Pitching Superstars of Tomorrow 2016

NCAA Pitchers Poised to Make Headlines in the Next Few Years

By TSC Analyst/Contributor DANIEL URBAN 
LOMBARD It's that time again!  Time to identify the top underclassmen from 2015 who are poised to be the next big names in NCAA softball during the next 2-3 years.  Softball is a pitchers' game.  The team with the most dominant pitcher usually wins the gameand the NCAA title.  You cannot expect to get very far in the postseason without a top-rate ace pitcher.  We should therefore be able to predict which teams are going to make headlines in the next few yearsand have the best shot to win it allby sorting out their pitchers statistically.  So without further adieu, here are your top five NCAA pitching superstars of the future!

#1: Megan Betsa - Michigan - 2015 Sophomore

2015 Stats: 31-5 record, 1.72 ERA, 211 innings pitched, 333 strikeouts, 1.58 strikeout-per-inning ratio

Megan Betsa may be the best future NCAA pitching superstar ever.  Why?  Because not only does she have incredible numbers and a dynamite team around her at Michigan, but Betsa has WCWS final pitching experience.  Betsa got to pitch 6.2 innings during the three games of the WCWS final, and she performed reasonably well with 3 earned runs and 11 strikeouts.  But the experience of pitching in NCAA softball's biggest game is going to pay dividends years into the future.  Michigan is a perennial powerhouse in the Big Ten, and won a title in 2005.  Betsa's talents will be a great recruiting tool, and I'm sure legendary Michigan coach Carol Hutchins will find a way to put quality players around her and make the Wolverine sure contenders for 2016 and 2017.  Hopefully the 2015 national championship loss fuels a fire in Betsa's gut, inspiring her to improve her game and insure Michigan never again hoists a 2nd place trophy.  Betsa will certainly be a fun player to watch for the next two years.

#2: Sara Groenwegen - Minnesota - 2015 Sophomore

2015 Stats: 31-7 record, 1.67 ERA, 234 innings pitched, 379 strikeouts, 1.62 strikeout per-inning ratio

Alexis Osorio is another 2015 underclassmen pitcher on the verge of greatness.  Osorio was a key piece of a 2015 Alabama team that made it all the way to the WCWS final.  Osorio has all the tools to be a top tier pitcher, and the University of Alabama is a top SEC softball school that won the title in 2012 and was runner up in 2014.  Osorio has a great chance to really shine in Tuscaloosa in 2016 and 2017, and if she can continue to improve the Crimson Tide has an excellent chance to repeat as national champion.

#3: Alexis Osorio - Alabama - 2015 Sophomore

2015 Stats: 22-9 record, 1.75 ERA, 192 innings pitched, 227 strikeouts, 1.18 strikeout-per-inning ratio

Kelsey Stevens is the first bona fide ace pitcher to grace the mound at Oklahoma since super pitcher Keilani Ricketts graduated in 2013.  She has some big shoes to fill if she wants to accomplish even a fraction of what Keilani did, but she has proved at an early age that she has the skills to replicate Keilani's success.  Oklahoma had a bit of a "hangover" year in 2014 (by Oklahoma standards) in its first season without Keilani; the Sooners only advanced to the super regional and were bounced by Tennessee.  But the Sooners scored the top recruiting class of the 2015 season and have a burgeoning superstar pitcher in Kelsey Stevens.  If the group can continue to improve they will be hoisting some hardware in the near future.

#4: Randi Rupp - Texas State - 2015 Freshman

2015 Stats: 24-14 record, 2.70 ERA, 249 innings pitched, 293 strikeouts, 1.18 strikeout-per-inning ratio

Texas State is not a traditional softball contender school, but with underclassmen studs like Randi Rupp they might be in the near future.  Rupp exploded on the scene in 2015 and finished 12th in the nation in strikeouts with 293.  Rupp is the type of rock in the circle that could help attract other recruits over the next three years and turn Texas State into one of the top softball schools outside of the major conferences.  Rupp was only a freshman in 2015, and if she can up her game even a little we might be hearing a lot more about Texas State over the next three years.

#5: Jordan Dixon - Marshall - 2015 Freshman

2015 Stats: 33-15 record, 2.57 ERA, 235 innings pitched, 308 strikeouts, 1.31 strikeout-per-inning ratio

Jordan Dixon is another young ace who will surely make headlines during her softball career over the next three years.  Dixon placed 8th in the nation in strikeouts as a freshman in 2015.  Marshall is not in a top power conference, but she has had some success in the postseason in the recent past.  If it can attract players like Dixon it has a great chance of being a nationally recognized team during Dixon's tenure at the school.  Ranking in the top ten nationally in any statistic as a freshman is a major accomplishment, but ranking in one of the most useful pitching statistics (strikeouts) is reason to celebrate.  If Dixon continues to improve, she may be one of the all-time pitching greats at Marshall and could lead the school to national prominence.

There is the list!  Be sure to look for these names over the coming years! Read more.