A coach once told me everyone has a freshman year. Well when breaking down this list I would take our 1, 2, or 3’s freshman year. While listed in order, the top three are difference makers on the field and with a bat in their hand. Hayley Tierce from Georgia Southwestern, Vada Blue Sherrill from Pfieffer and Erin Boone from Lenoir-Rhyne all have two things in common. They were named conference Freshman of the Year and no pitcher would want to face them with the game on the line.
Following these three is seven more sophomores who are looking to use a successful freshman season to catapult themselves into a great sophomore year. In our list below we list out our top 10 freshman to watch this upcoming softball season in the southeast.
1. Hayley Tierce – Third Base, Georgia Southwestern
Schutt Sports/NFCA DII Freshman of Year Finalist
Peach Belt Freshman of the Year
NFCA First Team All-Region
D2CCA First Team All-Southeast Region
Peach Belt Second Team All-Conference
We may have to start calling Hayley Tierce the “Queen of Pop,” being one of the most powerful hitters in all of the Southeast. In her first season at GSW she set the season school record for home runs (16) and RBI (51). Tierce had the most homeruns in the PBC for the regular season and was first among freshman hitters in the southeast.
With an impressive .392 batting average, Tierce posted an eye popping .792 slugging percentage which lead all Southeast freshman by more than .200 points. Not only did she lead freshman in homeruns and slugging percentage, Tierce had the most multi-base hits (28) and most RBI (51). In the Peach Belt Tierce was second in RBI, slugging percentage and total bases, pretty good for someone “just” in their freshman year.
2. Vada Blue Sherrill – Shortstop, Pfieffer
Conference Carolinas Freshman of the Year
Second Team All-Region
First Team All-Conference
Pfieffer Female Athlete of the Year
While she may be sitting here at #2 on this list she could easily be #1. Sherrill reached base better than any other freshman in the Southeast. Posting a .507 on base percentage, the only freshman above .500. But what was more important is what she did when reaching the base path. Sherrill logged an impressive 51 stolen bases topping everyone in the Southeast and was third nationally in NCAA DII softball. Sherrill also topped the freshman class earning 37 walks. Sherrill was the only player in DII softball to have over 50 hits, 50 runs, 50 stolen bases, and 40 RBI. Not too many others in the history of NCAA softball can claim to be members of the 50/50/50/40 club.
While in route to these amazing numbers Sherrill broke Pfieffer’s school records in 4 categories, runs (58), stolen bases, on base percentage and walks. Oh and by the way did we mention her defense isn’t too bad? Sherrill led Pfieffer in assists with 132 while playing shortstop all season.
3. Erin Boone – Outfielder, Lenoir-Rhyne
South Atlantic Conference Freshman of the Year
D2CCA First Team All-Southeast Region
NFCA Second Team All-Region
SAC First Team All-Conference
Listed at only 5’3” don’t let her size fool you. Boone topped the Southeast freshman class with 86 hits on the season, and while the lefty can use some speed, she brings a good pop hitting 6 homeruns and again leading the freshman class with 127 total bases. Boone led the Southeast freshman class in 6 offensive categories; at bats (214), runs (62), hits, triples (4), total bases and batting average (.402). Not only was she tops in freshman, Boone also led Lenoir-Rhyne in 9 offensive categories with batting average, at bats, runs, hits, total bases, slugging percentage, walks, on base percentage and stolen bases. I would be willing to bet, Boone is going to be a big part of Lenoir-Rhyne’s offense for the rest of her career.
4. Kate Lee – Catcher/Outfielder, North Greenville
Conference Carolinas First Team All-Conference
Just call her “Kate Doubles” as she led all of Southeast with doubles (21) and was second nationally in NCAA DII with an average of .44 doubles per game. Lee was also 2nd in the freshman class in multi-base hits (26), and slugging percentage (.595). Lee was the top offensive producer at North Greenville leading the team in 11 offensive categories; at bats, runs, hits, doubles, homeruns, RBI, total bases, batting average, slugging percentage, on base percentage, and stolen bases.
5. Logan Harrell – Catcher/Second Base, Armstrong State
Harrell may have been a little overshadowed by her teammate Hannah Reppert (expect to hear that name in a few weeks), but Harrell was an integral part in Armstrong’s run to the World Series. Harrell was second on the team in 6 offensive categories; at bats (179), hits (60), doubles (10), homeruns (10), RBI (45), and slugging percentage (.581). She was tied for first with triples also. Harrell was the only other player to hit double digit homeruns and was 1 of 3 with over 100 total bases in the Southeast freshman class.
6. Naomi Sapp – Outfielder, Wingate
South Atlantic Conference Honorable Mention All-Conference
Sapp will look to lead the Wingate offense this upcoming year. She trailed only seniors in 5 offensive categories at Wingate in batting average, at bats, runs, hits, and triples. Sapp was third in the freshman class with a .368 batting average and a .412 on base percentage. She was 1 of only 5 freshman in the Southeast to have a slugging percentage above .500 and was tied for first with 4 triples.
7. Brandi Parks – Pitcher, Lenoir-Rhyne
Parks may not be leading in innings pitched, but she made every inning worthwhile in her 66.1 innings. Parks finished the season with a perfect 11-0 record while posting a Southeast freshman and team best 1.27 ERA. When facing Parks opponents recorded a slim .157 batting average and only mustered up 37 hits while Parks posted 70 strikeouts for a 7.39 strikeouts per 7 innings pitched. Allowing only 24 walks helped her lead the Southeast freshman class in strikeouts to walk ratio by logging almost 3 strikeouts to each walk. I look for Parks to log some more innings with the graduation of primary pitcher Maryann Hoskins this past season.
8. Rachel Weidner – Pitcher, Wingate
Weidner was the #2 option for Wingate, but heading into this season she will be the only pitcher on the staff with game experience. Bidding her time behind dominate senior pitcher Stacey Houser, Weidner logged a successful freshman year with an 11-4 record while posting 4 shutouts. In her 117.1 innings pitched she struck out 101 batters, 1 of only 2 freshman in the Southeast to have above 100 strikeouts. Her 6.03 strikeouts per 7 innings was fourth best among freshman pitchers.
9. Kelli McCormack – Catcher, Utility, Lander
Peach Belt First Team All-Conference
McCormack was a big part for the Lander team recording their best program finish in recent history. Sixth amongst the Southeast freshman class, she posted a .339 batting average and .406 on base percentage. McCormack was solid in her innings behind the plate for Lander throwing out 7 baserunners and logging only 2 errors for a .986 fielding percentage.
10. Hannah Jones – Pitcher/Utility, Barton
New head coach Junior Bailey will be looking to build the future on Jones’s freshman year success. Jones was able to lead the team in 5 offensive categories with games played, at bats, hits, RBI, and batting average. Jones was also key in the pitching staff second to last year senior Liz White in pitching categories. Jones was sixth in the Southeast freshman class with a 2.87 ERA while being second with 141.1 innings pitched.
Next 10: (Arranged in Alphabetical Order)
- Anna Brafford – Outfield, Pfieffer
- Ragan Broome – Infield, Mars Hill
- Reagan Davis – Outfield, Erskine
- Sydney Ditto – Utility, Queens
- Taylor Forehand – Pitcher, Coker
- Lady Sarah Fedrico – Catcher, Montevallo
- Emily Kenley – Pitcher, Lenoir-Rhyne
- Callie Kukendall – Pitcher, Pfieffer
- Joshlyn Martin – Catcher/First Base, Georgia Southwestern
- Maria Williamson – Infield, Coker
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