Texas Softball 2020 Preview

Under the leadership of Mike White the Longhorns finished last season with a 46-17 overall record while going 12-6 in the Big 12 Conference. For the last several years the Big 12 has been ruled by Texas rival Oklahoma and last season Oklahoma State showed that they were ready for the big time too with their trip to the WCWS. Defending Big 12 champions Oklahoma earned the top spot in the 2020 Big 12 preseason coaches’ poll with 36 total points while Texas was picked to finish second with 29 points, followed by Oklahoma State with 27 points. This year though Texas seems poised to take a run at knocking Oklahoma off of their perch at the top.

This years Longhorns have eleven returners to their team. Those returning players accounted for 82% of the team’s runs and 93% of their hits last season from Longhorn players like juniors Mary Iakopo (.356 avg., 57 hits, five doubles, 11 HR’s, 29 walks, 43 RBIs) and second baseman Janae Jefferson (.408 avg., 80 hits, six doubles, 11 walks, 10 steals, 23 RBIs) along with senior outfielder Kaitlyn Washington (.297 avg., 47 hits, 14 doubles, four HR’s. 36 RBIs).

The Longhorns also have things covered in the pitching circle with the return of senior ace Miranda Elish (18-10, 1.81 ERA, 29 starts, 20 complete games, 11 solo shutouts, 226 K’s, 185.1 IP) and sophomore phenom pitcher Shealyn O’Leary (14-3, NCAA Division I-leading 0.65 ERA, 14 starts, four solo shutouts, 65 K’s, 97.2 IP).

Texas also has some new talent that joins the team this season including UCLA transfer catcher/first baseman Colleen Sullivan. The team’s five freshmen are, Camille Corona (IF/Dripping Springs, Texas/Dripping Springs High School/Texas Bombers & Blaze United), Courtney Day (P/UTL/Pearland, Texas/Dawson H.S./Aces Express Gold McCorkle) Grace Green (LHP/North Richland Hills, Texas/Birdville High School/Team Mizuno Impulse), London Marder (C-UTIL/Humble, Texas/Atascocita High School/Scrap Yard Internationals) and Alyssa Popelka (IF-UTIL/Austin, Texas/Westwood High School/Texas Premier Fastpitch).

Texas will have a tough schedule in 2020 besides battling in their conference they will be going up against powerhouses like, Alabama, UCLA, Louisiana-Lafayette, Michigan and Washington.

The Longhorns came within one win of making it to the WCWS last year. If the team plays up to their potential they should be able to make another deep run in this year’s 2020 championship playoffs.

Tennessee softball 2020 preview

Longtime Lady Vols co-head coaches Ralph and Karen Weekly each season put a team on the field that pull on its younger players to over perform as the formula for their success. Those new players this year will hopefully fill the holes left by the graduation of team members, Aubrey Leach, Haley Bearden and pitcher Matty Moss, who was a team leader both from the pitching circle or cheering from the dugout. They also lost the talents of starting pitcher Caylan Arnold who transferred to Florida State.

This year’s Lady Vols includes eight of those fresh faces including, Anna Fox, Kiki Milloy, KK McCrary, Josie Willingham, Amanda Curran, Callie Turner, Anna Hazelwood and Madison Webber.

They also get Ally Shipman returning from her injury filled season last year to handle catching duties and give the team another strong offensive bat. Also coming off of a great freshman campaign pitcher Ashley Rogers will be taking over as the teams undisputed #1 pitcher. They also hope that freshman Callie Turner can come right in and claim the #2 pitching spot replacing the loss of Arnold.

On offense besides the returning offensive power of Shipman the Lady Vols have several returning players including senior Chelsea Seggern who lead the team last year in doubles with sixteen along with 46RBIs and Kaitlin Parsons also returns with a .418 on base hitting percentage.

Tennessee’s game is one of small ball and timely hits with good pitching and the occassional long ball. They have been able to make it work for many years having been in the post season tournament seventeen times but haven’t made it to the WCWS since 2015.

Once again the Lady Vols look like a lock to make it in to this years tournament but can they break that WCWS appearance dry streak? I don’t think so. I think they’ll make a nice run come tournament time but are still one or two players short, including another ace pitcher, to make it to this year’s big show in Oklahoma City.