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Hitting Superstars of Tomorrow 2016

NCAA Batters Ready to Hit the Big-Time

By TSC Analyst/Contributor DANIEL URBAN 
 
LOMBARD In my last article I focused on future NCAA pitching superstars, but now the hitters get a chance.  There is some incredible underclassmen hitting talent in the NCAA, so it's time to recognize some of the NCAA's future hitting superstars.  These are the names to look for on stat lines in the near future.

1. Katiyana Magua - 3B - Arizona

2015 Stats: .350 batting average, 26 home runs, 76 RBI, 62 hits, 42 runs

First on the list is Katiyana Magua.  Katiyana Magua had one of the best seasons ever for a sophomore.  In her 2nd college season Magua ranked #3 in the nation in home runs.  And Magua is much more than a threat to go deep at the plate.  She proved to be a very consistent hitter with a solid .350 batting average as well.  She also had a very respectable RBI and run total.  Arizona is one of the most storied teams in NCAA softball history, so anything less than competing for a championship is a disappointment.  That's why last year was so devastating for Arizona: it finished the season 41-20 and did not even make the playoffs.  But I'm sure Arizona will rebound in 2016, and Magua will be the leader they need to lead the team back to playoff success.

2. Kellie Christner - Outfielder - Michigan

2015 Stats: .393 batting average, 21 home runs, 67 RBI, 84 hits, 75 runs

The next hitter on our list is sophomore outfielder Kellie Christner.  Last season Christner proved herself to be one of the elite hitters in the NCAA by hitting 21 home runs and maintaining an impressive .393 batting average.  She also knocked in 67 runs and crossed the plate 75 times herself.  The production of Christner and senior slugger Sierra Romero was one of the more entertaining stories of 2015.  Both had incredible numbers and seemed to really challege each other, though in the end Romero barely edged Christner with 22 home runs and a .449 batting average.  Michigan made it all the way to the WCWS final in 2015 behind the electric bats of Christner and Romero, but the Wolverines fell in three games to the Florida Gators and lost a chance at the title.  Unfortunately Romero has graduated and Christner will no longer have her bash sister, but Christner will provide plenty of firepower for the Wolverine offense and should be able to lead it in 2017.

3. Marsa Runyon - Infielder - Alabama

 2015 Stats: .327 batting average, 20 home runs, 80 RBI, 54 hits, 36 runs

Third on the list is sophomore infielder Marsa Runyon. Runyon in the third sophomore on our list, but that did not stop her from slugging like a seasoned veteran.  In 2015 Runyon was tied for 19th in the nation with 30 home runs.  She also hit for a solid .327 batting average, knocked in 80, and crossed the plate 36 times herself.  Alabama was another team on our list with high expectations that were not met in 2015.  The Crimson Tide finished 3rd in the SEC behind Florida and Auburn and did not make the playoffs.  But Alabama is a huge softball state and has a long history of success, so I wouldn't count them out for long.  If Runyon can continue to improve, she should be a great recruiting tool over the next 2 years--what SEC bound freshman wouldn't want a chance to play with the best hitter in the SEC?

4. Delaney Spaulding - Infielder - UCLA

2015 Stats: .397 batting average, 20 home runs, 72 RBI, 75 hits, 69 runs

Delaney Spaulding is the 4th hitter on our list.  Spaulding tied for 19th in the nation in home runs last year with 20, and she was 3 measly points away from hitting .400.  The rest of Spaulding's stat line was also pretty quality with 72 RBI and 69 runs.  UCLA is going to be a scary team in 2016.  UCLA went 51-12 last year and finished 2nd in the Pac 12 after Oregon.  And with players like Spaulding, who will only be a junior in 2016, leading the team's offense UCLA has no where to go but up.  UCLA is already ranked #2 in the nation for the 2016 season.  Watch out NCAA!

5.  Tori Vidales - Infielder - Texas A&M

2015 Stats:  .368 batting average, 20 home runs, 56 RBI, 64 hits, 51 runs

The last player on our list is sophomore infielder Tori Vidales.  Vidales made a big splash in 2015 with 20 home runs, 56 RBI and 51 runs.  Vidales, like Runyon and Spaulding listed above, tied for 19th in the nation with 20 home runs.   Texas A&M has had a handful of really great players over the years (Megan Gibson comes to mind) but has never made a big splash in the postseason.  Last year it finished in the bottom half of the SEC with a 40-20 overall record and 12-12 record in conference.  But a big bopper like Vidales will form the bedrock for this team to succeed over the next few years and establish the Aggies as a top tier SEC softball program.  It will be exciting to see if Vidales can improve over her successful sophomore campaign.

So there you have it!  Look to these ladies to light up scoreboards over the next two years! Read more.

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