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Michella Chester | NCAA.com | February 9, 2022

15 top college softball pitchers to watch in 2022

College softball season preview: Top pitchers to watch in 2022

Every year, without fail, we take a look at the top college softball pitchers that we will see leading their teams and chasing the WCWS. With the 2022 season starting on Feb. 10, we are here to deliver you just that. 

There are so many returning stars and some incredibly talented freshmen, so we can’t get them all and picked just one pitcher per team. But, here are some of the incredible arms we should see leading their teams this season. 

2022 WCWS: Two days added to the Women's College World Series

15 top college softball pitchers to watch in 2022

Montana Fouts — Alabama

I am going to start with one of the biggest names of all on this list and that is Montana Fouts at Alabama. The 2021 NFCA Pitcher of the Year returns after leading the NCAA with 349 strikeouts last season. You cannot say enough about Fouts. You might remember the iconic game where she tossed a no-hitter against UCLA in the Women’s College World Series last season, the first perfect game on that stage since 2000. Fouts finished the 2021 season ranked in the top five in strikeouts per seven, she finished with a 1.61 ERA and ranked in the top 10 with 10 shutouts. Quite the ace coming back to 'Bama.

Kathryn Sandercock — Florida State

Kathryn Sandercock will return to FSU after she led her team to the title series at the WCWS last season. Sandercock ranked in the top 15 with a 1.25 ERA last season and finished tied for fifth in the nation in wins with Fouts. She pitched 31 innings in the WCWS last season and is back for more at FSU. 

Gabbie Plain — Washington

Gabbie Plain returns for Washington and is another no-brainer for this list. The Pac-12 Pitcher of the Year finished as a top-3 finalist for USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year. She led the NCAA with 32 victories last season and finished tied for third in the nation with 10 shutouts. Plain also finished third in the NCAA strikeouts with 337, behind Fouts and Keely Rochard. 

Ashley Rogers — Tennessee

Volunteers ace Ashley Rogers makes this list after she finished the 2021 season as the SEC leader in ERA (1.32), opposing batting average and innings pitched. She ranked fifth in the NCAA in strikeouts with 296, seventh in wins, and in the top 15 in shutouts. Maybe most impressively, though, her 3.19 hits allowed per seven innings ranked third in the country. Rogers makes up one of four SEC pitchers included here.

Mary Haff — Arkansas

Mary Haff will return to Arkansas after an incredible season in the circle. The 2021 SEC Co-pitcher of the Year with Fouts finished seventh in wins in the NCAA with 26 and seventh in saves with five. She was such a big part of this program's ascension last season as they put Arkansas on the map. Haff became the first Arkansas pitcher to earn First Team All-American honors and the first pitcher in Razorback history to earn SEC Pitcher of the Year honors.

Megan Faraimo — UCLA

At UCLA, you lose Rachel Garcia this season, one of the best two-way players in the history of college softball, but Megan Faraimo returns. She led the Bruins last season with a 19-3 record, eight shutouts, 23 complete games, 184 strikeouts in 133.1 innings pitched and a Pac-12-best 1.10 earned run average. That ERA ranked in the top 10 in the NCAA, she finished tied for 13th in the country in shutouts and sixth in the nation in walks allowed per seven innings with just 13 and seventh in hits allowed per seven. 

Kelly Maxwell — Oklahoma State

Kelly Maxwell returns to Oklahoma State after striking out 147 batters and walking only 34 in 116.0 innings in 2021. She helped lead her team to the WCWS and limited opposing hitters to a .174 batting average. Carrie Eberle played a huge role last season for the Cowgirls but Maxwell will likely be their ace this season alongside Texas transfer, Miranda Elish. The only reason why Elish is not on this list is because we haven't seen her in over a year, but the renowned two-way player and All American will be a huge factor for Oklahoma State this season.. and the Cowgirls have some serious depth in the circle. 

Valerie Cagle — Clemson

Here is another big-time player to watch out for this season. Valerie Cagle burst onto the scene last season as a two-way player. She did not earn a loss in the circle in her last nine appearances of the season and finished the season with a 1.16 ERA that ranked among the best in the NCAA. She ranked 11th in strikeouts as well, eighth in shutouts and fourth in wins all in her freshman season. Not to mention she can rake as well. 

Keely Rochard — Virginia Tech

Keely Rochard at Virginia Tech returns after winning 2021 ACC Pitcher of the Year. Rochard dominated in the circle and finished the season with a 1.38 ERA and finished in the top three in the NCAA in shutouts, strikeouts and wins. Her 348 strikeouts were second in the nation behind Fouts. 

Elizabeth Hightower — Florida

At Florida, Elizabeth Hightower returns for 2022. She is not ranked in as many national categories statistically as some of the other players on this list, but will be an ace for a top-10 or top-15 team heading into 2022. She finished 2021 with a 1.61 ERA and ranked third in the SEC in opponent batting average. 

Jordyn Bahl — Oklahoma

Alright, we have our one and only freshman on this list, because Jordyn Bahl just might be a no-doubt pitcher to watch this season. The reigning national champion Oklahoma Sooners won the title with a deep pitching staff last season, but they lose G Juarez and Shannon Saile this season. Nicole May returns after making a big difference last season and pitching in the WCWS, but it just might be Bahl, the incoming freshman and reigning 2020-21 Gatorade National Softball Player of the Year that you should look out for this season. In high school, she posted a 27-0 record with a 0.10 ERA while striking out 316 batters. This is just high school, I know, but STILL. According to D1softball's fall report on the Sooners, Patty Gasso said that she is afraid of nothing and no one, and is quite different than any freshman she has ever seen. She was compared to likes of Keilani Ricketts and Paige Parker, but Gasso thinks Bahl will be one that figures it all out even quicker. She said their hitters are frustrated, which says a lot coming from one of the most explosive offensive teams we have ever seen. 

Georgina Corrick — South Florida

Georgina Corrick returns to USF with all sorts of accolades. She finished 2021 ranked top-5 in the nation with a 0.98 ERA. Just think about that ERA, which is the lowest on this entire list of pitchers. She also finished last season ranked fourth in strikeouts with 333 and first in the nation in shutouts with 15. She broke her conference record with 34 shutouts and took home conference player of the year. Corrick has put up quite the numbers so far. 

Brooke Yanez — Oregon

Brooke Yanez returns at Oregon after finishing second in the Pac-12 and 10th in the NCAA with 268 strikeouts. She is the ace on a gritty Oregon team that was able to pull off some big-time wins last season and came so close to making it to the WCWS. Yanez went 22-6 with a 2.11 ERA while holding opponents to a .185 batting average in her 182.1 innings of work. She also posted seven shutouts and tossed 14 complete games.

Danielle Williams — Northwestern

Danielle Williams is back at Northwestern and has been dominant in the circle since her NFCA Freshman of the Year campaign in 2019. She opened last season with a 30.0 inning scoreless streak and I am excited to see her start this season. She tossed seven shutouts and four seven-inning shutouts last season as well as 191 strikeouts.

Alex Storako — Michigan

Last, but very very certainly not least, Alex Storako at Michigan. When I say certainly not least, I mean it. Storako was the unanimous Big Ten Pitcher of the Year in 2021. She led the nation with a 12.9 strikeout-per-seven-innings average, ranked fourth nationally with hits allowed per seven innings, finished in the top 10 in strikeouts and in ERA (1.05). That ERA is behind only Corrick on this list. Michigan has quite the duo on their pitching staff with Meghan Beaubian as well. She posted a 1.24 ERA last season. 

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