The elite level of competition in collegiate softball is on full display as teams gear up for regionals later this month. From those stellar programs, 14 eligible seniors were selected as members of the 2023 Softball College Draft Class.
Meet the 14 athletes invited to make their pro debut with Athletes Unlimited.
No. 1 | Sydney McKinney, Middle Infielder, Wichita State
Sydney McKinney has rewritten WSU’s record books throughout her decorated career.
In 2022, McKinney set Shocker program records for:
- Single Season Batting Average: .522
- Single Season Hits: 97
- Single Season Runs: 69
This year she broke through as the first Shocker player to reach 300 career hits and also moved up the NCAA record books with her 34-game hitting streak. It stands as the sixth longest in NCAA history. She’s batting .533 (43-8), the best average in collegiate softball right now.
She is a Top 10 Finalist for USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year.
NAME. A. BETTER. SHORTSTOP.
You can't. Sydney McKinney is HER.
— Wichita State Softball (@GoShockersSB) April 23, 2023
No. 2 | Megan Faraimo, Right-Handed Pitcher, UCLA
Megan Faraimo made her mark on the UCLA program from the moment she joined the squad. She was named the Pac-12 Freshman of the Year in 2019 and has continued to collect accolades since. Just this week, Faraimo was named a a Top 10 Finalist for Player of the Year.
Faraimo is a two-time NFCA All-American (First Team selection in 2021, Second Team in 2022) and was the Pac-12 Pitcher of the Year in 2022. Her name is etched into the UCLA record books for:
- Single-season saves (7)
- Third on UCLA’s career strikeouts list (968)
- Tied for sixth on UCLA’s career wins list (96)
In her senior campaign, she has the most victories of any pitcher in the NCAA; Faraimo is 26-2 on the season. She’s also ranked nationally in ERA with 1.15 (10th) and strikeouts with 208 (8th).
Faraimo was named to the USA Softball Women’s National Team for the WBSC World Cup, which will be held July 11-15 in Dublin, Ireland.
🏆 2019 Pac-12 Freshman of the Year & returning All-American
🐻 2nd in program history with the most solo perfect games & total perfect games
🥇 Pac-12 Leader in Ks, saves & appearances
— Pac-12 Conference (@pac12) May 11, 2022
No. 3 | Kayla Kowalik, Catcher, Kentucky
The Kentucky star entered her senior season with the Wildcats ranked as the No. 1 catcher in the country by Extra Innings ahead of the 2023 season.
She was named a 2021 NFCA First-Team All-American after logging the best batting average in the NCAA with a .495 average and 100 total hits on the season.
Kowalik holds multiple UK records, including:
- Career runs scored (255)
- Career triples (24)
- Career batting percentage (.426)
- Career hits (344)
— SEC Network (@SECNetwork) May 13, 2021
No. 4 | Montana Fouts, Right-Handed Pitcher, Alabama
Montana Fouts’ career at Alabama has heralded her as one of the greatest pitchers, if not the greatest, in program history.
She was named the NFCA Pitcher of the Year in 2021 and is a three-time All-American. Within the SEC, she’s been recognized as Freshman of the Year (2019), Tournament MVP (2019), and Co-pitcher of the Year (2021).
This season, she leads the country in strikeouts with 277 so far this season.
Fouts was also named to the USA Softball Women’s National Team for the WBSC World Cup. It is her second appearance on Team USA, helping the squad win gold at the 2022 World Games in Birmingham.
— Alabama Softball (@AlabamaSB) April 30, 2023
No. 5 | Kathryn Sandercock, Right-Handed Pitcher, Florida State
Kathryn Sandercock entered her COVID year coming off of a stellar senior campaign. In 2022 she led the team in appearances (44), wins (30), innings pitched (194.1), earned runs allowed (40), walks (30), saves (3), complete games (8), opponent batting average (.189), and ERA (1.44). She also led FSU to the ACC title in 2022.
The pitcher is a two-time NFCA All-America selection and was most recently named a 2023 USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year Top 25 Finalist.
She has tallied 94 career wins for the Seminoles, which ranks fourth in school history. She broke the career and single-season saves school record with 13 and seven, respectively.
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No. 6 | Baylee Klingler, Corner Infielder, Washington
Baylee Klingler cemented herself as one of the best in Pac-12 history after her reign in the conference last year. Klingler was awarded the Pac-12 Triple Crown, becoming the first athlete to earn the honor in the conference since 1999. She led in batting average (.434), home runs (24), and RBIs (71) in the Pac-12, earning the title of 2022 Player of the Year.
Klingler’s home runs are the second-most by a Husky in program history, one behind Kristen Rivera’s 25 total homers in 2003. Her batting average is fifth-highest and RBIs is fourth-most in a single season.
The corner infielder is a two-time NFCA All-America selection and will compete at the WBSC World Cup with Team USA this summer.
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No. 7 | Chenise Delce, Right-Handed Pitcher, Arkansas
Chenise Delce is a right-handed hurler who made an immediate impression for the Razorbacks after transferring to Arkansas in 2022.
She earned the honor of SEC Pitcher of the Year in 2022 and placed herself in the record books last season. Delce ranks in the top 10 in program history for single-season wins (19), saves (3), and shutouts (5), and is second in strikeouts per seven innings with an 8.70 average.
The Second-Team NFCCA All-American is on pace to eclipse her 2022 numbers.
Before transferring, Delce started her career at Tulsa where she was named 2019 American Athletic Conference Rookie of the Year.
CHENISE FREAKIN' DELCE pic.twitter.com/odtDEBYvB4
— Arkansas Razorback Softball (@RazorbackSB) May 2, 2023
No. 8 | Kiley Naomi, Middle Infielder, Oklahoma State
Kiley Naomi is the Cowgirl’s starting shortstop who shines at the plate and on defense. Hailed for her athleticism, Naomi has revitalized her offense throughout 2023.
She’s hit ten home runs this season, the most of any OSU batter this year. She also leads the Big-12 in RBIs with 53 so far.
Through 50 games this season, Naomi is batting .375, which is good for the second-best average on the team and the best of her career.
— NCAA Softball (@NCAASoftball) March 12, 2023
No. 9 | Alex Storako, Right-Handed Pitcher, Oklahoma
Alex Storako is a right-handed pitcher and graduate transfer from Michigan.
As a Wolverine, she posted a 69-20 career record with 901 strikeouts. Her senior year she ranked sixth nationally in strikeouts (300) and 11th in strikeouts per seven innings (10.5). Storako logged a career-best 1.05 ERA in 2021 and was recognized as an NFCA Second-Team All-American.
She’s perfect in the circle for the Sooners this season with a 13-0 record and a 0.80 ERA. Storako’s recorded 85 strikeouts across 70 innings for Oklahoma.
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No. 10 | Yannira Acuña, Outfielder, Arizona State
Yannira Acuña has been a fixture for the Sun Devils since she arrived as a freshman in 2019. In her five years with the program, she currently ranks ninth all-time in doubles with 42, 11th in program history with .357 hitting average, and 15th in program history with 35 home runs.
Acuña was voted Softball America’s 2022 most improved player in a year where she hit the seventh-best batting average (.430) in program history, along with her 19 doubles which tied a program record.
She’s currently hitting a team-best .381 this season.
— NCAA Softball (@NCAASoftball) May 7, 2022
No. 11 | Charla Echols, Corner Infielder, Florida
Charla Echols is an All-American first baseman who commands the hot corner. Echols is in the Gators’ program record books for multiple categories including:
- Single-season sacrifice flies: 10 (1st)
- Career slugging percentage : .762 (1st)
- Career batting average: .389 (3rd)
- Career on-base percentage: .478 (3rd)
She represented the United States at last summer’s World Games, winning a gold medal. Echols is currently ranked fifth nationally in RBIs with 58 on the season.
— Gators Softball (@GatorsSB) April 26, 2023
No. 12 | Haley Lee, Corner Infielder, Oklahoma
Haley Lee has been at the top of her game the past two seasons as a USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year Top-25 finalist in 2021 and 2022. In both seasons she hit above .400 at Texas A&M before transferring to Oklahoma as a graduate transfer.
In her final season as an Aggie, she led the team in most offensive categories, including batting average (.405), runs (54), hits (68), doubles (15), home runs (15), RBIs (45), and walks (50). She also holds program records for:
- Single-season home runs (25)
- Slugging percentage (.955)
For the season, she’s hitting .395 with 12 home runs and 42 RBIs.
— Oklahoma Softball (@OU_Softball) April 28, 2023
No. 13 | Jordyn Rudd, Catcher, Northwestern
Jordyn Rudd is the first-ever recipient of the newly-created Rawlings Gold Glove Award for collegiate softball.
Rudd earned the honor in 2022 after a season behind the plate with a 1.000 fielding percentage on 445 chances and zero errors. That same year she also won the Johnny Bench Award, presented by the Hall of Fame catcher to the best female catcher in the nation.
She’s on track to crack into the top 10 of Northwestern record books for career batting average, RBIs, and doubles.
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No. 14 | Rachel Becker, Middle Infielder, Oklahoma State
Rachel Becker had a decorated career at Purdue before transferring to Oklahoma State for her final season of eligibility.
As a Boilermaker, Becker is the second player in program history to to be named an NFCA All-American. She also holds Purdue’s career runs record with 149 in four seasons.
She led the Big Ten in batting average (.429) for the second-consecutive season and became the second player in Purdue history to hit .400 or better in back-to-back seasons.
Now at OSU, she leads the team in batting average at .462 and ranks ninth nationally in the category. She’s also reached base safely in every single game this season. Her streak of 49 consecutive games is the longest on-base streak in OK State history.
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Horns up for return of Rhodes and Taylor
© Athletes Unlimited, LLC 2023 / Credit: Jade Hewitt Media
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