Photo Credit Ty Russell/OU Athletics
The Oklahoma Sooners not only have the best softball team in the country, but the program also hosts some of the most talented freshmen in the nation. On Thursday afternoon, the NFCA trimmed the list of Freshman Player of the Year candidates to three. Now possessing a 66.6% chance of bringing home the hardware, two OU players made the cut — Tiare Jennings and Jayda Coleman.
Coleman entered the collegiate ranks as the No. 1 ranked recruit of the 2020 cycle. Living up to the billing, the young star recorded a .478 batting average heading into Super Regional play this upcoming weekend. Additionally, the utility player accounted for 46 runs batted in. Integrating into the heavy-hitting lineup seamlessly, the Texas native smashed 8 homers with the most recent coming in the Norman Regional against Morgan State. However, Coleman isn’t just known for her abilities at the plate.
In the field, the freshman owns a .976 fielding percentage. Stepping up the level of play in the post season, Coleman remains perfect in the field dating back to the start of the Big 12 Conference Tournament. A skilled fielder who has only committed two errors all season long, Coleman has become a reliable defender behind the pitching staff.
Joining her teammate on the list, Tiare Jennings burst onto the scene early as a Sooner with three homers in the season opener. The No. 2 ranked recruit in the 2020 cycle current holds a .488 batting average. Collecting 25 homeruns en route to the Super Regional, the former Gatorade Player of the Year in California showed she could compete with the best of the best. Striking out 12 times in 164 at bats is quite impressive given the lack of experience against top notch pitching.
Still, Jennings’ prowess stretches into the field as well. Sporting a .969 fielding percentage, the Cali native has committed three errors on the year. Erasing much of the memory of those errors, Jennings has also made stellar plays at pivotal moments of various contest.
As the two continue to pursue a National Championship, it will be interesting to see how this accolade spurs them on to new heights. Of course, there is a third candidate vying for the title in Clemson’s Valerie Cagel. The winner will be announced on June 1. Assuming it is a Sooner, the program will rewrite the history books as the only school with three winners in the history of the award.