By Kyle Sutherland
With the high school softball season winding down, SBLive is looking at the best players in Arkansas. Today, we feature some of the top pitchers across all classifications.
IMPORTANT NOTE: This is not meant to be a comprehensive list as there are hundreds of great pitchers statewide. These are players we have seen along with recommendations from coaches.
Alex Anderson | Greenland | SR
Through April, Anderson has earned 16 wins in the circle throwing 107 innings and striking out as many batters. Greenland head coach Jared James mentioned one of Anderson’s biggest strengths with the ball in her hand is “she places herself in the mind of her opponent and forces hitters to execute outside of their comfort zone.” At the plate, she has batted .526 with an on base percentage of .596, 51 runs batted in and 3 home runs.
“Alex has the ability to deliver the big hit when we need it most,” James said. “She regularly comes through in clutch situations to propel us forward in competition.”
Kodee Batchelor | Poyen | SR
The Ouachita Baptist signee has been huge in key moments for Poyen this season, as recently seen by her complete-game shutout against a very good Ouachita team. Also, back in late March when she went 3-for-3 batting in four runners and smacking two home runs in a 14-1 rout of Cutter Morning Star. In 85.2 innings pitcher Batchelor has struck out 87 batters and compiled a 2.37 earned run average through April. At the plate she has hit .455 with an on base percentage of .529.
“Kodee is the ultimate teammate,” Poyen head coach Blu Kesterson said. “She leads by example, encourages [her teammates] in a positive manner, [great] work ethic, and love of the game.”
Emma Banks | Stuttgart | JR
Stuttgart head coach Chasen Bowman describes Banks as a perfectionist and a Top 5 pitcher in Arkansas regardless of classification. Her play has backed that up for a while, but she has seemed to be on another level this season. Through April 27, Banks pitched 92 innings, struck out 177 batters to just 27 walks, and has put together an incredible earned run average of .84.
“Emma has a chip on her shoulder, and she wants to be the best at everything,” Bowman said. “She loves the big moment and she’s the one you want in the circle when that big moment happens.”
Akayla Barnard | Cabot | JR
Barnard was one of the top underclassmen in the state as a sophomore and has continued to be very, very good this year with over 100 strikeouts in the circle and had an 8-0 record through mid-April. Even in three losses since that time, Barnard still played well allowing just six total hits in those contests. As the leadoff hitter, she has hit around .400 this season through late April.
Ella Beeman | Rogers | JR
The Abilene Christian commit is the Lady Mounties’ ace in a very talented rotation and has progressed very well coming off an all-state sophomore campaign against a brutal schedule. Through April, she struck out 90 batters in 64 innings and compiled a 1.42 earned run average.
Madalynn “MJ” Bermingham | Bauxite | FR
Bermingham is one of two arms the Lady Miners primarily use and was recently tabbed by Legacy and Legends Softball as a Top 325 player nationally for the 2025 class. Through the regular season, Bermingham threw 81 innings, struck out 84 batters, and compiled an earned run average of 1.70.
McKenna Bittle | Greers Ferry West Side | SR
The multi-sport athlete and UA-Rich Mountain signee has plenty more to accomplish with the Lady Eagles over the next couple of weeks after leading them to a district tournament title in the rugged 1A-2. Through April, Bittle went 14-2 in the circle in 103 innings pitched striking out 188 batters with a 1.43 earned run average. At the plate she has batted .375 with a .444 on base percentage, 2 home runs, and a team-leading 24 runs batted in.
Izzy Brinkley | Murfreesboro | SO
Brinkley has been exceptional for the Lady Rattlers this season averaging at least one strikeout per inning while throwing over 1,800 pitches, 78% of which have been strikes, through April. Offensively she leads off at the plate and has batted .403 with an on base percentage of .476 while striking out only once.
“Izzy is a hard-working kid who carries her bat extremely well at the leadoff position,” Murfreesboro head coach Nicole Martin said. “Every time she steps in the circle, she aggressively attacks batters and gives us an opportunity to win every night.”
Ayla Buford | Taylor | FR
Buford has controlled the circle as an underclassman for the most dominant team in Class 1A. Through April, she has thrown 76 innings striking out 80 batters with a 2.02 earned run average against stiff non-conference competition along with many games that ended with Taylor enforcing the sportsmanship rule. She was one walked batter away from three perfect games in a row from April 11-14. At the plate she has hit .365 with an on base percentage of .459.
“Ayla shows she loves the game,” Taylor head coach Courtney McHenry said. “She is confident and composed while in the circle.”
Karley Burrow | Greene County Tech | JR
Burrow missed all of last season due to injury, but you would not know that based on her play as the Lady Golden Eagles’ ace compiling a 15-2 record with 108 strikeouts in 104 innings through May 4. Burrow also compiled a 1.31 earned run average in that span.
“Karley is the anchor to our staff,” GCT head coach David Reynolds said. “She can throw 4 pitches for strikes at any time in the count and competes at a high level in the circle”
Abby Busby | Searcy | SO
Busby has impressed in her sophomore season throwing three shutouts and two no-hitters while pitching 106 innings striking out 147 batters compiling a 1.71 earned run average along with a 1.06 WHIP through April.
“Abby’s been a competitor and very coachable,” Searcy head coach Matt Long said. “She understands that she doesn’t have to strike every batter and a well-placed pitch will get the same results with a good D.”
Emberlin Caldwell | Van Buren | JR
Caldwell’s numbers they do not jump off the sheet, but when you understand that she carries the load for the Lady Pointers every game of every inning, it makes her accomplishments even more impressive. Through April, Caldwell led the Lady Pointers to a 17-5 record and first place in the 5A-West while striking out 129 batters, a 1.41 WHIP, and an earned run average of 3.03. At the plate she has also smacked two home runs.
“Emberlin is a competitor,” Van Buren head coach Andy Williams said. “She pitches every inning for us, so she’s very durable. Pitching 14 innings a night isn’t ideal, but she wouldn’t want it any other way.”
Maddie Castleberry | Carlisle | JR
Castleberry is committed to play at Williams Baptist University and is one of the unquestioned leaders of a young Lady Bison squad. In the first round of the district tournament, Castleberry threw a complete game no-hitter and struck out 103 batters from the beginning of the year through district tournament play. She has held opposing batters to a .233 batting average throughout 119 innings in that timeframe.
Mackenzie Childers | Baptist Prep | SR
Childers, who will play her college softball at North Texas, has started for the Lady Eagles since her freshman year and helped produce a lot of success for them in her final high school season. Childers finished off last year with a bang throwing two innings in a 9-1 state championship victory against Hoxie, striking out all six batters that she faced. This season she has thrown 91 innings and given up just 6 earned runs while striking out 228 batters. She has compiled an outstanding .46 earned run average and a .27 WHIP. Childers has also been exceptional at the plate batting .478 with a .596 on base percentage with 12 home runs and 31 runs batted in through April. She has achieved all of this while also maintaining a 4.2 GPA.
Madison Cook | Ashdown | SO
As one of the top arms for the Lady Panthers, Cook has helped Ashdown consistently remain one of the top teams in Class 3A and is looking to make a push further in the final weeks of the season. Cook has compiled a 2.39 earned run average striking out 100 batters through April.
“It has been fun watching Mattie grow as a pitcher,” Ashdown head coach Ashlyn Pelotte said. “She has worked over the summer and the fall to add more pitches to her artillery and her hard work has paid off.”
Emma Crabb | Mountain Home | JR
Crabb has had some big moments this season, but two she will remember were a doubleheader sweep over Alma on May 3 to help Mountain Home clinch the final spot out of the 5A-West in the state tournament. She threw two complete games allowing zero earned runs and struck out 19 total batters. On the year, Crabb has 165 strikeouts in 102.3 innings pitched compiling a 2.81 earned run average.
“Emma has been phenomenal for us and kept us in many games this year stepping up in the ones that mattered the most,” Lady Bombers head coach Blake Hendricks said. “She does a great job of hitting spots and mixing locations. She is going to be a huge part of our team going forward.”
Haylee Crotts | Viola | SO
Crotts also lines up at third base for Viola when not in the circle, but she has been the primary arm for the Lady Longhorns throwing 96.6 innings and has struck out 94 batters through April. In that span at the plate, she has batted .516 with 11 doubles, 22 runs batted in, a home run, and has only struck out four times all year.
Lexi Dulaney | Hazen | FR
Against some of the top teams in Class 2A, Dulaney has gone 10-4 through April in the circle as the Lady Hornets’ ace throwing 82.2 innings striking out 125 (44 looking) and has held hitters to under a .135 batting average in conference play. She has been a workhorse at the plate as well batting .514 with an on base percentage of .642 batting in 19 runners.
Katlyn Erickson | Conway | SR
Erickson was the driving force in Conway winning eight of 10 games down the stretch to reach the state championship game last season and she has continued to handle essentially all the pitching duties for the Lady Wampus Cats this year per her head coach Chata Hickey. She has struck out over 120 batters through April.
Lexi Franklin | Booneville | SO
Franklin has been very good as the Lady Bearcats’ primary pitcher throwing over 100 innings and has three perfect games to her credit this year striking out 180 batters with a .88 earned run average through late April. Franklin also leads Booneville with a .464 batting average, 13 doubles, and 3 triples.
Makenzie Freeman | Hackett | FR
Freeman has just simply been outstanding this year. Hackett head coach Jeff Oxford has worked with her essentially her entire softball career, and she has been a “workhorse” the whole time. She has put up mind-blowing statistics the entire season, but none better than breaking an Arkansas state record clinching her fifth perfect game, and sixth no-hitter, of the year in a dominating 23-0 win over Cedarville on April 8.
“She will take the ball anytime she is given the chance,” Oxford said. “To say she is a beast would be an understatement.”
Maddie Fulmer | Ouachita | FR
Fulmer has had about as solid of a start that you could imagine for her high school career beginning with striking out 60 batters through the first six games. She had the highlight of her career so far on April 8 in a 15-0 win over Blevins in which she pitched a perfect game facing nine batters, striking out eight of them. Through April 27, she threw 85 innings and struck out 151 batters.
“Maddie gives the team the confidence that we can hang with anyone,” Ouachita head coach Corey Brown said.
Morgan Garner | Rector | SR
Garner is the primary pitcher for the Lady Cougs and through April has put together a 16-3 record striking out 122 batters in 106 innings. When she is not in the circle, the Williams Baptist signee holds down first base effectively. At the plate, she has batted .526 with a .597 on base percentage and 24 runs batted in.
“Morgan has had a fantastic senior season,” Rector head coach Chris Richardson said. “The Williams Baptist signee has been a do-it-all player in the circle as the Cougars ace and batting cleanup.
MaKaylie Gist | Tuckerman | SO
Gist has battled injuries throughout this season, but she has already proven to be one of not only the state’s best pitchers, but overall players. As a freshman last season, Gist helped Tuckerman win the 2A state title going 22-2 with an earned run average of 2.31 striking out 193 batters over 145 innings. This season, through April 27, Gist had pitched 41.1 innings with 56 strikeouts and a 2.03 earned run average. She was excellent in her return to the circle against Melbourne on April 23 throwing a no-hitter as the Lady Bulldogs clinched the 2A-2 regular season title.
“MaKaylie has a chance to change the game at any point,” Tuckerman head coach Matt Dillon said. “She is a true gamer and when she is healthy is very tough to beat.”
Savana Gist | Gosnell | SO
Gist has been the primary arm for the Lady Pirates and helped lead them to an undefeated 3A-3 regular season title putting up big numbers. In 119 innings she struck out 221 batters and walked just 31 compiling an earned run average of 1.53 through April.
Eva Godwin | Beebe | SO
The trio of Kierra Pickens, Godwin, and Jordyn Lefford all deserve a collective moment in the sun for what they have done in the circle for the Lady Badgers. Godwin has pitched double the innings Lefford has, but both have compiled a 2.1 earned run average while Godwin has struck out 70 batters in 51 innings. On offense while batting between third-fifth, Godwin has also hit over .500 this season.
Bella Harville | Magnet Cove | SO
Magnet Cove won the 2A-7 regular season title in which Harville was a driving force behind that run as the team’s ace pitcher and the Lady Panthers are hoping to win much more before the year is over. During regular season play, Harville threw 63 innings and struck out 92 batters. She put together a 9-2 record with a 1.33 earned run average. Offensively she has hit .432 and batted in 10 runners.
“Bella is very consistent and a very gritty competitor,” Magnet Cove head coach Hunter Vincent said. “She was the best player in the conference this season.”
Jalea Hawthorn | Cutter Morning Star | FR
Just as a freshman, Hawthorn has shown not only her talents at the plate and in the circle, but as a vocal leader. She also excels when not on the diamond owning a 4.0 GPA and was recently recognized at the Governor’s Mansion for academic excellence. At the plate, she has hit .565 with an on base percentage of .649 with 28 runs batted in, two home runs, and 10 stolen bases. In 87.2 innings pitched, she has 160 strikeouts and a 1.91 earned run average through late April.
“Jalea is one of the sparks that makes us run and is one of the hardest workers I have ever seen,” Cutter head coach Donnie Pogue said. “Her ‘lead by example’ attitude makes everyone around her want to be better.”
Alyssa Houston | Benton | JR
Houston is arguably the best overall athlete in the state for the 2023 class. Her abilities on the diamond are well-documented, but she is also outstanding on the basketball court having averaged a double-double this past season for the Lady Panthers. She is the 36th-ranked softball prospect in the 2023 class per Extra innings and is having another outstanding year building off a stellar sophomore season in which she smacked 12 home runs, two of them in the 5A state championship game. Through mid-April of this year, Houston was hitting .404 at the plate with 7 home runs and 22 runs batted in. She also struck out 90 batters and compiled a .62 earned run average in that span.
Hunter Hutto | Shirley | SO
Shirley has opened some eyes playing in the brutal 1A-2 conference and coming out of the regular season second only to Greers Ferry West Side. Hutto has been a key contributor to that success with a winning mentality each time out that has led to 138 punchouts in 107 innings compiling a 1.98 earned run average.
Callie Kilburn | Sheridan | SO
Through April, Kilburn is a solid 9-2 as a starter as a reliable arm in the circle for the Lady Jackets holding opposing batters to a .236 batting average. On May 3 she had a no-hitter in a 18-0 victory over Hot Springs to help the Lady Jackets clinch the 5A South. Offensively she bats in the leadoff spot hitting over .340.
Abi Koppein | Mena | FR
Though the Lady Bearcats are not done this season, the best years seem to be in front of them with the amount of young talent at their disposal beginning with Koppein. Mena has used three pitchers on a consistent basis this year with Koppein being the ace of the group, striking out a little more than one batter on average each time out in the circle.
“Abi has stepped up in the second half of the season,” Mena head coach Ray Hunter said. “She has worked her way to being a top pitcher.”
Alaina Lyle | Monticello | FR
We have featured multiple freshmen on each position list and Lyle is another one of the next big things in Arkansas. She has pitched mainly during the back end of the season due to injury but still put-up good numbers throwing 41.1 innings striking out 66 batters while only walking 5. She did not lose a single game and compiled a 1.36 earned run average through May. At the plate, Lyle hit .429 with 23 runs batted in and 6 home runs.
“Alaine is young and on the rise,” Monticello head coach Sarah Pace said.
Mackenzie Martin | Alma | SR
Martin is signed to play at Eastern State (Okla.) College and is a four-year starter for the Lady Airedales. Through April 25, Martin had achieved an 11-2 record as the team’s primary pitcher with 109 strikeouts, and a 2.81 earned run average. Martin has also been very good at the plate leading the team in batting average (.585) and 8 home runs.
Libby May | Atkins | SO
May currently has an offer from Arkansas Tech and throws a 60 MPH pitch with great spin and control. Through April, she recorded a 15-5 record with 114 strikeouts and a 2.22 earned run average playing against the likes of 3A No. 2 Lincoln three times, top-ranked Baptist Prep twice and 4A defending state champion Morrilton. At the plate, she has hit .444 with 23 runs batted in.
Keegan McCorkle | East Poinsett County | JR
McCorkle is the reigning 2A-3 Player of the Year and is likely to win it again following another impressive year in the circle and at the plate. Through the regular season, McCorkle compiled a 23-2 record and a .48 earned run average while striking out 243 batters. She is also a force with the bat in her hands hitting .542 with a .633 on base percentage, 36 runs batted in, and 9 home runs.
Maci McJunkins | Nashville | JR
The SAU signee has pitched against some of the top competition in all classifications throughout the state and held her own. Nashville head coach Boomer Brown mentioned that she is “fearless on the rubber” and one of her biggest assets is short memory. “If she makes a mistake, it never affects the next pitch or next batter.” Through April 26, McJunkins has thrown 101 innings and struck out 184 batters to just 13 walks and an earned run average of .69. Opposing batters have hit .138 against her.
“Maci pinpoints spots on several pitches as well as anybody I have ever coached,” Brown said. “She has great command of two different off-speed pitches that really keeps batters off balance.”
Lillie-Faye McWhorter | Woodlawn | FR
McWhorter is an exceptional talent and one of the top players in Arkansas regardless of classification and showed that off the bat throwing a no-hitter against Class 4A Warren in the Lady Bears’ 10-0 season-opening victory. She has been as good as anyone in the circle having already exceeded 65 MPH and thrown 83 innings walking just 19 batters while striking out 177 through district tournament play. She has an incredible .25 earned run average on the season and was about as good as you could ask in the 2A-8 district tournament striking out 26 batters and allowing just 6 hits in wins over Junction City and Fordyce. She has also been the top hitter for the Lady Bears and had multiple walk-off home runs.
Ainslee Moore | Bradley | SO
Moore is one of the harder throwers in the state, touching 60+ on a consistent basis and has recently “been hitting 65 with a nasty curveball,” Moore’s father and Bradley head coach Clifford Moore said. A slump, plus the flu, held Moore back some this year but she has still struck out 94 batters and tossed four no-hitters through April. Offensively she hit .400 with a slugging percentage of .571 with 14 runs batted in.
“Ainslee came in as a freshman with a softball mentality of a senior, and she loves this game along with the sisterhood of a team,” Moore added. “She finds her strength in her team and is hungry for a state championship title with her fellow Lady Bears.”
Kiki Pickens | Beebe | JR
Pickens has been the ace for a stellar corps of pitchers on the Lady Badgers’ roster and is a big reason they are one of the top teams in all of Class 5A. Pickens has been as consistent as you could ask batting around the .530 mark and smacking nine home runs through late April. In the circle she has thrown 69 innings compiling a 1.60 earned run average striking out 100 batters in that time.
Lydia Polk | Wonderview | JR
The Oklahoma Wesleyan commit has shined for the DirtDevils both in the circle as well as at the plate where she “packs a punch” per Wonderview head coach Bradley Goodin batting .327 with an on base percentage of .411 along with 4 doubles and 2 home runs through the regular season. While pitching in that same time frame, Polk has struck out 120 batters and posted a 3.50 earned run average.
“Lydia leads by example in the circle and she brings a toughness that I love each game,” Goodin said. “She is our workhorse. She works hard on her spots and spins to keep hitters off balance.”
Malorie Pullin | Smackover | SR
Lady Bucks assistant coach David Preston describes Pullin as “simply a beast on the field.” She leads the team in batting average and is top three is almost every offensive category batting .429 with a .486 on base percentage and a home run. In the circle, she has an earned run average just over one and has struck out 220 batters.
Holly Raney | Mayflower | FR
Raney received a local Player of the Week award towards the end of April and has been making plays for the Lady Eagles all year as one of their primary contributors. At the plate, she has hit just under .400 through April with a .440 on base percentage but has also struck out 90 batters and gone 9-3 in 66 innings pitching. Raney has compiled a 1.49 earned run average.
Ryann Sanders | Bentonville | SO
Sanders is the other arm alongside Kasey Wood that has been devastating to opposing batters this year striking out 96 in 69.2 innings winning 11 games with only 1 loss through May 3. Her earned run average in that span is 1.61. One of her more outstanding performances was in a 5-0 win over Rogers striking out 14 batters to help Bentonville clinch the 2022 6A West title on April 28.
Elana Scott | Benton | SR
The hard-throwing Scott is a lethal combination with aforementioned Alyssa Houston and through April 20 faced 193 batters in 51.2 innings pitched striking out 80 of them and boasting a stellar .41 earned run average even better from her .60-mark last season. When not in the circle she plays in the outfield. In that timeframe she also batted .449.
Kenzie Soden | Tuckerman | JR
Soden is considered the closer for the Lady Bulldogs but has been great all the way around highlighted by two perfect games thrown this season. Along with her consistency at the plate, Soden has also hit .386 with a .493 on base percentage with 22 runs batted in and 9 doubles.
“Kenzie has ice water in her veins,” Tuckerman head coach Matt Dillon said. “She can come in any situation and give us the lift that we need.”
Cooper Terry | Sheridan | FR
Terry was listed by Legacy & Legends Softball as the 178th-best player overall for the 2025 class and she will continue to climb those ranks if she keeps up the progression she has shown this season. Through April, Terry has faced 268 batters striking out 100 of them in 61 innings and has thrown four no-hitters. At the plate she has hit .379 and struck out only four times. Sheridan head coach Scott Hoffman mentioned Terry bats second because “she is a tough out, always puts it in play.”
“Pitching wise, when she is locked in she is just devastating,” Hoffman said.
Annie Watson | Harding Academy | JR
As every pitcher does in this game, Watson has experienced ups and downs in 2022 but has really figured things out in the second part of the season with a 10-1 record with 67 strikeouts and a 2.61 earned run average in that 11-game span. Through April, Watson has struck out 101 batters, 77 of them looking. Offensively she has hit .471 with a .591 on base percentage batting in the leadoff spot.
“Annie strikes out plenty [of batters], but she spins and spots it so well that she throws a lot of bad contact,” Lady Wildcats head coach Rusty Garner said. “We just try to make out behind her.”
Aly White | Bryant | SR
White was a new addition to the Lady Hornets’ pitching staff this year and has helped immensely both in the circle along with becoming one of the top contributors at the plate batting .432 with a .600 on base percentage through April in the cleanup spot.
“Aly is a very strong, athletic pitcher that just seems to be getting better each game,” Bryant head coach Lisa Dreher said. “She has a high strike percentage that allows her to pitch 7 innings when needed.”
Brooklynn White | CAC | JR
The Southern Miss commit got her junior season rolling strong, striking out 19 batters in the opener against Robinson and has not looked back as the winner of 14 games for the Lady Mustangs through April. In that time, White has struck out 134 opposing batters holding them to a .178 batting average and has compiled a 1.46 earned run average. She has been very consistent at the plate as well batting .509 with an on base percentage of .594 with 13 home runs and 41 runs batted in.
“Brooklynn is a very talented pitcher and our team is lucky to have her,” CAC head coach Lynne Brown said. “She works hard every day at practice doing lessons and working out to continue to improve.”
Kasey Wood | Bentonville | JR
Wood is a future Razorback and the 36th-ranked overall player in the 2023 class per Extra Innings. She is one of the two big-armed pitchers for the Lady Tigers and has thrown 56 innings striking out 76 batters with a .88 earned run average through May 3. She threw a perfect game against Springdale on April 7. When not in the circle, Wood typically lines up at third base or shortstop and bats leadoff at the plate. She has hit .453 with a .518 on base percentage and smacked 2 home runs on offense.
Madison Wooldridge | Brookland | SO
Wooldridge was held back from pitching this season due to injury, but her potential is soaring as Extra Innings’ current 95th-ranked Pitcher/Utility and 172nd best player overall for the class of 2024. She was used primarily at shortstop and third base this season and compiled an .894 fielding percentage on 47 total chances. At the plate, she hit .466 in 71 appearances with 9 doubles and 13 runs batted in.