The art of the “hitting pitcher” is not as prevalent as it once was. During the days of greats like Lisa Fernandez and Jennie Finch, pitchers often hit for themselves in the batting order and many all-time great hurlers were also sensational offensive threats.
In today’s game, some star pitchers don’t pick up a bat for a variety of reasons. Many prefer to avoid the risk of injury, while others are grateful to have some time to relax or game plan while their teams stack up the run support behind them.
Even still, though, there are quite a number of standouts and stars who spin the ball in the circle as well as step into the batter’s box. In today’s Top 10, we ranked the best dual-threat players in Division 1!
Honorable Mention: Georgina Corrick, South Florida; Sydney Supple, Northwestern; Payton Tidd, Notre Dame; Mack Leonard, Illinois State; Grace Baalman, Kentucky; Lindsey Walljasper, Charlotte; Alana Vawter, Stanford; Madie Auginbaugh, Fordham; Cayla Drotar, South Carolina
10. Mariah Mazon, Oregon State
Mazon often gets overlooked, lost in a crowded array of stars on the diamond in the PAC-12. Her abilities with her arm are sensational, however, and her bat isn’t too shabby in its own right. A “super junior”, if you will, Mazon currently boasts a 2.95 ERA and 157 strikeouts this season in just over 140 innings of work. She’s also batting .337 with five home runs as a regular member of the Beavers’ lineup.
9. Danielle Williams, Northwestern
The Wildcats’ pitching ace is also a dangerous hitter. She owns a stellar 1.93 ERA and 45 wins during her pitching career in Evanston, but also sports a .271 batting average and 34 RBIs in 170 career at-bats. In 2021, she also has notched her first-ever collegiate stolen bases.
8. Brittany Pickett, North Carolina
Pickett’s absence was felt on both sides of the ball last season when she went down with an injury, which only underscores her value to the Tar Heels’ program in both her role as ace of the pitching staff and as a cornerstone of the lineup. For her career, Pickett owns a 2.28 ERA and 732 strikeouts. Her own career batting average – .275 – is more than forty points higher than that of her opponents’, who have hit just .231 against her. She also has hit 33 career home runs.
7. Paige Rauch, Villanova
After following head coach Bridget Orchard from Fordham to Villanova following her own freshman year, Rauch has continued the torrid pace that she set at her career’s very beginnings. Earlier this season, she set the Villanova program’s career home run record in just over two years’ worth of games as a Wildcat. Rauch has been a rock in the circle – 2.56 ERA and 338 strikeouts – and at the plate – .425 batting average, 35 home runs, .863 slugging percentage – throughout her career.
6. Melissa Rahrich, Stony Brook
Rahrich leads the Seawolves with her arm and her bat. She is a two-time America East Conference Player of the Year and will go down as one of the best athletes in history at Stony Brook. For her career, Rahrich owns a 2.76 ERA and .266 opponent’s batting average, and sports a .410 average at the plate in her own right. Her career offensive numbers also include 39 home runs, 157 RBIs, and a slugging percentage of .698.
5. Autumn Humes, Kentucky
Grabbing Humes as a Division II transfer moving up has turned into one of Rachel Lawson’s most successful coaching moves. Humes has topped the Wildcats’ pitching staff since she got to Lexington, and even elected to return for her “super senior” season to help the program advance even further. She does that with both her arm and her bat, to the tune of a 2.90 ERA with 245 strikeouts and a .244 batting average with nine home runs in her career.
4. Makinzy Herzog, Texas A&M
You don’t often see a starting pitcher at the top of her team’s batting lineup, but that’s a role that Herzog has filled multiple times this season. In three seasons, including her freshman year at Florida State, Herzog owns a 1.64 ERA and has collected 166 strikeouts. Offensively, she’s really come into her own in her two seasons as an Aggie and now owns a career .349 batting average with 17 home runs and a .611 slugging percentage.
3. Valerie Cagle, Clemson
Easily one of the brightest shining stars to come out of Clemson’s first two years as a program, Cagle has quickly become one of the nation’s best young stars. She has made waves with both her bat and her arm, and even her defensive prowess as she frequently plays in the outfield when not pitching. In thirty-two games this season, Cagle owns a .385 batting average with eight home runs and has assembled a microscopic 1.03 ERA with 141 strikeouts in the pitching circle. For her career, she bats at a .381 clip with eighteen home runs and her career ERA registers at 1.52.
2. Shelbi Sunseri, LSU
To put Sunseri’s career properly into perspective, the 2020 season – when she hit .328 – was seen as a “down year” for the LSU sensation. Admittedly, hitting just one home run was out of character for her, but that characterization simply illustrates how high the bar was set in her breakout season of 2019. Sunseri has looked like her old self both in the circle and at the plate in 2021, and now boasts a career ERA of 2.13 with 174 strikeouts in 256.1 innings of work. Offensively, her career batting average stands at .296, and she owns 28 career doubles and 31 career home runs.
1. Rachel Garcia, UCLA
Garcia falls into the vein of the Fernandezes and Finches of the game, as she will go down as one of the all-time greats. Garcia’s career is well-known, as is her prowess both in the circle and at the plate. Consider the 2019 Women’s College World Series – in addition to pitching the Bruins to a near-spotless postseason run, it was Garcia’s home run against Washington in the WCWS semifinals that swept her team into the championship series.