We’re approaching the opening weekend of the 2023 college softball season. D1softball.com’s Tara Henry sat down with us to break down the upcoming season and preview all that is in store. Henry broke down the top five teams in D1softball’s preseason top 25 rankings, headlines and storylines for this season, player of the year candidates, under-the-radar teams and squads she thinks might make a run for it this season. Let’s get into it.
Oklahoma just might be able to 3-peat
“Just might” doesn’t even do it justice. The Oklahoma Sooners took home their second consecutive national championship in 2022. They were led by the new NCAA home run record holder: Jocelyn Alo. Alo has moved on from college softball, and typically you’d think the Sooners would be hurting with that caliber of a loss, not to mention losing their ace, Hope Trautwein, as well. But no. Not even close. The Sooners return D1softball’s No. 1 overall player in Tiare Jennings, they have 10 players overall on the list of 100, and a slew of transfers.
“I can’t say enough about the Sooners. Can they 3-peat? I absolutely believe it,” Henry said. “You look at a healthy Jordy Bahl coming back in this season, obviously Alex Storako, and I don’t think we talk enough about Nicole May. She is kind of the quiet one in the circle but she just knows how to get it done. Also, Haley Lee and Cydney Sanders jumping into that line up with Jennings, the No. 1 player in Division I softball.”
Storako transferred to Oklahoma from Michigan — in the two full campaigns since the 2020 season, Storako compiled a 47-11 record, 1.44 ERA and 570 strikeouts in 346.1 innings.
OU won’t have to worry about slugging with the addition of Sanders. The reigning Pac-12 Freshman of the Year slugged .952 with 21 home runs, 63 RBI and a .566 on-base percentage as a freshman at Arizona State. Lee also transferred in from Texas A&M after batting .422 with 25 home runs and 51 RBI as a junior then closed out 2022 with a .405 batting average, 15 home runs and 45 RBI while guiding the Aggies to the 2022 NCAA Norman Regional.
This is on top of players like Grace Lyons, Kinzie Hansen and Jayda Coleman. And in the circle, Storako will join Bahl, who practically took the sport by storm last season before her injury. This team is loaded in literally every category, even after losing the best player in the sport of softball. A 3-peat? It is more than possible.