LAWRENCEVILLE, Ga. - In exclusive balloting by the head softball coaches of the SCAC, defending league championSouthwestern University was tabbed as the preseason favorite to capture the Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference title in 2014.
Southwestern University headlines the annual poll as Head Coach Angela Froboese returns for his sixth season at the helm. She is the first and only head coach in the Pirates history and has already claimed two SCAC titles in her short stint and the Pirates earned 44 votes and two first place votes. The Pirates also made an appearance in the NCAA Regional a year ago, competing in a very tough region hosted by UT-Tyler. Southwestern not only wants to make a return trip to this year's regional, they want to win it.
Offensive power has never been a concern for the Pirates and this season is no exception. Last year, the Pirates were sixth in the nation with a .360 team batting average, fourth in doubles at four per game and seventh in slugging percentage (.520). Senior All-Region picks Karen Ramirez and Tessa Galloway lead the way at the plate. Ramirez was fifth in the nation in doubles per game last year and had a .396 batting average while Galloway was in the top 100 nationally in doubles and RBI's while posting a .399 batting average. Senior Kayla Irvin narrowly trailed with a .377 batting average, but the biggest potential threat comes from sophomore Christina Crandall who led Southwestern with a .429 batting average in a pinch hitter role. In 28 at bats she had 12 hits with eight RBI's and will help fill the void of last year's offensive power.
The biggest unknown for the Pirates will be in the circle as the only pitcher with any experience is Irwin. However, the Pirate coaching staff came away very impressed with their first years in the circle and feel as though they will be able to compete and be successful right off the bat. Watch Southwestern Softball Media Days
Texas Lutheran University comes in second, earning 40 votes as well as three first place vote. The Bulldogs are led by Head Coach Wade Wilson as the program prepares for its first season in the SCAC after winning the American Southwest Conference (ASC) Western Division title in 2013. The Bulldogs will be talented in 2014 as they welcome back skilled student-athletes from their team a year ago.
The Bulldogs may be one of the strongest teams up the middle as they welcome back junior Ashley Jacobson and sophomore Grace Estes. An All-Region and All-ASC recipient a year ago, Jacobson hit .434 with 59 runs scored and a school-record 42 stolen bases. Jacobsen ranks fourth in NCAA DIII for steals per game (1.02) and 13th in DIII for runs per game (1.44). She also ranks 34th in the toughest-to-strikeout category. She struck out only four times all season.
Meanwhile, Estes was an ASC All-Tournament selection and hit .410 during the season as the team's everyday shortstop. She collected 55 hits, 12 doubles, drove in 27 and scored 27. She also stole 12 bases. Senior Molly Gorrie and sophomore Taylor Yancey will also look to make an impact this season.
TLU does lose their two top starters from a year ago, but return sophomore Elyse Hlavinka, who made 13 appearance with a 2.20 ERA, a 1-0 record, and one save. Texas Lutheran will have to rely on some first year pitchers to determine how far they will go, but the coaching staff feels confident in what these young arms can do. Watch Texas Lutheran Softball Media Days
Trinity University also finishes in second, earning 40 votes and two first place votes. The Tigers are led by third year Head Coach Brandi Crnkovic as they look to break through and reclaim the SCAC Championship. Trinity has made the SCAC Championship Game a year ago, but dropped both games to Southwestern. Trinity looks to bounce back with a talented group and get back to SCAC Championship.
The Tigers lose some talent, but do welcome back many student-athletes from last year's team. Senior Brooke Sanchez put together one of the best indvidual seasons in Trinity softball history a season ago, earning SCAC Player of the Year honors. Sanchez was second in Division III with 42 stolen bases this season, which was a new Trinity and SCAC record for one year. She has also broken the Tiger softball single season and single game records in hits, steals, and runs scored.
Junior Brittany Haby also returns, as she hit .370 a year ago with five doubles, one triple, one homerun, and 15 RBIs. Junior Caitlynn Dykes also returns as she led the team with 22 RBIs as well as last year's national leader in sacrifices, senior Chrissy Armstrong
In the circle, Trinity welcomes back Kaci Wellik who finished with a 12-5 record to go with a 2.92 ERA in 108.0 innings pitched. She finished with an impressive 88 strikeouts to only 26 walks. The Tigers will look to some younger arms to provide relief to Wellik. Watch Trinity Softball Media Days
Austin College returns in 2014 as they were chosen to finish fourth overall with 25 votes. The 'Roos are led by second year Head Coach Andrea Vangoss who took last year's group to a 6-9 SCAC record and fourth overall in the SCAC. This season, the 'Roos look to make some noise in conference with a talented bunch returning.
Leading the way this season will be tri-captains Mallory Rossmann, Taylor Steelman, and Sophia Hernandez. All three were named All-SCAC last season, led by Hernandez being named as a second team All-Conference honoree after batting .354 with six home runs and 20 RBI. She also led the team with six wins as the team's top pitcher.
Rossmann had four doubles and a .970 fielding percentage from her catcher position, and Steelman hit .262 and scored 13 runs in her first year in the program. Also back this season is Briana Hernandez, who was another second team All-SCAC selection after hitting seven home runs and driving in 28 runs to lead the team in both categories. Austin College also returns some younger players and brings in some younger talent who look to make an impact. Watch Austin College Softball Media Days
Centenary College is predicted to finish fifth in the conference with 19 votes. The Ladies come off a 7-9 SCAC season where they finished third in the conference. First year Head Coach Amanda Nordberg takes over this program and has a lot of optimism going forward in Shreveport.
Seniors Nicole Warren and Lynsi Unruh will be key contributors for the Ladies and their success this season. The duo ranked among the top five hitters for the Ladies’ this season while Warren ranks second on the team in hits with 31. Unruh picked up All-SCAC laurels for her work in the circle. The hurler registered 107 strikeouts on the season while recording eight of the Maroon and White’s wins on the season.
Junior Cadie Hancock will also be a key returner as she has four homers a year ago. Centenary also brings in some younger players who look to play a roll this seaosn. Watch Centenary Softball Media Days
The other newcomer in the SCAC, Schreiner University, earned 15 votes as they are slated to finish sixth in the SCAC. Second year Head Coach Jessica Perterka returns to the Mountaineers as they look to make some improvements and make a splash in the new conference.
Senior Victoria Alcozer returns as one of the top hitter for Schreiner as she returns with a team leading six doubles and a home run as well as nine runs scored. Senior Brianna Brunner also returns as one of the top hitters from a year ago.
Schreiner will have many new faces as nine newcomers come into the program. The staff is excited as to what this group can bring and hopes they can make an impact from the first game going forward. Watch Schreiner Softball Media Days
The University of Dallas round out the SCAC Predicted Order of Finish with 10 votes going to the Crusaders. First year Head Coach Beth Krysiak comes in as she looks to pick Dallas up after a tough 2013 season. With new players coming in as well as some talent returning, Coach Krysiak feels confident that Dallas will improve in 2014.
Junior Taylor Garcia returns after an outstanding season where she hit .506 with a team leading 14 doubles, two triples, four home runs, and 37 RBIs, all leading the team. Sophomore Erin Beagle also returns after hitting 10 doubles with 16 RBIs and 31 runs scored.
In the circle, Ashley Pickert returns as the only pitcher with experience. However, the Crusaders will call on some newcomers to lead the way. Watch Dallas Softball Media Days
The 2014 season gets underway this weekend.
Click here to view the composite 2014
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|2014 SCAC Softball Preseason Poll|
||No. of Votes||2013 SCAC||2013 Overall|
|1. Southwestern University
|T-2. Texas Lutheran University*||40 (3)||N/A||33-10|
|T-2. Trinity University||40 (2)||13-2||27-16|
|4. Austin College
|5. Centenary College
|6. Schreiner University*
|7. University of Dallas
Note: First-place votes (in parentheses) are worth seven points, second place worth six points, on down to 7th-place votes being worth one point. Coaches voted for order of finish 1-7.
*Schreiner and Texas Lutheran competed in the American Southwest Conference last season