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Rhiannon Potkey | D1Softball.com | February 8, 2021

2021 American Athletic softball preview: UCF, USF ready to battle for conference crown

All you need to know about the 2021 college softball season

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Projected standings

Rank School
No. 1 UCF
No. 2 South Florida
No. 3 Houston
No. 4 Tulsa
No. 5 Wichita State
No. 6 ECU
No. 7 Memphis

Preseason awards

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 

TOP 25: Previewing the best softball teams heading into the season

Teams to watch

UCF

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.

ALL-AMERICANS: 2021 college softball preseason All-America team

South Florida

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.

South Florida Athletics AnaMarie Bruni of USF softball AnaMarie Bruni of USF softball.

Houston

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.

EXTRA INNINGS: The longest games in WCWS college softball history

Tulsa

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.

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