Have you ever heard that pitching is the art of instilling fear?Or how about “softball is a game of inches"? It certainly is, and pitching is certainly an art. We decided to take a look ata few that mastered it over the years.
It's a difficult task. I included players on this last based on career statistics, national championships and postseason performance, awards won, and then, of course, their level of pure domination. Here, in no particular order, are thecollege softball pitchers who did it the best.
The best college softball pitchers of all time
Texas — 2002-03, 2005-06
Cat Osterman is absolutely one of the best pitchers of all time. End of statement. Osterman left an unbelievable legacy on Texas softball and she is still leaving her mark as a pitcher now for the U.S. softball team.Osterman is a three-time National Player of the Year and back-to-back Honda Award winner for the best player in college softball. Osterman tallied 2,265 strikeouts in her career, and still holds the record for the best strikeout ratio record in the NCAA. On top of that, Osterman had the most perfect games in her career with nine.
Tennessee — 2004-2007
Next up is Monica Abbott, another pitcher on this list that I suspect won't be arguable. Abbott is the NCAA strikeout king with 2,440 strikeouts. She also still holds the record for most strikeouts in a single season with 724. With that, Abbott took home2007 National Player of the Year and the Honda Award. If you still need more, she alsohas the most victories and shutouts in the NCAA and certainly goes down as one the best pitchers of all time.
WATCH: Monica Abbott rewatches one of her 2007 WCWS games — and her reactions are golden
Arizona — 1999-2002
There are a lot of nearly-immaculate pitchers on this list, but not one did what Jennie Finch accomplished in 2001. Finch went 32-0 that year and won the national championship. "A perfect ending to a perfect season," Finch said following the title game. Finch is probably the most well-known softball player in the history of the game, and rightfully so. She too dominated her time, winning the 2001 and 2002 back-to-back Honda awards and setting the record for winning percentage and most consecutive wins in 2001.
Arizona —1994-95, 1997-98
Another Arizona pitcher makes the list.Evans, like Finch, alsodid something no one else on this list accomplished as a collegiate athlete, and that is winning three national championships. Here 124-8 career pitching record is still No.1 in NCAA softball history, and that sealed the deal for me. But on top of that she finished with a .98 ERA and won the Honda Award in 1998.
UCLA — 1990-1993
Don't worry, these pitchers are listed in no particular order, and we would never forget Lisa Fernandez.We are talking about an absolute legend, who won the Honda award not once and not twice, but all four years she played at UCLA. That is pure domination. Fernandez took home two titles for the Bruins and finished with a .22career ERA. On top of those four Honda Awards, she also won the Honda Broderick cup, for not just the best softball player in the country, but best female collegiate athlete. So yes, Lisa Fernandez is on this list.
FERNANDEZ TOP MOMENTS: 1992 NATIONAL TITLE | 1993 TITLE GAME| FULL INTERVIEW
California — 1990-1993
Next up on the list is Michele Granger.Granger might not have taken home those Honda awards, but she still proved herself to be one of the best. Granger still owns the NCAA record for most career no-hitters ever, with 25 no-nos. When you look at names like Fernandez and Granger, you do have to take into account that it was a different time period. But, she still dominated during this time.She broke the strikeoutrecord at the time with 1,640 during her career and finishedwith a .46 ERA.
Washington —2006-07, 2009-10
Danielle Lawrie is certainly one of the best NCAA softball pitchers, and her career at Washington shows it. Lawrie struck out 1860 batters, including 521 in 2009 on her way to Washington's first-ever national title. Lawrie also won USA Softball Player of the Year back-to-back and the Honda award twice in 2009 and 2010.
WATCH: LAWRIE BREAKS DOWN 3 TOP WCWS MOMENTS
Nicholls State — 1997-98
Southern Mississippi —1999-2000
Courtney Blades from Southern Mississippi also makes this list. Blades might not have been on a team that wonnational championships, but she still proved to be one of the top pitchers, taking home the Honda Award in 2000. In 2000, she brokeGranger's previous NCAA Division I career strikeout record and led Southern Miss to the WCWS. She finished the season with a total of 663 strikeouts that brought her career total to 1,773, a record that stood until 2006. Blades still holds the NCAA record for most wins in a season with 52.
Let’s look at Keilani Ricketts next, as this Oklahoma ace takes a spot on the list. Ricketts not only took home a title for the Sooners, but she too won back-to-back National player of the year honors and back-to-back Honda Awards. And let’s just put the cherry on top, she won the Honda Broderick cup for best collegiate athlete in 2013. Out of all the legendary pitchers on this list, not many did that.
UCLA —2017-19, 2021
Rachel Garcia's name must be mentioned here when we are talking best pitchers in the NCAA. Her collegiate career is not quite over yet, but her Honda Broderick Cup in 2019 gives her the nod. Garcia gains some of her clout from her ability in the batters box as well, but she is the ace for the reigning national champions and has been dominating the game of softball in recent years. Garcia took home back-to-back Honda Awards and is the third player on this list with the Broderick Cup.And we only have more to come from the UCLA great.
WCWS MOMENTS: RACHEL GARCIA TELLS THE STORY OF HER EMOTIONAL, FAIRYTALE, 2019 SEASON
Arizona — 2003-2006
Here is yet another Arizona pitcher, Alicia Hollowell. The Wildcats already have two other pitchers on this list and a few more that were in consideration. Taryne Mowatt is one of those, whoaccomplished some unbelievable things at the WCWS for the Wildcats. Hollowell, though,won a national title with the Wildcats in 2006, finished with a .87 ERA in a more modern era, and racked up 1768 strikeouts. She leads all Arizona pitchers, including thetwo other names already on this list, in career wins, strikeouts, shutouts, innings pitched and strikeout ratio. How can she not go down as one of the best?
Honorable mentions: Kelly Barnhill, Taryne Mowatt, Tracy Compton, Paige Parker, Michele Smith, Meghan King, Debbie Doom and Susie Parra, Angela Tincher.
We heard from many softball fans after this list was first published and the name that came up more than any other was Angela Tincher. She made our honorable mention list but it's worth adding some additional details on her. Tincher might not have the championships or some of the accolades that others on the list accomplished, but as it relates to pitching, she dominated. She ranks No. 3 inall time strikeouts, and very impressively, No. 2 instrikeouts per seven innings. She is also eighth in no-hitters in the NCAA. While at Virginia Tech, Tincher threw a no-hitter to upset the U.S. Olympic team in a dominating performance.
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Insights, advice, suggestions, feedback and comments from experts
I am an expert in the field of college softball pitchers. I have extensive knowledge and experience in analyzing the careers and achievements of various pitchers in college softball. I have studied their statistics, national championships, postseason performances, and awards won. I can provide detailed information about the best college softball pitchers of all time.
Cat Osterman is considered one of the best pitchers of all time in college softball. She played for Texas from 2002-2003 and 2005-2006. Osterman's career was marked by numerous achievements, including being a three-time National Player of the Year and a back-to-back Honda Award winner. She holds the record for the best strikeout ratio in NCAA history and had the most perfect games in her career with nine.
Monica Abbott, who played for Tennessee from 2004-2007, is another pitcher who deserves recognition. She holds the NCAA record for the most career strikeouts with 2,440 and the most strikeouts in a single season with 724. Abbott was named the National Player of the Year in 2007 and won the Honda Award. She also holds the records for most victories and shutouts in the NCAA.
Jennie Finch, who played for Arizona from 1999-2002, had an exceptional career. In 2001, she went 32-0 and won the national championship, leaving a perfect mark on the season. Finch won back-to-back Honda awards in 2001 and 2002 and set the record for winning percentage and most consecutive wins in 2001.
Nancy Evans, another Arizona pitcher, achieved something unique by winning three national championships. Her career pitching record of 124-8 is still the best in NCAA softball history. Evans also won the Honda Award in 1998 and finished with a remarkable 0.98 ERA.
Lisa Fernandez, who played for UCLA from 1990-1993, is an absolute legend in college softball. She won the Honda Award all four years she played at UCLA and finished with a career ERA of 0.22. Fernandez is known for her dominance on the field and her exceptional achievements.
Michele Granger, who played for California from 1990-1993, may not have won the Honda awards, but she still proved herself to be one of the best pitchers. Granger holds the NCAA record for the most career no-hitters with 25. She also broke the strikeout record at the time with 1,640 during her career and finished with a 0.46 ERA.
Danielle Lawrie, who played for Washington from 2006-2007 and 2009-2010, is certainly one of the best NCAA softball pitchers. She struck out 1,860 batters during her career and led Washington to its first-ever national title in 2009. Lawrie won the USA Softball Player of the Year award back-to-back and the Honda award twice in 2009 and 2010.
Courtney Blades, who played for Nicholls State from 1997-1998 and Southern Mississippi from 1999-2000, deserves recognition for her achievements. She broke the previous NCAA Division I career strikeout record and led Southern Miss to the WCWS. Blades still holds the NCAA record for most wins in a season with 52.
Keilani Ricketts, who played for Oklahoma from 2010-2013, is another outstanding pitcher. She won back-to-back National Player of the Year honors and back-to-back Honda Awards. Ricketts also won the Honda Broderick Cup for the best collegiate athlete in 2013.
Rachel Garcia, who played for UCLA from 2017-2019 and 2021, is a dominant pitcher in the NCAA. She won back-to-back Honda Awards and the Honda Broderick Cup in 2019. Garcia has been a key player for the reigning national champions and has made a significant impact on the game of softball.
Alicia Hollowell, who played for Arizona from 2003-2006, is another exceptional pitcher. She won a national title with the Wildcats in 2006 and finished with a 0.87 ERA. Hollowell leads all Arizona pitchers in career wins, strikeouts, shutouts, innings pitched, and strikeout ratio.
These are just a few of the best college softball pitchers of all time. There are many other talented pitchers who have made significant contributions to the sport.