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Wayne Cavadi | NCAA.com | February 11, 2022

Keep an eye on these returning home run hitters in the 2022 DII softball season

DII softball preview: What to look forward to in the 2022 season

The DII softball season is upon us. While teams are beginning to rack up wins in early season tournaments, let's not forget that we all love to see those star student-athletes launch the ball out of the park. We've previewed several teams to start the season, but let us turn our attention to those players that are best in the art of the home run. 

2022 SEASON PREVIEW: Top 5 and way-too-early look at Denver | 5 teams to watch

Top 5 active home run leaders in DII softball

(All stats through Feb. 10, 2022, via NCAA.org official site.)

Elexis Watson, Rogers State

Watson is the current active leader heading into 2022. She’s made a name for herself with two programs. Watson began her career with Southeastern Oklahoma State where she slugged 16 home runs in 2018 and took home GAC freshman of the year honors the same season. She left the Savage Storm with 29 career home runs before bringing her power to the MIAA and Rogers State, where she has slugged 16 more in her two seasons (with 2020 being cut short due to COVID-19). She is also the active leader in total bases with 390. Watson already has added one home run in the 2022 season and has 46 total in her career.

BACK ON TOP: West Texas A&M wins the 2021 DII softball championship 

Jordyn Thomas, Minnesota Duluth

The Bulldogs' slugging first baseman exploded onto the scene with 15 home runs in her rookie 2018 campaign and has yet to relent. Perhaps what is so impressive with that freshman debut was she missed 13 games competing for the Minnesota Duluth women’s basketball team. She slowly turned her sole focus to bashing softballs and has hit 28 over the past three seasons to move into second among active sluggers at 43 entering 2022. Thomas has already added one more in her first five games.

HISTORY: The programs with the most DII softball championships

Kiara Akles, Alabama Huntsville

The two-way athlete is a prime reason we named the Chargers an under-the-radar team to watch this preseason. Not only has she gone 29-11 in the circle since her 2018 debut, she’s also slugged 42 home runs, good for the third-highest mark entering 2022. She ripped 14 home runs in her rookie season to win co-freshman of the year honors in the GSC. Akles led the team in home runs in 2020 and 2021 and already has launched one in four games this season.

POWER 10 RANKINGS: The way-too-early DII softball rankings for 2022

Mary Pardo, Augustana (SD)

Pardo was one of our preseason candidates for player of the year. She has been a steady force for Augustana since 2019. That year, she slugged 17 home runs, won the NSIC freshman of the year while Augustana became national champions in a remarkable 61-win season. Last year, Pardo slugged 20 home runs in leading the Vikings back to the national semifinals. She has 41 home runs entering 2022 and while she already has three extra-base hits this season, she’s still searching for her first home run.

Kayson Boatner, Anderson (SC)

The Trojans infielder has already launched three home runs this season, tying her with Pardo on the current list with 41 over her career. Boatner had an impressive freshman campaign, launching 15 home runs in the 2019 season while earning first-team All-SAC honors. She was third in DII with nine home runs when play came to a screeching halt in 2020 and got back on track with 14 last season. That is just a model of consistency from the Trojans’ slugger.

The next five:

  • Caitlyn Curlee, Southern Nazarene: 38 home runs
  • Ruby Salzman, West Texas A&M: 37 home runs
  • Ashley Perez, UT Tyler: 35 home runs
  • Kaylee Jones, UVA Wise: 34 home runs
  • Alexis Miles, UVA Wise and Hannah Towery, Newberry (tie): 33 home runs

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