Valerie Cagle

Meet the 2024 AU Pro Softball College Draft Class

Image Courtesy of Clemson Athletics
Savanna Collins
May 14, 2024

Athletes Unlimited Pro Softball revealed its 2024 College Draft Class on Tuesday night.

Fifteen top NCAA softball graduates are invited to continue their softball career in the league’s upcoming seasons following the NCAA Tournament.

Meet the athletes of the 2024 AU Pro Softball College Draft Class.

No. 1 | Valerie Cagle, Pitcher, Clemson

Valerie Cagle is the ultimate two-way player who has been a cornerstone of the Clemson Softball program since its inception. She signed with the Tigers as part of the inaugural class in 2020 and has been making a name for the young program since.

Cagle is the reigning USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year, D1 Softball Player of the Year, and Rawlings Gold Glove Award winner.

Her run at the plate and in the circle during the 2023 season was staggering: she led the ACC in RBIs (57), batting average, hits, on-base percentage, slugging percentage, and total bases. As a pitcher, Cagle logged a 1.56 ERA through 38 appearances and 30 starts. In her 193 innings, she struck out 188 batters and kept opponents to a .182 average.

She fashioned eight solo shutouts and pitched the first perfect game in program history in a five-inning outing against Mercer on March 8, 2023. Cagle is a three-time NFCA All-American with two First Team nods and two-time ACC Player of the Year. She is in the program records books for:

  • Home runs (19)
  • Walks drawn (36)
  • Hits (83)

No. 2 | Maya Brady, Outfield, UCLA

Maya Brady has been one of the most highly-touted players in college softball since she arrived at UCLA and for good reason. Although her debut in 2020 was cut short due to the pandemic, she was still named the Softball America Freshman Player of the Year after leading the team in home runs and tying for first in RBIs.

The shortstops’ senior year has been no different; Brady started in 47 games and leads the Bruins in batting average (.403), hits (58), home runs (15), and RBIs (61).

She is now the back-to-back Pac-12 Player of the Year after the honors were announced for the 2024 season. She is also a two-time NFCA First Team All-American and the 2023 Pac-12 batting champion for her .456 average.

She launched her 67th career home run in the last regular season series, shifting to second place in UCLA history for the long ball.

No. 3 | Tiare Jennings, Infield, Oklahoma

Tiare Jennings knows about winning the Women’s College World Series. The three-time NCAA champion has been a starter for four seasons for the Sooners in the middle infield.

She’s been named to the WCWS All-Tournament Team twice and holds multiple records at the WCWS including:

  • Career record for RBIs (29)
  • Single-tournament record for RBIs (15)
  • Home runs (5) (joining teammate Jocelyn Alo at the 2022 WCWS)
  • Single-game record for most total bases (11)

Her affinity for knocking in her teammates ranks 10th in NCAA single-season history. She currently sits at 92 RBIs total. Jennings is a three-time NFCA All-American First Team selection and was a Top 10 Finalist for the 2023 USA Softball Player of the Year.

No. 4 | Jayda Coleman, Outfield, Oklahoma

Jayda Coleman is another stellar Sooner who has collected three rings in her collegiate career. 

The 2023 Big 12 Player of the Year has earned NFCA First Team All-American honors three times and was a 2023 USA Softball Player of the Year Top 10 Finalist.

Last season she was one of the offensive leaders for Oklahoma, pacing the team in runs (71), walks (41), HBP (8), and stolen bases (16). She also tied for the team lead with a single-season-best 17 home runs. She has been a starter for the Sooners all four years and has commanded the outfield from centerfield the last three seasons. Coleman is currently ranked nationally in:

  • 14th – On-base percentage (.526)
  • 13th – Runs (62)
  • 11th – Walks (45)

No. 5 | Payton Gottshall, Pitcher, Tennessee

Payton Gottshall has been a force for the Volunteers after transferring to Tennessee for the 2023 season. Gottshall came from Bowling Green where she was the Mid-American Conference Pitcher of the Year in 2022. During that season, she ranked second in the country in strikeouts (374) and innings pitched (253.1).

The left has continued to excel since joining the Vols and facing Southeastern Conference competition. In her senior season, she went 16-2 in the circle with a team-leading 29 appearances, 19 starts, and a team-best three saves. Gottshall finished her first year with the Vols with a 1.65 ERA, notching 130 strikeouts and keeping opponents to a .161 batting average.

This year she tossed her fifth complete game of the season on March 25 and was one of the top pitchers across the NCAA. Her 1.25 ERA is eighth-best nationally and the measly .174 average opponents have against her is 15th-best in the country.

No. 6 | Skylar Wallace, Infield, Florida

Skylar Wallace entered her redshirt senior year with high expectations after being named the 2023 SEC Player of the Year and NFCA Player of the Year. It’s safe to say that she has risen to the occasion yet again.

She’s the first Florida player in program history to earn NFCA Player of the Year honors and broke multiple records in her award-winning season. Wallace set the UF single-season records in batting average (.447), slugging percentage (.980), and on-base percentage (.595). Those stats also ranked nationally, including slugging percentage (1st), on-base percentage (4th), triples (2nd), and runs per game (3rd).

The previous year in her junior season, Wallace put together historic numbers as the only known player in NCAA DI history to post at least 70 hits, 70 runs, 50 RBI, and 50 stolen bases in a single season. Before Florida, she spent two years playing for Alabama.

This season she continues to be one of the best batters in the country with a .550 on-base percentage (5th), 81 runs (1st), .785 slugging percentage (28th), 59 RBIs (tied for 16th), and 32 stolen bases (tied for 10th).

No. 7 | Karli Spaid, Outfield, Miami (Ohio)

Karli Spaid’s name is scattered across Miami Redhawks, Mid-American Conference (MAC), and NCAA record books after her historic senior season. 

Spaid ranks second in NCAA history with 103 career home runs, only trailing the long-ball queen Jocelyn Alo’s 122 career total. She can break the single-season record for homers this year when the Redhawks compete in the NCAA Tournament. Spaid’s 36 home runs are just one behind Laura Espinoza (37, 1995) for the single-season DI record. 

She owns the MAC record with 267 career hits and 253 RBIs and ranks second in Miami history with 56 stolen bases. Her 37 home runs in 2024 broke the MAC single-season record. She held the previous high with 28.

She currently leads the NCAA in home runs (36), home runs per game (.65), runs scored (72), runs scored per game (1.38), slugging percentage (1.151), and OPS percentage (1.687).

No. 8 | Jessica Mullins, Pitcher, Texas State

Jessica Mullins just keeps on winning. She currently leads DI Softball in the stat category amongst all pitchers with 30 wins in the circle this season.

She’s led Texas State to their 45-13 record through her 44 appearances and 229.1 innings pitched. The righty logged a 1.31 ERA, held opponents to a 1.88 batting average, and racked up 213 strikeouts. Throughout the 2024 season, she’s compiled 16 complete games, eight shutouts, and threw a perfect game against the University of Texas at El Paso.

Mullins is a three-time NFCA All-Central region honoree, three-time pick for the All-Sun Belt First Team player, and the 2022 Sun Belt Pitcher of the Year.

No. 9 | Kinzie Hansen, Catcher, Oklahoma

Kinzie Hansen has been the core of Oklahoma’s battery as the starting catcher since 2020. She has a career fielding percentage of .992 with 116 putouts and only 10 errors. This season, she has a .421 average with a .675 slugging percentage.

Hansen was the 2023 Johnny Bench Award winner for the best catcher in college softball and is also a two-time NFCA All-American selection, one of which was a First Team nod. She ranks among OU’s career home run leaders with 57 through the 2024 season. On February 11, 2021, she tied the single-game program record for hits with five against the University of Texas at El Paso.

The catcher competed for Team USA at the 2022 Japan All-Star Series and earned a gold medal at the 2022 World Games where she hit .417 (5-for-12) with two doubles, an RBI, and seven runs scored.

No. 10 | Lexi Kilfoyl, Pitcher Oklahoma State

Lexi Kilfoyl has been Oklahoma State’s ace this season, posting a 21-3 record. She’s made 32 appearances in the circle for the Cowgirls with 14 complete games. Her stat line boasts a 1.13 ERA and 119 strikeouts.

Her ERA is the fourth-best in the country and her opponent’s batting average (.171) and wins rank in the top 20 in D1 Softball. Kilfoly has been honored as an NFCA Third-Team All-America selection, two-time NFCA All-Region honoree, and 2023 All-Big 12 Second-Team pick.

No. 11 | Erin Coffel, Infield, Kentucky

Erin Coffel was one of the most anticipated returners for Kentucky Softball this season after a second-team All-American season in 2023. The shortstop leads the NCAA in walks and walks per game. She hit .440 with 19 home runs and 55 RBIs. She ranks second on Kentucky’s career home run list. Her performance qualified her as a finalist for the USA Softball National Player of the Year Top 25.

She took over the No. 1 spot in the Wildcat’s career record books for RBIs (212) and home runs (68), passing Abbey Cheek in both categories.

Coffel is a team leader offensively again this season with a .336 batting average, 45 hits, 12 doubles, and 13 home runs. Her on-base percentage (.541) is 7th in DI softball right now.

No. 12 | Kelly Maxwell, Pitcher, Oklahoma

Kelly Maxwell has made the most of the final year of her college career. The graduate student transfer has been a staple in the circle for the Sooners, leading the team in wins (18), appearances (28), starts (19), and innings pitched (114.1). Across her 18-2 record, Maxwell has struck out 119 batters and held opponents to a .177 average.

Before transferring to Oklahoma, Maxwell competed for OSU where she was a two-time NFCA All-American and the 2022 Big 12 Conference Pitcher of the Year. In 2022, she posted 20 complete games, 12 shutouts, and three saves. She struck out the fifth-most batters across the NCAA while her 12 shutouts ranked third nationally.

No. 13 | Sharlize Palacios, Catcher, UCLA

Sharlize Palacios is another draftee who brings prowess behind the plate as a catcher and power in the box. The Bruin is a three-time All-Pac-12 Conference selection, two-time Pac-12 All-Defensive Team honoree, and three-time NFCA All-West Region pick.

She transferred to UCLA after three seasons at Arizona State. In her first season with the Bruins, she started 45 games including 33 at catcher. She led the squad with a .990 fielding percentage (three errors in 286 chances). 

Most recently, Palacios was named the Pac-12 tournament’s Most Oustanding Player for her clutch solo shot that lifted the Bruins to a 2-1 victory and the conference title against No. 6 Utah. This season she’s batting .371 and slugging .790. She is tied for the team lead in home runs with Maya Brady with 15.

No. 14 | Ashley Miller, Pitcher, Northwestern

Northwestern landed Ashley Miller as a graduate student transfer this season and she has been clutch for the Wildcats in the circle. Miller leads the pitching staff with her 16-5 record and a 1.33 ERA that’s best in the conference. She’s struck out 167 batters across 152.1 innings pitched with 15 complete games and five shutouts. 

Her performance this season earned her Big Ten Pitcher of the Year honors. She’s the fourth Wildcat in program history. She is the conference leader in ERA, the 11th-best mark in the nation, and averages 4.02 hits allowed per seven innings (seventh in the country).

Miller comes from Michigan State where she spent the first three years of her college career.

No. 15 | Claire Davidson, Outfield, Duke

Claire Davidson is the 2024 ACC Player of the Year after recording the best season of her collegiate career. She paces the Blue Devils in batting average (.428), home runs (17), doubles (18), RBIs (61), and a 1.439 OPS, the best numbers of her career in almost every offensive category.

Her .908 slugging percentage is the seventh-best in the NCAA. Over an 11-game stretch from March 28 to April 13, she hit eight home runs and batted in 21 runs.

Davidson holds Duke’s single-season RBI record and led them to their first ACC regular season title this year, the ACC Conference Championship, and a program record 44 wins in the regular season.

More about AU Pro Softball

The fifth season of AU Pro Softball will return to Parkway Bank Sports Complex in Rosemont, Illinois this summer. Tickets for the Championship Season and AUX in Wichita, Kansas are on sale now.

Savanna Collins is the Digital Media Reporter at Athletes Unlimited. You can follow her on Twitter @savannaecollins.

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