AUSTIN, Texas – The Texas softball program will open the 2021 campaign at No. 6 in the USA Today /National Fastpitch Coaches Association (NFCA) preseason poll according to a Tuesday release by the organization. Texas also started the COVID-19 shortened 2020 season at sixth before wrapping up its 27-game […]
AUSTIN, Texas – The Texas softball program will open the 2021 campaign at No. 6 in the USA Today/National Fastpitch Coaches Association (NFCA) preseason poll according to a Tuesday release by the organization.
Texas also started the COVID-19 shortened 2020 season at sixth before wrapping up its 27-game slate at 24-3 overall and No. 3 in the final NFCA poll.
So far this preseason, the Longhorns have also been tabbed at No. 7 by USA Softball and No. 9 by D1Softball.
UCLA led the way in the NFCA rankings as the unanimous No. 1, while Washington, Arizona, Oklahoma and LSU rounded out the top five. In order, Texas, Florida, Alabama, Louisiana and Oregon held down slots 6-10.
Texas returns 15 total letter winners from the 2020 squad that finished the COVID-19 abbreviated campaign at 24-3 overall and No. 1 in the final Softball America poll (No. 3 in the NFCA and USA Softball polls), while also leading NCAA Division I in batting average (.376) and doubles (62). In all, nine of those returnees appeared in at least 20 games, including seven that started at least 17 contests. Combined, Texas is returning 75% of the runs, 80% of the hits, 79% of the doubles, 67% of the HR's, 74% of the RBIs, 74% of the walks and 86% of the stolen bases from last season. From a pitching standpoint, the Longhorns are returning three hurlers who combined for 13-of-24 total wins, 15-of-27 total starts, six-of-10 total shutouts and 89-of-173 total innings pitched during the 2020 campaign.
Included among the returnees are 2020 Softball America Shortened Season All-American second baseman junior Janae Jefferson (.554 avg., 41 hits, six doubles, 10 stolen bases), 2020 USA Softball National Player of the Year Preseason Watch List inclusions sophomore pitcher Shea O'Leary (6-0, 1.97 ERA, 10 starts, four complete games, three solo shutouts, 49.2 IP, 33 K's) and junior catcher/infielder Mary Iakopo (.361 avg., 10 extra-base hits, 25 RBIs, 1.059 OPS) as well as senior outfielder Kaitlyn Washington (.457 avg., seven extra-base hits, 11 RBIs), junior utility player Lauren Burke (.453 avg., 12 doubles, four HR's, 20 RBIs), senior outfielder Shannon Rhodes (.364 avg., 28 hits, eight extra-base hits, 13 RBIs, six steals) and freshman pitcher/utility Courtney Day (5-0, 1.00 ERA, 10 appearances, 28 IP, 22 K's, .368 avg., five HR's, 15 RBIs, 1.141 OPS).
The Longhorns have also added eight players, comprised of two transfers and six incoming freshmen, to their now 23-member roster. The transfers include former Ole Miss standout graduate pitcher Molly Jacobsen (19 career wins for the Rebels, 2.53 career ERA, 230 K's in 238 IP) and former Texas Tech freshman utility player Brianna Cantu.
Freshman signees include: Carlee Ratcliff (1B/3B/New Boston, Texas/New Boston High School/Texas Bombers-NTX), Jayden "JJ" Smith (C/1B/Rosenberg, Texas/George Ranch High School/Texas Bombers 18U Gold), Alyssa Washington (SS/IF/Abilene, Texas/Abilene High School/Impact Gold DFW), Jordyn Whitaker (DP/1B/Jacksonville, Texas/Jacksonville High School/Texas Bombers-NTX), Ryleigh White (RHP/Washington Township, N.J./Immaculate Heart Academy/Athletics Mercado) and Bailey Williams (UTL/Murrieta, Calif./Murrieta Valley High School/Corona Angels).