These Pac-12 softball transfers could be difference-makers in 2023

The transfer portal has had a huge impact on college softball the past few years. We’ve seen players such as UCLA’s Delanie Wisz, Arizona’s Alyssa Denham and the Hackbarth twins at Arizona State enter the Pac-12 and become All-Americans. There are a handful of transfers set to make an impact on their new teams this year as well.

Sharlize Palacios, C, and Brooke Yanez, P, UCLA

These names are obviously familiar to Pac-12 fans. Palacios was an all-conference catcher at Arizona the past three seasons. Yanez missed last year due to injury, but she was an All-America pitcher at Oregon in 2021.

Both players fill a large void for the Bruins. Delanie Wisz caught most games and was UCLA’s best bat last season from an average and power perspective. Palacios is one of the best defensive catchers in the nation and hit 38 home runs the past two seasons.

Yanez gives the Bruins a left starter in the circle to pair with reigning Pac-12 Pitcher of the Year Megan Faraimo after Holly Azevedo’s departure. Yanez was stellar in her two seasons at Oregon, logging a 1.97 ERA and a .182 batting average against. She can return from injury without the pressure of needing to be the ace as well with Faraimo already in Westwood. UCLA also brought in former Pac-12 standouts Janelle Meoño (Arizona) and Rachel Cid (Oregon).

Lindsay Lopez, P, Washington

Another former all-conference player switched jerseys this offseason. Lopez, an Arizona native, developed into one of the best arms in the Conference the past two seasons with the Sun Devils. She collected 31 wins in her three seasons at Arizona State, and brings postseason experience to Washington’s pitching staff.

The lefty picked Washington, not only because she can be the ace after Gabbie Plan’s eligibility ran out, her mom also grew up in the area. Lopez and freshman Ruby Meylan will complement each other well with Lopez using her lethal changeup to create weak contact.

Morgan Scott and Elise Sokolsky, P, Oregon

Speaking of retooling a pitching staff, Melyssa Lombardi found two pieces to pair with Stevie Hansen this season. The Ducks faced both Morgan Scott (UNC Greensboro) and Elise Sokolsky (UConn) on a road trip to North Carolina last year; Lombardi liked what she saw from both.

Scott arrives with 522.1 innings of experience and two SoCon Pitcher of the Year awards. She likely won’t be needed to pitch that many innings in Eugene, but having a reliable arm with postseason experience will be a great asset to Lombardi. Sokolsky had a similar season to Hansen at UConn. Down the stretch she became the Huskies’ ace and won 20 games, the most in the Big East.

Sara Kinch, C, Arizona State

The Sun Devils have been lucky enough to have two of the best defenders behind the dish the past two seasons in Maddi Hackbarth and Jessi Puk. This year should be no different with Sara Kinch (and Gianna Boccagno from Boston College).

Kinch was a late addition to the roster from Minnesota after she entered the portal at the end of November. Despite only being a true junior, Kinch has started 90 games behind the plate in her career and thrown out 18 runners. She’s also hit seven home runs in each of the last two seasons.

Abby Doerr, C, Oregon State

Doerr, an Oregon native, originally enrolled early to Alabama as one of the top recruits of her class. However, she was in and out of the lineup for the Crimson Tide but has had her moments. In 2021, she hit a pinch-hit two run home run against Arizona at the Women’s College World Series. Doerr has plenty of pop and the Beavers are still looking to improve their offense after their run to Oklahoma City.

Kaylee Pond, INF, California

Pond comes to Berkeley from Iowa State. She missed her first season due to injury but bounced back last season to make the Big 12 All-Freshman Team last season. She walked 29 times, sixth-most in the conference. Pond, who grew up in the Bay Area, started 52 games in 2022, mostly at third base for the Cyclones. Cal moved its infield around quite a bit last year and Pond could certainly find a spot.

Ali Blanchard, P, Arizona

The Wildcats only return one pitcher from last season’s WCWS team — junior Devyn Netz — so they will need several newcomers to step up in the circle this season. Enter Blanchard, a transfer from Princeton.

The senior earned first-team All-Ivy League honors in 2022 after going 10-4 with a 2.76 ERA while leading the conference in strikeouts (155). Her vast Division I experience should come in handy seeing that Arizona’s three other newcomer pitchers arrive from high school and junior college.

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