Contributed by Taylor Shirley/AU Athletics
Softball America released its 2021 Top 100 Collegiate Players last week, and two Tigers earned a spot in the publication’s preseason rankings.
After ending her debut season part of SA’s Top 100 of 2020, junior pitcher Samantha Yarbrough remains in the rankings at No. 68. Transferring into the program from Ole Miss, Kaylee Horton checks in at No. 90.
Yarbrough appeared in 13 contests, primarily as a relief pitcher. The right-hander earned a starting role over the final two weeks of the shortened 2020 season with three starts, two of which were complete-game efforts.
Over her debut season with the Tigers, Yarbrough went 6-0 in the circle with a save. She allowed just eight runs over 48.2 innings. Dishing out over 16 innings of scoreless softball, Yarbrough recorded a 1.15 ERA to rank sixth among SEC pitchers. The Fairhope, Alabama, native allowed just 24 hits and held opponents to a .147 average at the plate.
Horton, a transfer from Ole Miss, did compete for the Rebels in 2020, but her defensive strength and pop at the plate is poised for a breakout 2021 campaign for Auburn.
During her junior season at Ole Miss, Horton was named to the SEC All-Defensive team after committing just one error in right field. The Jasper, Alabama, native started 61 games and closed the 2019 season with a .290 average, adding 31 runs and 28 RBI.
Horton was tied for second in the SEC with five triples. She added four doubles for a .364 slugging percentage. She tallied 13 multi-hit and eight multi-RBI games for the Rebels. On the base paths, Horton went 23-for-29 in steal attempts to rank fourth in the league.
Making waves ahead of her collegiate debut, Auburn softball newcomer Maddie Penta was named one of Softball America’s Top 25 College Freshmen this week.
The publication ranked both true freshmen as well as student-athletes that held on to their freshman classification due to COVID-19 pandemic shortening the 2020 season.
Penta, a right-handed pitcher, was ranked No. 9 overall by Softball America. Accounting for just true freshmen, Penta was tabbed fourth.
The Chesapeake City, Maryland, native joins Auburn’s rotation after being ranked the No. 2 overall recruit of the 2020 class by FloSoftball. She led Bohemia Manor to three straight state championships and is a two-time Maryland Gatorade Player of the Year.
A 2019 USA Today High School All-American, Penta was lights-out in the circle for Bohemia Manor. Penta concluded her prep career with a 49-1 record, a 0.07 ERA and 762 strikeouts in only 321 innings pitched.
Just as much of a threat at the plate, Penta slugged 18 home runs over her final two seasons of prep softball.