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7 Sooners included in D1Softball’s top 100 players entering 2024

The top team in the nation for the last three seasons is reloaded and ready to defend their crown in 2024.

Riding a 53-game winning streak, the Sooners enter the season as the No. 1 team in the nation and look to win a record-setting fourth-consecutive national title.

Though they experienced some turnover, like the loss of Jordy Bahl to Nebraska, the Sooners are still the most talented team, top to bottom. They have a deep lineup and once again a deep pitching staff thanks to Patty Gasso and Jennifer Rocha’s recruiting at the high school ranks and via the transfer portal.

Seven Sooners were represented in D1Softball’s preseason top 100 players (subscription required) in college softball. Oklahoma claimed two of the top six spots, four in the top 15, and six players in the top 26 in the nation. Five of those six are returning from the 2023 season.

Stanford was the only other team with multiple players in the top 15, with NiJaree Canady ( No. 4) and Taryn Kern (No. 12). Former Sooner Jordy Bahl came in at No. 2 in the nation behind Clemson’s Valerie Cagle at No. 1.

Here’s where the seven Sooners landed in the annual preseason ranking.

Jayda Coleman, CF

Brett Rojo-USA TODAY Sports
Brett Rojo-USA TODAY Sports

Overall: 3

2023 Season: .408 batting average, 1.258 on-base plus slugging, 17 home runs, 48 RBIs.

There isn’t a player that impacts the game quite like Jayda Coleman. She is someone who can erupt at the plate with power and run-producing ability and can take runs off the board with her stellar defensive play. There isn’t a better position player in softball, and Coleman will be a contender for National Player of the Year.

Tiare Jennings , 2B

Bryan Terry, The Oklahoman
Bryan Terry, The Oklahoman

Overall: 8

2023 Season: .415 batting average, 1.258 on-base plus slugging, 17 home runs, 66 RBIs.

Tiare Jennings led the Sooners in every offensive category in 2023. The RBI numbers took a dip, but she didn’t have the benefit of Jocelyn Alo getting walked so frequently in front of her. Still, she had an elite season and will be one of the best in the game again in 2024.

Kinzie Hansen, C

Bryan Terry, The Oklahoman
Bryan Terry, The Oklahoman

Overall: 11

2023 Season: .409 batting average, 1.197 on-base plus slugging, 13 home runs, 57 RBIs.

The best catcher in college softball is back after a huge year in 2023. Not only does she bring it at the plate, but does a fantastic job managing the pitching staff.

Alyssa Brito, INF

Bryan Terry, The Oklahoman
Bryan Terry, The Oklahoman

Overall: 15

2023 Season: .412 batting average, 1.301 on-base plus slugging, 17 home runs, 60 RBIs.

Alyssa Brito had a huge year in 2023, finishing second in batting average and RBIs and tied Tiare Jennings with 17 home runs. She was an emotional leader for the team, keeping the energy up as Oklahoma got into the middle of their lineup.

 

Kelly Maxwell, P

Oklahoma’s Kelly Maxwell pitches during game 2 of OU softball’s Battle Series scrimmage at Marita Hynes field in Norman, Okla., Wednesday, Oct. 18, 2023. Bryan Terry, The Oklahoman
Oklahoma’s Kelly Maxwell pitches during game 2 of OU softball’s Battle Series scrimmage at Marita Hynes field in Norman, Okla., Wednesday, Oct. 18, 2023. Bryan Terry, The Oklahoman

Overall: 17

2023 Season: 16-7, 1.91 ERA, 229 strikeouts in 142.2 innings pitched, 157 opponents batting average.

Kelly Maxwell made waves when she stepped across Bedlam lines to join the Sooners, but it was a huge addition in the wake of Jordy Bahl’s departure. In Maxwell, the Sooners get one of the more veteran pitchers in the game, who’s been incredibly productive during her tenure. Her ERA doesn’t look great, but she had a better opponents batting average than anyone on Oklahoma’s pitching staff in 2023. Will just have to cut down on the walks.

Nicole May, P

Bryan Terry, The Oklahoman
Bryan Terry, The Oklahoman

Overall: 26

2023 Season: 18-0, 0.91 ERA, 130 strikeouts in 107 innings pitched, 0.161 opponents batting average.

Nicole May was one of the more underrated parts of the Sooners’ success in 2023. Her postseason numbers weren’t great, but she threw five innings of two-run ball against NiJaree Canady in the Women’s College World Series. Now in her third season in Norman, look for May to take another step.

Cydney Sanders, 1B

Brett Rojo-USA TODAY Sports
Brett Rojo-USA TODAY Sports

Overall: 73

2023 Season: .284 batting average, 1.002 on-base plus slugging, 9 home runs, 31 RBIs.

Cydney Sanders had a huge year as a freshman for Arizona State in 2022. While the numbers didn’t match in her first year in Norman, she was a pivotal part of the lineup down the stretch. 21 of her 31 RBIs came once conference play began and each of her home runs came during that stretch, including one in the national championship clincher over Florida State.

Sanders is a candidate for a bounce-back season in 2024.

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Story originally appeared on Sooners Wire