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Wayne Cavadi | | April 18, 2017

Florida highlights DI's best battery mates

  Florida's Kelly Barnhill has been nearly untouchable this year with a DI-best 0.19 ERA.

The pitcher-catcher combo in softball is vital to a team's success. The trust they must develop in each other trickles down as they set the tone for victory.

Here's a look at five of the best battery mates DI softball has to offer.

RELATED: USA Today/ NFCA Coaches Poll

Florida Gators

Catcher: Janell WheatonAces: Kelly Barnhill, Delanie Gourley 

Florida is so good in the circle, they have a rotating battery of Player of the Year semifinalists. They are as equally dangerous to opposing teams as they are enjoyable to watch.

Barnhill has been phenomenal on the mound, going 18-0 with a 0.19 ERA, nine shutouts and 205 strikeouts. 

This past weekend, she hurled her second career no-hitter. The final score was 2-0, with both runs being driven in by her catcher Wheaton. Talk about trust.

That’s not to sell Barnhill’s pitching companions short. Senior Delanie Gourley is 13-3 with a 1.02 ERA and seven shutouts of her own. Junior Aleshia Ocasio has chipped in seven wins wth no losses and an also impressive 0.84 ERA. Along with sparingly-used freshman Katie Chronister, the Gators lead the nation with a microscopic 0.75 ERA.

Wheaton does play some first base as well as catcher. That's because the possible Gators' catcher-in-waiting -- freshman Jordan Roberts -- plays mostly DP thanks to a big bat. Neither have committed an error and Roberts has had a remarkable rookie campaign, hitting .300 with six home runs and 32 RBI. Wheaton is not only helping the pitching staff, but also the junior serves as a model for the next wave of Gators as well. 

James Madison Dukes

Catcher: Kiersten RoadcapAce: Megan Good

Good’s last name is an understatement. She has been nothing short of fantastic for the Dukes this season. 

Good is second in DI with a 0.47 ERA. She is 27-1 with 12 shutouts, more than anyone else in the nation. Her 206 strikeouts also land her in the top 10. 

Not too shabby, right?

When you add in that she is second on the Dukes in batting average (.405) and tied for first in RBI (42) with six home runs, her season gets that much better.

Catching her is the freshman Roadcap. She is hitting .308 with six home runs and 20 RBI. She’s been on fire in her last two series, going 6-for-12 with 11 RBI and five runs scored. Most importantly, she has been a perfect receiver for Good, committing no errors on the season.

Florida State Seminoles

Catcher: Sydney BroderickAce: Jessica Burroughs

  Burroughs has been the ace for the Seminoles in 2017.
The fastest way to the No. 1 spot in the country is behind sound pitching.

That’s exactly what the Seminoles have gotten out of their senior ace.

Burroughs is amongst the best in DI with a 0.77 ERA. She has walked as many batters as she has wins, sitting at 20-2, striking out 193 batters along the way. Burroughs is also a finalist for Player of the Year, but the work of her rotation-mate shouldn't go unnoiticed. 

Sophomore Meghan King may not be a finalist for Player of the Year yet, but if she keeps up her pace, she certainly will be in years to come. King is now 18-1 with a 1.72 ERA in 2017. 

Broderick had a sensational 2016 debut with FSU after she transferred in from BYU. This year has been even better. The senior is batting .385 with four home runs and 29 RBI. She’s made just one error behind the plate, posting a .995 fielding percentage.

When you are the No. 1 team in the country, your battery is often your heartbeat. Burroughs and Broderick have not failed in their job.

Arizona Wildcats

Catcher: Dejah MulipolaAces: Taylor McQuillin, Danielle O’Toole

Mulipola is only a freshman, which means her best days are ahead of her. That’s a frightening thought for Pac 12 softball.

She came to Arizona as the fifth best-recruit in the country. Thus far, Mulipola has filled the bill. She is hitting .377 with 10 home runs in one of the most power-happy lineups in the country. She's also third on the team with 43 RBI.

As a catcher, she has yet to make an error in her young career, while throwing out two base runners. She also has her hands full with two of the best pitchers in the land.

The problem is picking the ace here. Senior Danielle O’Toole is 22-1 with a 0.87 ERA and 158 strikeouts. Sophomore Taylor McQuillan picked up her first loss of the season this past weekend. She's now 13-1 with a 1.16 ERA and 114 strikeouts. Together they find themselves ranked high atop the leaderboard nationally, and anchor one of the best team ERAs in DI at 1.03.

That's a good problem to have for the Wildcats come May.

LSU Tigers

Catcher: Sahvanna Jaquish | Aces: Carly Hoover, Allie Walljasper, Sydney Smith

Only two catchers in the nation made the cut on the 2017 finalists for USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year and Jaquish was one of them. The senior is second on the team in batting (.339) trailing only Bailey Landry, who was leading the nation in that category. She’s also belted six home runs and boasts a team-best 42 RBI. Behind the plate she has thrown out nearly 40 percent of her runners, while making just three errors on the season.

Juniors Carly Hoover (11 starts) and Allie Walljasper (12 starts), along with sophomore Sydney Smith (12) starts have combined for a 1.49 ERA, one of the best marks in DI. Hoover has led the charge with team-bests 0.95 ERA and 121 strikeouts. Walljasper has the most wins with 11, and is tied with Smith for a team-best four shutouts.

Jaquish better be a Player of the Year finalist. She has her hands full with some of the SEC's best pitching.

Honorable mention:

Oregon Ducks: 

Freshman Maggie Balint is establishing herself as one of the premier pitchers in the Pac 12. She is currently 16-2 with a 0.86 ERA and 123 strikeouts. Her catcher Gwen Svekis is batting .297 and is second on the team in home runs. She also has a .984 fielding percentage as the catcher for a rotation with a top-10 1.21 ERA.


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