The big names in softball like Lauren Chamberlain, who holds the NCAA home run record, A.J. Andrews, who became the first woman to win a Rawlings Gold Glove award, and Monica Abbott who struck out 2,440 batters in college, are known for their outstanding accomplishments. The list below is a look at the top five U.S. softball athletes, some who are still at the collegiate level and others who are set to compete in the Olympics.
Rachel Garcia’s 2019 season, where she posted a 1.44 ERA over 202 IP, led her to become the 2019 LA Sports Awards Sportswoman of the Year recipient. That same year she finished with a 29-1 record and struck out 286 batters. Along the way she won the NFCA Pitcher of the Year, Pac-12 Conference Player and Pitcher of the Year awards. These awards and her success on the field led her to being nominated to the USA Softball Team. She redshirted her senior year to train for the Olympics.
In her junior season, Dejah Mulipola won the NFCA Catcher of the Year and Johnny Bench Catcher of the Year awards. Her .311/.468/.766 stat line led her to also becoming a player for the USA Softball Team. She redshirted her senior year to train for the olympics. In 2019, she finished fourth in the NCAA in home runs. She has been named to the All- Pac-12 team and All-Region twice.
After being a member of the USA Softball 18U Team, Giselle Juarez began her collegiate career at Arizona State. She transferred from the Sun Devils to the University of Oklahoma where she shined. In 2019, she became the second player in OU history to throw multiple (two) perfect games in the same season. That year she also ranked second in Oklahoma’s history in two stats: opponent batting average (.151) and strikeouts per seven innings (10.11). She finished that season with a 28-4 record, throwing 186.1 innings and an ERA of 1.39.
As Covid-19 swept the country, it also canceled the 2020 college softball season. Despite a shortened season, Miranda Elish was named Softball America National Player of the Year. Over 84 innings, she struck out 96 batters with a 1.25 ERA. Even though the University of Texas played 27 games, Elish improved from her 2019 season where she had an ERA of 1.81.
“I was super surprised (and) I was super honored because I know that they’re amazing players in college softball, and there are a lot of people who are just as deserving of it as I am,” Elish said in an interview with Aaron Ferguson for The Times. “So just for Softball America to see my performance is worthy of receiving that award, it means a ton.”
Bailey Hemphill’s 2019 season was one for the history books. The first baseman set the University of Alabama’s single-season home run and RBI records, 26 and 85 respectively. That same year, she led the team in average, hits and was named to the First Team All-SEC. Her successful junior season led to her being a USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year finalist.