Sydney McKinney Goes No. 1, Pitching Dominates Athletes Unlimited College DraftTop Stories
For returning hitters in Athletes Unlimited, this year’s rookie class isn’t necessarily coming for their jobs. But they are coming for their batting averages.
After Wichita State All-American and USA Softball National Player of the Year finalist Sydney McKinney went No. 1, three of the next four picks were pitchers: Megan Faraimo, Montana Fouts, Kat Sandercock. Chenise Delce made it four of the first seven picks, and Alex Storako was the fifth pitcher off the board at No. 9 (she went No. 1 in the recent WPF draft).
There are no set team rosters in the Athletes Unlimited universe, which spans two distinct competitions in the short-season AUX and the five-week championship season. Team captains draft new rosters from the overall player pool before each round of competition. For the college draft, that means the 14 players enter the player pool as a collective class, rather than being drafted by individual teams.
The draft class is finalized by the five-member Player Executive Committee.
Of the 14 Athletes Unlimited draftees, 12 were also selected in last month’s WPF college draft. The rookies have the option of choosing which competing professional league they sign with—players cannot sign a pro contract until after playing their final collegiate game. McKinney and Arizona State outfielder Yannira Acuña were the two AU selections who were not selected in the WPF draft.
Reading the tea leaves, given her draft position in AU, McKinney appears a likely bet to sign. She currently leads the NCAA with a .527 batting average for the ranked Shockers.
Faraimo, Fouts and Klingler all have Team USA obligations that would prevent them from competing in the AUX competition that begins the weekend after the conclusion of the Women’s College World Series. The scheduling conflicts didn’t prevent WPF teams from selecting Faraimo and Washington slugger Baylee Klingler in the first round, but Fouts didn’t come off the board until the sixth and final round of that draft. It remains to be seen if that is any hint as to a preference for Athletes Unlimited or perhaps belief she won’t play anything other than USA Softball this summer.
Conversely, Tennessee pitcher Ashley Rogers, a first-round WPF selection, and Alabama catcher Ally Shipman, a second-round WPF selection, were not drafted by Athletes Unlimited.
The full list of Athletes Unlimited draft selections is below, in the order selected and with their positional designation in Athletes Unlimited.
- No. 1 Sydney McKinney, middle, Wichita State
- No. 2 Megan Faraimo, pitcher, UCLA
- No. 3 Kayla Kowalik, catcher, Kentucky
- No. 4 Montana Fouts, pitcher, Alabama
- No. 5 Kathryn Sandercock, pitcher, Florida State
- No. 6 Baylee Klingler, corner, Washington
- No. 7 Chenise Delce, pitcher, Arkansas
- No. 8 Kiley Naomi, middle, Oklahoma State
- No. 9 Alex Storako, pitcher, Oklahoma
- No. 10 Yanni Acuña, outfield, Arizona State
- No. 11 Charla Echols, corner, Florida
- No. 12 Haley Lee, corner, Oklahoma
- No. 13 Jordyn Rudd, catcher, Northwestern
- No. 14 Rachel Becker, middle, Oklahoma State
A year ago, Georgina Corrick was the highest drafted player to sign with AU after going third in the college draft behind Jocelyn Alo and Keely Rochard. Corrick excelled in AUX but did not play in the championship season because of international schedule conflicts. In all, eight of last year’s 13 draftees played in AUX, the championship season or both.
The 2023 AUX season begins with a doubleheader on June 12. After playing last season in San Diego, the competition moves to Rosemont, Illinois—also home to the championship season in July and August. Reigning AUX champion Danielle O’Toole retired at the end of last summer, while reigning AU champion Dejah Mulipola is not currently listed on the league’s roster of signed players for 2023.