First pitch of the DII softball season is about for Feb. 1. With the NFCA preseason ballot set to drop subsequent week, it’s time to try who the contenders are for the 2019 season.
Final yr, Southern Indiana went from the eight seed to nationwide champion, sweeping its manner by means of the DII softball championship bracket in 5 straight video games. That offers the Screaming Eagles the straightforward high spot within the preseason ballot. Here is a have a look at how we count on to see the highest 10 fill out.
The primary 5:
Southern Indiana: Two phrases for you: Jennifer Leonhardt. Leonhardt was the primary pitcher in Screaming Eagles historical past to earn All-American honors, and she or he did it as a freshman in 2017. Final season, she was the Most Excellent Participant of the DII softball championship, opening with a one-hit shutout of No. 1 North Georgia and a no-hitter over Southern Arkansas. She’s again for her junior season, and Southern Indiana must be simply positive.
Saint Anselm: Morgan Perry, Courtney Fisher and Abbie Murrell mixed to go 44-13 final season with a three.86 ERA all the way in which to the championship collection. All three are again and can assist for a staff that might want to discover a energy surge with main slugger Megan Murrell misplaced to commencement. Nonetheless, getting three pitchers again within the circle with postseason expertise is large.
North Georgia: Main hitter again? Test. Arguably the perfect pitcher in DII softball again? Test. The No. 1-seeded Nighthawks from a yr in the past misplaced some massive items in Sydney Sprague and Amber Johns however have loads within the tank to exchange them. Kaylyn Anthony, who led the staff in hitting with a .367 common, and Shelby Hammontree, who was second with 14 dwelling runs, return to the lineup whereas the NFCA DII Participant of the Yr, Kylee Smith returns to the circle. Smith led DII softball in ERA (zero.59), wins (36), and strikeouts (338) in 2018 and there’s little motive to count on something much less in 2019.
Chico State: The Wildcats lose an enormous energy bat in Karli Skowrup, however that’s the one massive loss from a lineup that made historical past successful its first-ever CCAA championship final season on the way in which to Salem, Virginia for the DII softball championship. Kristen Worley, Amanda Flores, Wendy Cardinali, and Bailey Akins present sufficient common and energy to be a convention menace as soon as once more. Hailey Gilham is gone, however Naomi Monahan (15-1, 2.83 ERA) and a few transfers are again to pitch for Chico State.
Lions tabbed to complete first in @D2SSC Softball Preseason Coaches Ballot. Saint Leo acquired 94 complete factors with six first-place votes from the 11 head coaches.
— Saint Leo Softball (@SaintLeoSB) January 18, 2019
Saint Leo: The Lions gave Southern Indiana its hardest take a look at in Salem final yr, bowing out of the event within the semifinals in an extra-inning thriller. The highest 4 hitters from that lineup return, all of whom batted over .300, which is large for a staff not primarily based across the lengthy ball. Alison Mitts is gone, however Auria Mounts regarded like an ace final season and should not have any downside doing so once more.
The subsequent 5:
Southern Arkansas: There are two causes the Muleriders aren’t within the high 5: Brooke Goad and Jill Roye. Goad ended her career in Magnolia as DII softball’s all-time home run champion, and Roye completed her illustrious profession with a .364 common, 21 dwelling runs, and 107 RBI. That’s loads to exchange, however Jason Anderson’s groups are at all times massive within the dwelling run division. With Goad now on the teaching workers, they need to be loads of enjoyable to look at in 2019.
Texas A&M-Commerce: You might be shocked to see the Lions within the high 10, particularly after shedding senior Mariah Jameyson who had a monster 2018 batting .510 with 23 dwelling run and RBI. However there may be loads returning, together with each Emily Otto and Katie Dean within the circle, in addition to Kinsie Hebler who hit .413 with 19 dwelling runs and 73 RBI final season.
Right here’s your Lions with their regional championship rings!!! pic.twitter.com/zgtCZso1To
— Lion_Softball (@Lion_Softball) December 7, 2018
Angelo State: The Rambelles lose two large pitchers in Morgan Hill and Brandy Marlett, however have some youth which may be able to step in, like Hill’s youthful sister Meagan. That lineup, nonetheless, returns its three massive sluggers as Taegan Kirk, Karina Rocha, and Courtney Barnhill deliver again a mixed 48 dwelling runs and 163 RBI.
Alabama-Huntsville: The Chargers are an NCAA event staple and had one other massive season final yr. They misplaced Brooke Miller from that 39-win lineup… and that’s it. Eight gamers who hit .300 or higher in 50 or extra begins return as does ace Layton Murphy. Based mostly on the expertise and a Tremendous Regional run in 2018, this staff may very well be poised for an amazing season.
Winona State: This can be a bit excessive, however West Chester, a nationwide quarterfinals staff a yr in the past, misplaced too many items to make the rankings, leaving a spot open for a shock. The Warriors are one other staff with a positive variety of returners together with not one, however two within the lineup who hit above .400. Lani Van Zyl ought to garner some early season participant of the yr discuss after posting a 1.353 OPS in 2018, hitting .473 with 18 doubles, 13 dwelling runs, and 59 RBI. Although they misplaced McKenna Larsen, Jordyn Kleman returns to the circle after posting a 19-2 document with a 1.86 ERA and greater than a strikeout per inning final yr.