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Brenden Welper | NCAA.com | April 29, 2021

9 pitchers to watch down the stretch of the 2021 DII softball season

New Haven Athletics New Haven softball

Time is running out on the regular season. Several conference champions have already been crowned, and the 2021 DII softball championship is less than a month away.

With that in mind, here are nine pitchers to keep your eye on down the stretch.

To qualify for this list, players must've pitched at least 100 innings. Statistics are accurate through April 27. Pitchers are listed in alphabetical order.

Alyssa Callans, Maryville (MO)

Maryville Athletics Maryville's Alyssa Callans.

If Alyssa Callans' name sounds familiar, it's probably because she threw back-to-back no-hitters in early March. Those performances weren't flukes. Callans is now 14-5, and her 0.82 ERA is the lowest among players that have pitched a minimum of 100 innings. She's also struck out 149 batters in 124.1 innings of work.

Ava Fitzmaurice, New Haven

Not only is Ava Fitzmaurice 15-1 this season, she's also 4-0 in save situations. The junior has a 0.92 ERA in 114.1 innings of work. Of the 420 batters she's faced, Fitzmaurice has only walked 11. The Charger has thrown 13 complete games and 64 strikeouts in 2021. 

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Hallie Waters, UIndy

Is there a better pitching duo than Hallie Waters and Kenzee Smith of UIndy? Let's start with Waters, who is 17-2 on the season with a 1.20 ERA. Opposing batters are hitting just .161 against the senior, who has a team-high 130 strikeouts. Waters is also 1-0 in save situations this season.

Hanna Houge, Erskine

No player has more strikeouts in 2021 than Houge, who has fanned 249 batters. Sure, she's pitched more innings than anyone else in the country with 184.0. But Houge still has 35 more strikeouts than the pitcher who ranks second — Minnesota State's Mackenzie Ward. The Erskine senior is also 21-5 with a 1.94 ERA. 

Kali Crandall, Oklahoma Christian

Oklahoma Christian Athletics Kali Crandall of Oklahoma Christian.

Kali Crandall is 22-1 this season, and those 22 wins are the most for a pitcher in DII. She's thrown 12 complete games and currently has an ERA of 1.80. Opponents are hitting just .190 against Crandall, and have struck out 143 times. The ace has surrendered just 27 earned runs in 134.2 innings of work. 

Kelsey Byers, Malone

Kelsey Byers has a 20-6 record and is one of four players that've reached the 20-win plateau in 2021. The junior's 205 strikeouts rank third in the country, and she's thrown 20 complete games. Byers' 160.0 innings pitched are second to only Erskine's Hanna Houge (184.0).

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Kenzee Smith, UIndy

The other half of UIndy's dominant duo is Kenzee Smith, whose 0.93 ERA is the second-lowest for any pitcher that has thrown at least 100 innings this season. The freshman is 16-1 and has struck out 126 batters. Opponents are hitting .153 against Smith, and have amassed just eight extra-base hits (seven doubles and one home run) in 391 at-bats. 

Mackenzie Ward, Minnesota State

You already know that Mackenzie Ward has the second-most strikeouts in DII with 214. But her 0.93 ERA also ranks second, although she is tied with the aforementioned Kenzee Smith. Ward is 16-3 on the hill and has thrown 14 complete games. Opponents are hitting .153 against the Maverick this season. 

Samantha Richards, Valdosta State

Samantha Richards is 21-2 with a 1.19 ERA in 2021. Her 178 strikeouts are tied with Rogers State's Andrea Morales for the fifth-most in DII. She's thrown 17 complete games and is holding opposing batters to .175 at the plate. In 135.2 innings of work, Richards only has 18 earned runs.

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