SUWANEE, Ga. – Based on exclusive voting by the head coaches of the Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference (SCAC), DePauw University edged out Southwestern University by a single vote as the team to beat in the race for the 2011 conference softball title.
The Tigers will have a different look going into the 2011 campaign with the graduation of three-time All-American and SCAC Pitcher-of-the-Year Megan Soultz. Soultz posted a career earned run average of 1.22 in 898 innings of work, along with SCAC records in wins (112) and strikeouts (779). DePauw does return five all-conference performers from a year ago, including senior Emma Minx and junior Jen Kosinski who were both named first team All-SCAC in 2010. Minx posted a junior campaign in which she batted .400 with 52 hits, 45 RBIs and scored 38 runs as the Tigers' second baseman. Just 32 hits away from the 150 hits club, Minx is ninth all-time in the SCAC in triples with nine. Kosinski looks to build off a sophomore year that saw her hit a league-leading .403 with 60 hits, 49 runs scored and 49 runs batted in.
DePauw, who has put together five consecutive 30 plus win seasons, posted a 15-1 record in conference play en route to a 40-9 overall record in 2010 and advanced to the NCAA Softball World Series for the second time in school history. The 40 win mark ties the record for the most wins in a single season in SCAC history, a mark previously set by the 2008 DU Tigers.
In what will be its final season in the SCAC, DePauw garnered five coaches' votes in the preseason poll, while Southwestern University received four votes and Austin College picked up the final vote.
As for the division races, DePauw is picked to lead the way in the Eastern Division with four of five first-place votes. Birmingham-Southern College was tabbed to finish second, receiving the remaining first-place vote in the division. Rhodes College, who returns two SCAC first team all-conference performers from a year ago, is picked to finish third. Centre College was selected fourth while Sewanee-University of the South was predicted to finish fifth.
Defending SCAC Champion Southwestern is the pick to win the Western Division and received four out of five first-place votes. In just their second year as a varsity program, the Pirates battled their way out of the losers' bracket to win the 2010 SCAC tournament title. Southwestern returns two all-conference performers from a year ago in junior pitcher Lyndsy Maus and sophomore first baseman Haley Hughes. Maus posted a record of 17-6 with an ERA of 1.82 in 146 innings of work and 116 strikeouts. Just a freshman, Hughes led the Pirates with a .387 batting average and a league-high 60 hits. Hughes also scored 34 runs while batting in 47 and paced the SCAC with 20 doubles last season.
The 2010 SCAC Newcomer-of-the-Year, Emily Spicer, returns to help guide Millsaps College, which received the remaining first-place vote and was picked to finish second in the SCAC West. Trinity University, which is under the leadership of new head coach Selena Collins, was picked third. Austin College – led by senior slugger Stefanie Faith – was selected fourth while Hendrix College was predicted to finish fifth in the very deep West division.
At the 2010 SCAC Softball Championships held at Hendrix College, Southwestern rattled off five straight games out of the losers' bracket to earn the conference tournament title, including a 5-4, 11-inning victory over Rhodes in the longest tournament game in SCAC history and capped by an 8-5 victory over Millsaps in the championship game. The Pirates became just the second team in SCAC softball tournament history to win two games on the final day and earn the conference crown. As the league's automatic qualifier, Southwestern traveled to Louisiana College to compete in the NCAA regional, falling just short against East Texas Baptist University in the regional final.
DePauw, who was selected to host an NCAA regional for the second straight season, earned a Pool C berth to the 2010 NCAA Championships – becoming just the second SCAC softball team in the 12-year history of the sport to earn an at-large bid. The Tigers defeated Ohio Northern 5-4 in the region final to advance to the Softball World Series for the second time in program and conference history and first since 2007. DePauw defeated Ithaca, 6-3, in its first contest before falling in two straight games to Linfield (Ore.) College and Eastern Connecticut State University.
To view the entire 2011 SCAC Softball predicted order of finish, click here.