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Oklahoma Will Be No. 1 In NFCA Softball Poll. Who Will Be Ranked No. 2?

Oklahoma Will Be No. 1 In NFCA Softball Poll. Who Will Be Ranked No. 2?

The first NFCA Division I College Softball Coaches Poll of 2024 will be released January 30. We know Oklahoma will be No. 1, but who will be ranked No. 2?

Jan 29, 2024 by Briar Napier
Oklahoma Will Be No. 1 In NFCA Softball Poll. Who Will Be Ranked No. 2?

With the first NFCA Division I College Softball Coaches Poll for 2024 being released this week, you’re not going to find any college softball fans arguing that Oklahoma isn’t the No. 1 team in the country heading into the 2024 season.

But, you may find plenty of arguments about who is the best team behind the Sooners. As clearly defined as college softball’s top spot is, who its biggest challenger is is much more up for debate. 

There are usual powers, upstart programs and everywhere in between in the upper tier of the national rankings, but who is most worthy to take on the mighty Sooners and stop their pursuit of a fourth straight national title is a question which has no clear-cut answer.

Ultimately, play on the field will determine who can be the team to try and finally dethrone OU once and for all, but with the new season just weeks away, there are some hints about who that team might be.

Here’s a look ahead at who may claim the No. 2 slot in the first NFCA Division I College Softball Coaches Poll of the 2024 college softball season when it drops Tuesday, January 30th. 

The Top Options For NFCA Coaches Poll No. 2


Being the Southeastern Conference’s preseason favorite usually means that you’ve got a fantastic squad. And surprise, surprise, the Lady Vols are loaded. UT’s five Preseason All-SEC Team selections were the most among any team in the league, with the most familiar being outfielder Kiki Milloy.

Milloy was a first team All-American last year after leading Division I with a single-season program-record 25 home runs. That figure paired with her .406 batting average and 1.483 OPS would already make for spectacular numbers alone. If you loop in Milloy’s 40 stolen bases from a season ago, though, there may not be a more complete offensive threat in college softball right now.

Milloy is one of seven returning starters, with junior McKenna Gibson and her 15 homers with 60 RBIs also returning. UT will need to find a successor to NFCA Pitcher of the Year Ashley Rogers, with the most obvious candidate being Payton Gottshall (16-2, 1.65 ERA in 2023).


It takes an amazing performance on the mound to have a lineup like Oklahoma’s on the ropes, and the Cardinal’s NiJaree Canady did just that last season. As a true freshman. With the now-super sophomore getting some reinforcements for the upcoming season, Stanford has earned the right to be called an upper-tier softball program again after making its first WCWS trip since 2004 last season. 

Canady is the unquestioned star of the show in Palo Alto, posting one of the most stellar freshman pitching seasons ever seen as she led the nation in ERA (0.57) and tossed 218 strikeouts to just 21 walks, an incredible output that saw her be named the country’s Freshman of the Year by multiple publications. She’s merely one of three difference-making sophomores on Stanford’s roster, however, which should make the Cardinals dangerous for seasons to come.

Among second-year players, infielder River Mahler was an All-Pac 12 First Team pick as she batted .350 with 62 hits, while Indiana transfer infielder Taryn Kern ripped the Big Ten Conference apart a year ago with serious juice off her bat, smashing a school-record 23 homers and 65 RBIs to win the league’s Freshman and Player of the Year awards. That standout trio should do a lot of damage, and no team on its schedule is truly safe.

Florida State

The Seminoles have a very compelling argument for why they should be No. 2—they were the last team standing in the way of the Sooners at last season’s WCWS. And while the losses of All-American ace pitcher Kathryn Sandercock, two-time All-Atlantic Coast Conference selection Mack Leonard and others will hurt, recently inducted NFCA Hall of Fame coach Lonni Alameda should continue to cook down in Tallahassee. 

Picked to win the ACC in the preseason for what would be the 15th time, FSU has redshirt junior outfielder Jahni Kerr (with a team-leading .356 average a season ago) leading the charge in the lineup, though the onus will be on impressive sophomore left-hander Makenna Reid (who went 13-0 with an 0.97 ERA in 79⅓ innings as a freshman in 2023) to turn into an elite workhorse. 

Twice the victim in the WCWS finals of the Sooners (in 2021 and 2023) in their three-peat, FSU will instead be looking to shut down OU’s four-peat and get Alameda—a former standout player herself with the Sooners—her second national championship and first since 2018.


Clemson’s rise up the ranks in college softball has been meteoric, only starting play in 2020 and winning at least 42 games while making it to the NCAA Tournament in all three full seasons. But can the Tigers finally break through in 2024 and make it to their first-ever WCWS? Clemson’s got the talent to do it, and it unquestionably helps that the program is spearheaded by the sport’s best current player. 

Reigning USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year Valerie Cagle is an enigma. The two-way Clemson superstar holds a 78-30 career record as a pitcher with a 1.60 ERA and 718 career strikeouts, and that’s on top of a career .390 batting average—including a .469 mark, good for fourth nationally in 2023—with 59 home runs and 182 RBIs in 199 games. 

No team has a player more crucial to its level of success than Cagle does with Clemson, but it also makes the jobs of her supporting cast, namely players like three-time All-ACC pick Alia Logoleo and North Carolina transfer Alex Brown (.399 average as an All-ACC nod for the Tar Heels last season), that much more important as Clemson seeks to finally announce itself as a true softball powerhouse.


For a still-strong UCLA, long considered the gold standard in college softball for consistency and success, to not really be in the preseason conversation as the country’s best non-Oklahoma team, means that there is a lot of firepower in the top levels of the sport right now. And Texas, which met the Sooners in the WCWS final in 2022, has a proven history of realizing how to utilize its strengths to its advantage. 

Junior utility Mia Scott, an All-Big 12 First Team selection in 2023, is a legitimate All-America candidate after slashing .377/.444/.503 as a sophomore with 21 multi-hit games, and she’s one of five Longhorns named to the Big 12’s Preseason Team and one of just three league-wide to be selected unanimously. 

Right-handed junior hurler Mac Morgan was one of the names who joined her on the list after a great first season as Texas’ ace—going 18-4 as part of a pitching staff which returns everyone. A strong group of sophomores led by Ashton Maloney (team-best .382 average in 2023) and Viviana Martinez (Texas first-year single-season record 52 RBIs last season) will help to make UT a group full of emerging talent—and untapped potential.

Rest Of Rankings Predictions

  • 7. UCLA
  • 8. Georgia
  • 9. Duke
  • 10. Arkansas
  • 11. Oklahoma State
  • 12. Washington
  • 13. Alabama
  • 14. LSU
  • 15. Oregon
  • 16. Nebraska
  • 17. Florida
  • 18. Utah
  • 19. Baylor
  • 20. Louisiana
  • 21. Auburn
  • 22. South Carolina
  • 23. Virginia Tech
  • 24. Northwestern
  • 25. San Diego State

How To Watch The 2024 Mary Nutter Collegiate Classic

Watch the 2024 Mary Nutter Collegiate Classic on FloSoftball and the FloSports app.

FloSoftball will be streaming several NCAA Division I college softball tournaments, including the Mark Campbell Collegiate Invitational, THE Spring Games and the Puerto Vallarta College Challenge.