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2020 Top 50 College Softball Programs Countdown: 41-45

Analysis

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It’s time to unveil our inaugural Top 50 College Softball Programs rankings.

For the purpose of this exercise, we don’t care what happened in the 1970s or 80s, or even the 90s — that’s ancient history to a potential recruit in 2019. Tradition is nice, but it’s more important to establish a tradition of consistent winning in the last decade, and especially in the last five years. Our ultimate goal here is to identify the programs in the best shape right now, with an eye toward the next five to 10 years.

So we began by awarding programs points for making regionals and having postseason success in the last five years, and a fewer amount of points for success between six and 10 years ago. That gave us a starting point; then national writers Tara Henry and Rhiannon Potkey made adjustments based on evaluations of coaching staff quality and stability, facilities, scholarship/financial aid situation, conference dynamics, momentum, and recruiting and player development proficiency.

We tried to take many factors into consideration and debated our rankings internally at length. Reasonable minds will disagree on the rankings, and we want to hear your take, so weigh in with your own thoughts in the comments section below.

Over the next two weeks, we’ll count down from No. 50 to No. 1. Today, we take an in-depth look at No’s 41-45.

SEE ALSO: No’s 46-50.


No. 41 Houston

Location: Houston
Conference: American Athletic Conference
Head Coach: Kristin Vesely, 122-73 (Four Seasons)
Field: Cougar Softball Field (1,200)  
Postseason appearances: 9
Last Decade: 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2018, 2019 
WCWS Appearances: 0
All-Americans: 5

Kristin Vesely joined the Cougar staff back in 2011 as an assistant coach under Kyla Hoyas. Hoyas named Vesley associate head coach in 2014 and was eventually named head coach in 2016. Needless to say, the former Oklahoma All-American has been an integral part to the Cougars’ success over the last decade.  

In 2011, Houston (at-large bid) steamrolled through the Austin regional defeating No. 24 Louisiana (7-2) and No. 6 Texas (1-0) to advance to the Stillwater Super Regional against Oklahoma State. The Cougars missed out on the WCWS by one run (5-6) in the if-necessary game. 


No. 42 Hofstra

Location: Hempstead, N.Y.
Conference: Colonial Athletic Conference
Head Coach: Jay Miller, 23-42 (Three Seasons)
Field: Bill Edwards Stadium (1,000) 
Postseason Appearances: 17
Last Decade: 2010, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2018
WCWS Appearances: 0
All-Americans: 7
Olympians: 1

With 11 CAA conference championships and seven ECC/AEC titles, the Pride dominate conference play. Point in case, Hofstra tallied a 102-12 record from 2010-2015 under both Bill Edwards and Larissa Anderson.  The Pride made its sole super regional appearance back in 2012 under legendary Edwards, losing to South Florida by one run. 

Hofstra has retired six numbers in the program’s history including #2 Olivia Galati. The righthanded hurler played for the Pride from 2010-2013 and was a key component to their success in the early part of the decade. In the circle, Galati advanced to post season three times and was named the CAA Pitcher of the Year and NFCA All-Northeast region all four years. 


No. 43 Boston University

Location: Boston
Conference: Patriot League
Head Coach: Ashley Waters, 143-99 (Five Seasons)
Field: BU Softball Field (500)
Overall Tournament Appearances: 10
Last Decade: 2010, 2012, 2014, 2016, 2018, 2019 
WCWS Appearances: 0
All-Americans: 2

The Terriers find loads of success at home. Boston U has posted a winning home record in all but one season (1990), most recently going 18-0 at home in 2019. Under current head coach, Ashley Waters, the Terriers have nabbed three Patriot League tournament championship titles and two Patriot League regular season titles. With six post season appearances in the last decade the Terriers have been able to qualify for the tournament but have yet to make it to the WCWS.

In 2014, Boston U traveled to Arizona to take on the No. 11 seed Arizona, falling 6-8 to the Wildcats. The Terriers turned around to beat Louisville 8-3 in the second game, only to fall to LSU in the third game.


No. 44 Longwood

Location: Farmville, Va.
Conference: Big South
Head Coach: Dr. Megan Brown, (First Season)
Field: Lancer Field (300) 
Overall Tournament Appearances: 5
Last Decade: 2013, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2019 
WCWS Appearances: 0
All-Americans: 2

Longwood has dominated the Big South, winning five of the past seven championships under former head coach Kathy Riley. In her 23 years at the helm, the Lancers earned seven conference titles and accumulated a 722-400-1 record. The recent success in the last decade. The Lancers advanced twice to the regional championship game against two ranked squads JMU (2016) and Tennessee (2017). Riley retired in June 2020, prompting Longwood to hire Dr. Megan Brown. 

Two All-Americans are named in the Longwood history books: Megan Baltzell and Brooke Short. Both were honored in the 2013 season in which the Lancers posted a 41-20 record and Big South Tournament Championship. In her sophomore campaign, Baltzell batted .406 and set the Longwood RBI record (78) and home run record (30). Short posted a .378 average with 114 runs, 15 homers. 


No. 45 Jacksonville State

Location: Jacksonville, Ala.
Conference: Ohio Valley Conference 
Head Coach: Jana McGinnis, 919-497 (27 Seasons)
Field: University Field (2,000) 
Tournament Appearances: 9
Last Decade: 2010, 2011, 2013, 2016, 2017, 2018
WCWS Appearances: 0

The Gamecock have won 14 conference championships including 11 OVC conference titles. With a seven-time conference coach of the year, Janna McGinnis has provided stability for Jacksonville State. With nine regional appearances and a super regional appearance (2009) the Gamecocks have shown tremendous fight against Power Five programs. 

During the 2016  Jacksonville State posted a 43-17 overall record and a 26-0 in the OVC, marking McGinnis’ 10th 40-win season. The Gamecocks travelled to the Auburn Regional to fall to host No. 5 Auburn in the championship game.  Following a perfect conference record in 2016, the Gamecocks went 18-1 (2017) and 16-6 in 2018 (2018) to qualify yet again for NCAA regionals. 

 

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