least 20 wins. 

Whitney Canion
Jr. | LHP | 5-11

Key Notes:
• Second-team
All-American while leading team to 2011 WCWS
• Finished 14th nationally with
1.28 ERA in 278.1 innings
• Her 338 strikeouts were 10th in the country
• Ranked third nationally with 415 strikeouts as a freshman in 2009

Jolene Henderson
Jr. | RHP/1B | 5-8

Key Notes:
• First-team All-American in 2011
• Recorded 40 wins in 2011 to set the program single-season mark
• Was third nationally with a 0.99 ERA -- and one of only three under 1.00 
• Finished 12th in the country with 333 strikeouts in 333.1 innings

Blaire Luna 
Jr. | RHP | 5-8

Key Notes:
• Second-team All-American in 2010 and 2011
• Third nationally with 16 shutouts
• Named national player of the week after firing perfect game against then-No. 4 Washington in 2011
• Was 12th nationally in ERA (1.27) and 19th in strikeouts (316)

Keilani Ricketts
Jr. | LHP | 6-1

Key Notes:
• Named an All-American each of past two years
• Won 29 games in 2011, tossing 284.1 innings with a 1.48 ERA
• Power pitcher ranked third nationally in total strikeouts (452) and strikeouts per seven innings (11.13)
• Had 13 homers, 45 RBI at the plate

Chelsea Thomas
Jr. | RHP | 5-10

Key Notes:
• First-team All-American who was also one of three national player of the year finalists
• Led the country with a 0.95 ERA, allowing 37 earned runs in 271.1 innings
• Also had 397 strikeouts to rank fourth
• Led Tigers to three consecutive WCWS bids

Keep an Eye on These Programs

Arizona State
Key Players (Yr., Pos., 2011 Stats): Dallas Escobedo (So., RHP, 37-3, 1.51 ERA, 255.1 IP, 326 K), Katelyn Boyd (Sr., SS, .429, 18 HR, 66 RBI, 20 SB), Talor Haro (Sr., OF, .366, 43 R)

Noting the Sun Devils:  It's good to be No. 1, and like they ended last season in Oklahoma City, the Sun Devils are atop the polls entering the season. ASU had arguably the top storyline entering the WCWS last year with then-freshman phenom Dallas Escobedo leading the way in the circle. Every time you thought the freshman would crack under pressure, she stepped up to the challenge. This year, she'll need to lead from the start but she'll have plenty of firepower on offense to back her up. Boyd is a legitimate national player of the year contender and the Sun Devils likely will get more support from outfielders Annie Lockwood (19 HR), Talor Haro and Alix Johnson. 

Key Players (Yr., Pos., 2011 Stats):
Michelle Moultrie (Sr., CF, .443, 75 R, 31 SB), Hannah Rogers (So., RHP, 36-8, 1.92 ERA, 221 IP), Brittany Schutte (Jr., C, .326, 22 HR, 69 RBI) 

Noting the Gators: Florida came up just short of winning the SEC's first national title last year, reaching the championship series at the WCWS. Three of the top four hitters from that lineup are gone, but there is still plenty of experience and versatility returning. CF Michelle Moultrie was the hottest player in Oklahoma City last year and C Brittany Schutte can keep the Gators in any game with just one swing -- she finished third nationally with 22 home runs last year. Hannah Rogers won 36 games in the circle as a freshman and looks to take on even more of a leadership role this spring.

Key Players (Yr., Pos., 2011 Stats):
Keilani Ricketts (Jr., LHP, 29-15, 1.48 ERA, 284.1 IP, 452 K), Jessica Shults (Jr., C, .338, 19 HR, 58 RBI), Destinee Martinez (So., OF, .348, 80 hits)

Noting the Sooners: The Sooners reached the WCWS for the first time in seven years last spring. With powerful lefty Keilani Ricketts returning in the circle, there's a strong likelihood the Sooners could make the short trek to ASA Hall of Fame Stadium again. Ricketts set the school record with 452 strikeouts and will again add to a potent offense after blasting 13 home runs a year ago. Jessica Shults missed seven postseason games with pan ulcerative colitis but still hit a Big 12-high 19 home runs. Destinee Martinez is also back after leading the league with 80 hits as a freshman in 2011. This year's highly touted recruits will have the chance to do the same.

Other Teams to Watch: Alabama, California, Missouri, Arizona, Stanford, Georgia, Kentucky.

Contests to Look for in 2012

No. 1 Arizona State -- Feb. 11: vs. No. 14 Tennessee March 15: vs. No.23 Louisiana-Lafayette March 16: vs. No. 15 Michigan March 23-25: vs. No. 8 Arizona April 20-22: vs. No. 9 Stanford May 10-12: at No. 4 California

No. 2 Florida -- Feb. 23: vs. No. 17 Texas A&M, vs. No. 12 Washington Feb. 24: vs. No. 18 Texas March 9-11: at No. 14 Tennessee March 30-31, April 1: at No. 10 Georgia April 27-29: vs. No. 13 Kentucky May 4-6: at No. 3 Alabama

No. 3 Alabama -- Feb. 18: vs. No. 5 Oklahoma, vs. No. 11 Oklahoma State March 13: at No. 16 Oregon April 6-8: vs. No. 22 LSU April 20-22: at No. 10 Georgia May 4-6: vs. No. 2 Florida

No. 4 California -- Feb. 10: vs. No. 14 Tennessee Feb. 19: vs. No. 22 LSU March 14: vs. No. 17 Texas A&M March 15: vs. No. 18 Texas March 30, 31-April 1: vs. No. 12 Washington April 13-15: vs. No. 8 Arizona May 10-12: vs. No. 1 Arizona State

No. 5 Oklahoma -- Feb. 18: vs. No. 3 Alabama Feb. 24: vs. No. 9 Stanford Feb. 25: vs. No. 10 Georgia March 2-3: vs. No. 22 LSU March 15: vs. No. 15 Michigan March 17: vs. No. 12 Washington March 23-25: at No. 7 Baylor April 4-6: vs. No. 18 Texas

No. 6 Missouri -- Feb. 25: vs. No. 21 Nebraska, vs. No. 12 Washington Feb. 26: vs. No. 19 UCLA March 23-25:  vs. No. 7 Baylor April 20-22: at No. 5 Oklahoma May 4-5: at No. 16 Oregon May 11-13: vs. No. 11 Oklahoma State

No. 9 Stanford -- Feb. 10: vs. No. 17 Texas A&M Feb. 24: vs. No. 5 Oklahoma March 23-25: vs. No. 4 California March 30-April 1: at No. 8 Arizona April 20-22: at No. 1 Arizona State May 4-6: vs. No. 12 Washington

All photos courtesy of respective school athletic departments.