The college softball offseason is buzzing with exciting transfer signings and coaching additions as teams gear up for the upcoming seasons. Let’s take a closer look at some notable developments that will impact the game.
UCF Knights Secure Redshirt-Junior Infielder Stormy Kotzelnick
The UCF softball team has made a significant addition to their roster with the signing of redshirt-junior infielder Stormy Kotzelnick from Louisiana. Kotzelnick showcased her talent during standout seasons with the Ragin’ Cajuns in 2022 and 2023, boasting an impressive combined batting line of .323/.381/.566 over 118 games. Her contributions, including 104 starts, are expected to bolster the Knights’ lineup. Although her collegiate journey began with the Washington Huskies, Kotzelnick took a redshirt in 2021 and will now bring her skills to UCF.
USF Bulls Bolster Lineup with Four Impactful Transfers
Under the guidance of head coach Ken Eriksen, the University of South Florida (USF) softball program has made significant strides by adding four transfers for the upcoming 2023-24 season. Eriksen expressed his enthusiasm, highlighting these players’ immediate impact on the team’s lineup. Let’s take a closer look at the newcomers:
- Belle Sardja, P, Florida Southwestern State: Belle Sardja’s dominant presence on the mound at Florida Southwestern State caught the attention of USF. In her two years there, Sardja amassed an impressive 41-5 record with nine saves, pitching in 64 games, including 28 complete games. With a career ERA of 1.05, she has proven her prowess as a pitcher. Her notable achievements include multiple NJCAA honors, including being named the NJCAA National Tournament Most Valuable Player and leading her team to consecutive NJCAA National Championships.
- Bailey Drapola, OF, Pitt: Bailey Drapola’s four-year career at Pitt showcased her abilities at the plate. In 122 games, she earned a start in 102 and posted a .292 batting average. Drapola’s contributions include 80 hits, 19 doubles, three triples, and 18 home runs. Her speed on the bases was evident as she matched a program record with four stolen bases in a single game during the 2023 season.
- Maddie Snider, OF, Missouri: Maddie Snider, joining USF from Missouri, brings versatility to the outfield. While at Missouri, Snider demonstrated her prowess on the bases, stealing 22 bags. In 84 plate appearances, she registered 18 hits, including two triples and two home runs. Her ability to contribute both defensively and offensively will be valuable to the Bulls.
- Sam Mallinder, UT, Northern Illinois: Sam Mallinder’s four seasons at Northern Illinois showcased her consistency and all-around skills. With a .295 career batting average, Mallinder amassed 117 hits, including 23 doubles, three triples, and 13 home runs. Her 80 RBIs and 50 runs scored further highlight her impact. Mallinder’s exceptional final season earned her recognition on the NFCA All-Region Third Team and on various academic teams.
Academic Achievements Recognized
Several student-athletes from prominent softball programs have been recognized for their outstanding academic performances. Pal Egan, Kaila Pollard, and Olivia Gigante from the University of Florida were named to the Southeastern Conference First-Year Academic Honor Roll. These accolades reflect their dedication both on and off the field.
Bethune-Cookman Welcomes Abbey Cheek to Coaching Staff
Bethune-Cookman University’s softball program has added former University of Kentucky standout Abbey Cheek to their coaching staff. Cheek, the 2019 Schutt/NFCA Player of the Year and SEC Player of the Year, brings a wealth of experience and knowledge to the Wildcats. Joining assistant coach Kaci Vassallo, Cheek will play an integral role in shaping the Maroon and Gold’s future.
FAU Elevates Taylor Smartt to Associate Head Coach
Florida Atlantic University (FAU) softball has promoted Taylor Smartt to the position of Associate Head Coach. Smartt’s exemplary performance as an assistant coach during her first season with the Owls led to this well-deserved promotion. Her continued contributions will undoubtedly contribute to the team’s success.
As the college softball landscape evolves with transfer signings and coaching additions, these changes promise to ignite excitement among fans and shape the upcoming seasons. With talented players and experienced coaches joining new programs, the stage is set for thrilling matchups and unforgettable performances on the diamond.