There have been plenty of freshmen that have dazzled in their DII softball debuts this season. Here’s a look at seven who hope to continue those big seasons all the way to Denver for the 2019 DII softball championship.
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Teala Howard, West Florida
Howard has been steady right out of the gates for the Argos and recently won Gulf South Conference freshman of the year honors. You aren’t going to find a lot of power in her swing but Howard constantly makes contact and is hitting .457. She leads the team in runs and hits and has made just one error on the season.
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Ruby Salzman, West Texas A&M
If there is one thing guaranteed in DII softball, it’s that the Lady Buffs are going to hit home runs. A lot of them. Salzman has had no problem fitting in, tied for the freshmen lead in home runs with 15. She’s also hitting a robust .377 with 13 doubles while leading the team with 48 runs scored. There’s no question Salzman has been a huge addition to West Texas.
Lydia Goble, Grand Valley State
Goble has been a welcome addition to the Lakers, leading them to the GLIAC regular season title and the top of the Midwest rankings. She’s leading the conference in RBI with 53 and has slugged 13 home runs while batting .360. Goble is riding a seven-game hitting streak into her first GLIAC tournament.
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Mary Pardo, Augustana (SD)
Pardo is a big bat leading off one of the more home run-happy teams in DII softball. The freshman outfielder has hit 13 of the Vikings 73 home runs, which is fourth-best in DII. Not only did she earn NSIC freshman of the year honors, she took home the NSIC gold glove in the outfield, proving she’s much more valuable than just being a basher at the plate.
Sierra Hucklebee and McKenzie Henry, Lincoln Memorial
The Railsplitters had 24 wins last season. This year, they have 35 as they await the selection show to see if they get an at-large bid. Hucklebee and Henry are a huge reason behind that improvement. Hucklebee took home conference freshman of the year honors hitting .351 with 24 extra base hits and a team-high 10 stolen bases. Henry finished with the third-most home runs (13) and RBI (52) in the South Atlantic Conference. It looks like the young Railsplitters may be trending upward for the future.
Brylynn Vallejos, San Francisco State
Yet another freshman of the year, Vallejos' big season took home CCAA rookie honors. She led the conference with a .462 batting average and 90 hits, which are also third-best in DII softball. She joins Teala Howard as the only two freshmen among the 25 finalists for the 2019 Schutt Sports/NFCA Division II National Player of the Year award. The Gators finished seven games under .500 last season and one year later are ranked fifth in the final regional rankings of the season. Vallejos is a big reason why.