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Davis, California

Tuesday, June 11, 2024

Mid-season update: UC Davis softball

Head Coach Erin Thorpe has created a winning program full of talent


By CAROLYN (CARI) FENN — sports@theaggie.org


While the UC Davis women’s softball team still has six games left in the 2023 season, they have already shown great improvement compared to their 2022 season. Despite having highs and lows in a 49-game season, the Aggies have had an overall impressive performance so far, currently placing fifth in the Big West Conference. While it is possible that their placement could change as a result of the next few games, the Aggies have already guaranteed a better conference placement than in the 2022 season, when they placed eighth in the Big West.

When comparing UC Davis’s record and statistics from the last two seasons, it is clear just how much improvement the players have made — both as a team and as individuals.  

The most obvious difference is the number of wins against Big West Conference opponents the team has had. Last season, the Aggies had an 11-16 conference record and an overall record of 23-29. This season, they have a current conference record of 12-8 and an overall record of 26-16

As a team overall, their statistics in every criterion have also improved. For instance, the team’s hitting average ranked eighth overall in the Big West last season, with a batting average of 0.242 seconds. This season, the Aggies’ hitting average is ranked third at 0.271 seconds. UC Davis’s pitching dropped from first to second in the rankings, but the team’s overall earned run average (ERA) went from 2.68 in 2022 to 2.24 this season. While their standing did decrease in the Big West Conference, it is important to note that their current ERA is currently better so far compared to last year. Lastly, for fielding, they went from being ranked ninth to being ranked fifth.

All of their improvements as a team have contributed to their winning percentile, which has jumped from 0.442 to 0.619 overall and from 0.442 to 0.605 in conference play. It is obvious that their growth as a team has benefited them greatly throughout the 2023 season. 

While the team as a whole has shown statistical improvement, their success wouldn’t have been possible without the individual improvements of many of the UC Davis players. 

In 2022, no Aggie was named in the top 10 batters in the Big West. Yet this season, the Aggies have third-year outfielder Anna Dethelfson breaking through the top 10, going from being ranked 17th with a batting average of 0.328 seconds to being ranked second with a batting average of 0.405. Dethelfson is also ranked first in stolen bases with an impressive 36 total this season. Additionally, she tops many of the other lists of hitting leaders in the Conference, being first in doubles, third in on-base percentage, third in total hits and third in runs scored. The impressive growth Dethelfson has displayed this season is one of the reasons why the Aggies are succeeding offensively.

Because of this, t is no surprise that Dethelfson was recently named UC Davis’s female student-athlete of the week after achieving a 0.400 batting average, four stolen bases, three runs and two doubles during their series against UC San Diego.

When it comes to pitching, the Aggies had the best pitcher on the mound in the 2022 Big West Conference in third-year Kennedi Brown. While she has dropped from the No. 1 ranking, she is still one of the top pitchers in the conference, currently ranking third

Statistically, Brown has performed incredibly this year. Her ERA is currently 1.77 and she has had a career-high of 14 wins and 127 strikeouts this season. In 2023, Brown has thrown a shutout, been named Big West Pitcher of the week twice, threw her second career no-hitter, been named to the Big West Softball Preseason Coaches Team and most impressively, broke the school record for most strikeouts thrown in UC Davis’s programs history. 

UC Davis also has third-year pitchers Taylor Fitzgerald and Sarah Reineman who have had impressive pitching performances this season. Fitzgerald is ranked eighth with a 2.24 ERA and Reineman is ranked 13th with a 2.70 ERA. Fitzgerald was previously ranked 11th and Reimeman was not ranked at all prior to this season. Having two pitchers rank in the top 10 and three pitchers in the top 15 is a great example of just how much the Aggies’ pitching rotation has grown over the past year.

While UC Davis as a team didn’t reach as high in the fielding rankings as they did in the  hitting and pitching rankings, they still have shown growth in the area compared to the 2022 season. Specifically, Fourth-year infielder Sommer Kisling and third-year first baseman Sarah Starks have both stepped up their fielding this year. 

In 2022, Kisling was ranked 33rd in fielding, but this season she has risen to the fifth spot. Starks ranked 15th last season and is currently ranked ninth. Kisling is also ranked third in fielding percentage at 0.994.

While the Aggies have had some low points during the season, such as losing in extra innings against both UC San Diego and UC Berkeley, they have also had many highs — setting program records and climbing the Big West rankings. It will not be a surprise if UC Davis ends up finishing higher than fourth in the conference and making it far in the NCAA tournament at the end of the season. 


Written by: Carolyn (Cari) Fenn — sports@theaggie.org