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|No. 2||South Florida|
|No. 5||Wichita State|
Player of the year: AnaMarie Bruni, USF
Pitcher of the year: Georgina Corrick, USF
Newcomer of the year: Allyse Volpe, UCF
Projected regional teams: UCF, USF, Houston
Teams to watch
The Knights went 21-5-1 in 2020, including the best start in program history (16-2). They return seven players that batted over .300, led by Shannon Doherty’s .443 average. Sophomore utility Jada Cody has the potential to star in all realms. Redshirt senior right-hander Alea White is the ace of the pitching staff. Key additions this season include true freshmen Kennedy Searcy, Katie Burge and pitcher Grace Jewell and junior outfield transfer Allyse Volpe, a member of the Canadian Junior National Team and former Patriot League Rookie of the Year while at Bucknell. UCF last won the ACC title in 2015.
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Ken Eriksen will be balancing the head coaching job while preparing the United States Olympic team for the postponed Tokyo Games in the summer. Eriksen took a leave of absence last year to coach Team USA, but the Games were delayed by the coronavirus pandemic. USF finished 16-9 in 2020 under interim head coach Jessica Moore. The Bulls return All-American Georgina Corrick, the 2019 AAC Pitcher of the Year, and AnaMarie Bruni, who hit a conference-best .476 in 2020. Senior infielder Brooke Hartman and sophomore outfielder Meghan Sheehan are two other key returning starters.
The Cougars return 15 players from the 2020 team that went 16-7 in the shortened 2020 season. The season included the program’s first 11-game win streak since 2011. Houston brings back the top four hitters – seniors Lindsey Stewart (.404), Aspen Howie (.339), Sarah Queen (.333) and junior Kati Ray Brown (.333). Brown’s nine home runs led the AAC and ranked No. 15 in the nation. The Houston staff had a collective ERA of 3.95. Rachel Hertenberger had the lowest ERA at 2.91 and Logan Hulon led the team in innings pitched (54.0) with a 4.33 ERA.
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Tulsa started out 7-0 in 2020 under first-year head coach Crissy Strimple before finishing 13-11. The Golden Hurricane return eight of nine starters and their top three pitchers in Samantha Pochop, Chinese Delce and Kassidy Scott. Pochop finished 4-2 with a 0.87 ERA, which ranked No. 6 nationally. Aleix Perry batted a team-leading .318 with 21 hits and 15 RBIs in 2020. Former Oklahoma All-American pitcher Paige Parker joined the Tulsa program this season as an assistant coach.