Five transfers who helped their teams reach the NCAA Softball Super Regionals

College coaches in any sport these days have to recruit players in three areas: high schools, their own roster, and the transfer portal. For the sport’s top teams, the portal may be the most important recruiting area to fill the needs that are preventing the team from reaching its goals.

The portal can add immediate, high-level talent to catapult a team to the top (or maintain its top spot), or it can add a key role player who can make enough of a difference to carry a talented team to the postseason.

Who are the five players who transferred to the softball program for the 2024 season and made a key difference in leading the team to the 2024 Super Regional?

Taryn Khan, Stanford

Stanford was one of the final four teams to finish last season, but the team had a big hole in it: offense, which became even more important with Alana Vaughter transferring to South Carolina and taking away half of the Cardinal’s one-two punch on offense.

Taryn Khan spent her freshman season at Indiana. She was both the Big Ten Player of the Year and Freshman of the Year in 2023. She was a second-team All-American and a finalist for National Freshman of the Year and National Player of the Year. Bringing the San Jose native back home was a big deal for a school that has traditionally been difficult to transfer to.

Kahn never quite matched her freshman offensive potential — her batting average dropped from .404 at Indiana to .288 at Stanford, and after smashing 23 home runs with the Hoosiers, she hit just seven with the Cardinals — but she did it in a much tougher league.

The sophomore led Stanford with a 1.049 OPS, thanks in large part to a .520 on-base percentage that was more than 100 points higher than the school’s next-best record, good for second in the Pac-12 and 21st in the country.

With 53 walks and 22 hit by pitch, Kahn drew 75 walks from opposing pitchers. His 0.88 walks per game was seventh in the nation and first in the Pac-12 Conference. Only two players in the nation have been hit by more pitches than Kahn, and he is the only one still in the postseason.

Kahn may not have scored many runs this season, but she has been able to get on base and help her team score, which helped her lead the Cardinals with 40 runs.

Kolbe Ortiz and Jocelyn Erickson, Florida

Florida has a nice freshman class heading into the 2024 season, but few teams have the national talent with experience at the highest level already, and the fact that the Gators have two players of that caliber makes them one of the favorites to win another title.

We covered their performances prior to the Regional Tournament. They took a little time to get going in the opening game of the tournament, but both players came out strong as the weekend progressed. The duo finished the three games with 6 hits in 15 at-bats (.400), 5 walks, 5 RBI, 2 stolen bases and 8 runs scored.

In the final against South Alabama, they had dominant performances. Both players went 2-for-3 with one walk and two runs scored. Erickson had three RBIs and Ortiz had two. Erickson showed off both her speed and power with a home run and a stolen base. She had two extra-base hits and two stolen bases in three games for the Gators.

Kelly Maxwell, Oklahoma

What if you lose a pitcher like Jordy Baer? Oklahoma gets the best pitcher from their in-state rival.

The Sooners added a few transfer pitchers last year, including Liberty’s Carly Keeney and Wisconsin’s Payton Monticelli, but Kelly Maxwell was their biggest acquisition. The graduate student leads Oklahoma with 19 wins and a .905 winning percentage. With just two losses, her winning percentage is fourth in the country.

Maxwell owns a 1.87 ERA in 123.1 innings pitched. While her ERA isn’t the best on the team, it’s the best of any Sooners player who has pitched enough innings to be included in national statistics.

Oklahoma is used to having one (or two) pitchers in the top 10. Last year, the Sooners had two pitchers with an ERA under 1.00. The year before that, the team’s top two pitchers were ranked No. 2 and No. 6 in the country. Prior to this year, five of the past six seasons had at least one pitcher ranked in the top 25. The only time that didn’t happen was the shortened 2020 season.

Maxwell hasn’t pitched at that level this season, but she still leads a team that’s good enough to be the No. 2 seed. Without her, the Sooners will have to rely on pitchers who have thrown fewer than 69 innings this season.

If Oklahoma wins its fourth consecutive championship, Maxwell will be the pitcher to do it.

Miranda Stoddard, Arizona

Many pitchers this postseason have had better results than Miranda Stoddard. Arizona has Aissa Silva, who has 22 wins, but her success will depend on her being part of a pitching staff that works well together.

The Wildcats’ pitching staff is more similar to a baseball bullpen than a traditional softball staff — they’ve only completed one game this season and employ a data-driven mix-and-match strategy, often replacing pitchers after just a few innings.

Last season, the team relied heavily on Devin Netz. Netz also played first base and was the designated hitter on days when he didn’t pitch. There were very few days when he didn’t pitch. Because they overworked Netz, teams paid more attention to him, and Netz’s performance declined. His 3.88 ERA was the best on the team, but it didn’t lift the Wildcats to the top. In the end, Arizona ended its 35-year streak of making the postseason.

Stoddard left college softball even though she had two years of eligibility remaining after graduating from the University of Kentucky in 2022. She worked in the corporate world for a year but realized she wasn’t ready to quit.

Arizona needed someone to handle innings with three of its seven pitchers out this season and freshman Brooke Mannon out for most of the season with an injury, so Stoddard came in to help ease the load for Silva.

Last season, Nets played first base and was a batting pitcher, and pitched more than 175 regular-season innings. No other player pitched more than 54. Stoddard threw 125 innings this season, meaning Silva only pitched 152.2 innings, including regionals.

Stoddard thrived in the regional tournament, helping the Wildcats to a sweep, winning her opening match. Villanova He pitched three innings, allowing just one hit. He returned to the mound two days later, allowing just two hits, one walk and two earned runs in three innings as his team won the regional championship.

Arizona may have been far from the postseason had Stoddard not decided to return to softball, and a berth into Week 2 would have been wishful thinking. She won’t be on any end-of-season awards lists, but it’s tough to watch the Wildcats suffer nine fewer losses this season without her.