#18 South Alabama Softball 2015 Preview

South Alabama Jaguars

Overall Rank: #18
Conference Rank: #2 Sun Belt
#18 South Alabama Softball 2015 Preview
South Alabama Team Page


The Jaguars made their third consecutive trip to the NCAA Tournament last season, falling to the hosts in the Tuscaloosa Regional. South Alabama brings back an experienced squad that features seven seniors that will be looking to end their careers with trips to the Tournament in each of their seasons.  
2014: 42-14, 15-6
2014 Postseason: NCAA
Coach: Becky Clark

Field Players:
South Alabama brings back eight position starters from last year's team, including their top eight hitters. Amanda Minahan led last year's team with a .297 average with eight doubles, two triples and six home runs. Chloe Rathburn and Alex Breeden led the team in home runs with seven and Rathburn led the squad with 34 RBI. Stephanie Pilkington also had 11 doubles and a team-leading three triples. Kaitlyn Griffith hit a team-high 14 doubles last year, while Blair Johnson had six doubles, two triples, five home runs and 26 RBI, which was second on the squad. Seven of the eight returnees knocked in at least 23 RBI.

The Jaguars used a two-woman rotation last year, featuring Farish Beard and Hannah Campbell. Campbell graduated, but Beard comes back for her senior season after compiling a 22-7 record with a 1.23 ERA. Beard struck out 224 batters last season and walked just 34. The Jaguars have three other pitchers on the squad, two of which are freshmen. Will any of those three play a large role on the year's squad?

Who to Watch:
Sophomore Emily Messer. In an interview with the Athletic Department after Fall ball, Coach Clark said that she saw the most improvement out of Messer. Messer started 53 of the 55 games she played in last year and finished with a .275 average and was second on the team with 11 steals. Freshman Kaleigh Todd may be looked at to be a speed demon on the bases after stealing 71 bases as a senior and 209 in her career, which is fourth all-time in Alabama prep history.

Final Projection:
Bringing back their top eight hitters is awesome for a team, no matter who they are. To have that experience can only help the Jaguars as they try to win the Sun Belt and move past the Regional round of the NCAA Tournament. While the pitching staff may face questions, it will be bolstered by the addition of pitching coach Rachele Fico. Fico is a former two-time All-American from LSU who finished in the top five of 10 pitching categories at LSU. She also pitched for the NPF's Akron Racers for two years. For the first time since 2012, Alabama will come to face the Jaguars in Mobile (Ala.) to start the season off. The Jaguars also travel to LSU for a non-conference game. The Sun Belt might be decided in the first weekend of the conference season, when South Alabama welcomes Louisiana-Lafayette to their home field for a three-game series.

Projected Postseason: NCAA Softball Tournament

Returning Leaders:
At Bats: Stephanie Pilkington, OF/C, 185
Hits: Stephanie Pilkington, OF/C, 54
Home Runs: Chloe Rathburn, IF/C, 7: Alex Breeden, C, 7
RBIs: Chloe Rathburn, IF/C, 34
Runs: Kaitlyn Griffith, IF, 35
Stolen Bases: Gwen Jones, OF, 22

Wins: Farish Beard, P, 22
Innings Pitched: Farish Beard, P, 164.2
Strikeouts: Farish Beard, P, 224
Complete Games: Farish Beard, P, 17

Madness 2015 NPF Draft Rankings:
#20 Farish Beard


See All Softball Top 44 Previews