After three weeks of college softball, one thing is clear, buckle up because this may be a wild ride. We have already had two changes at the number one spot, albeit one team has been there twice. Pitching depth is an issue for many teams. Parity is coming to NCAA softball, and the ACC looks strong.
What happened to Florida? They came out of the gate strong but also played a weak schedule. Their first 11 opponents had a combined record of 51-65 and outscored them 118-16. Last weekend they went 1-3 facing two ranked and power five teams losing by a combined score of 18-0 against ranked opponents. What happened from last season to this season, and should there be concern amongst Gator fans? In those games, the bats fell silent and mustered just one hit over two games. At the same time, the pitching staff gave up 30 hits over those same games. The season is early, and the Gators still have the same, if not more, talent than they did a year ago. They will need to show more consistency at the plate and in the circle but give them some time, and they should be in the hunt come May.
Florida State remains scrappy as ever. They are 3-2 against top-25 opponents losing to UCLA and Alabama. Katie Dack (.432) and Jahni Kerr (.375) have been on fire. Kaley Mudge (.373), Kalei Harding (.367), and Hallie Wacaser (.366) are proving consistency at the plate can pay off. The pitching staff has been solid, posting a 1.96 ERA with 122 strikeouts this season. Kathryn Sandercock (1.55) has been everything the Noles expected. Newcomer Makenna Reid (1.47) has impressed and looks like the next big pitcher out of FSU. They will be tested in a few weeks when they face Oklahoma and Oklahoma State in Norman, OK.
There were high expectations for UCF this spring heading into the season, but a 9-8 start may have some people nervous. They have decent power numbers belting 20 long balls through the first 17 games. They will need several to step up and hit consistently to generate more offense. They have seven pitchers who have already seen time. The issue is nobody is doing much to separate themselves. If the Knights are to make s run again this season, they will have to have one or two pitchers step up into that Ace role. They should be in good shape come late spring if they can do that.
Rankings could be better. It is early, so only look a little into it, but after reviewing all the current rankings available, they make no sense outside of about six or seven spots. Rankings are fluid and should reflect the season and games being played, not a prediction of the future or a reward for past performance (past seasons). That is just our opinion. Rankings, in the end, do not mean anything, but they should make some kind of sense. Hopefully, as more games are played, they will make more sense.
Here are some fun numbers across the NCAA softball universe for our statistic junkies. Sydney McKinney of Wichita State leads the nation in average (.708) and hits (34). Jordyn VanHook (Arizona State) leads the country in homers with eight. Bailey Klingler (Washington) is currently the toughest player in the country to strike out. Kentucky hurler Stephanie Schoonover leads all in shutouts with six. Finally, UCLA pitcher Megan Faraimo has already struck out 91 batters. This week should be just as interesting as the past three.