Trojan Softball Ranked 20th in Preseason Poll

LOUISVILLE, Ky. – With the season slated to open on Sunday, the Anderson softball team is ranked 20th in the initial 2014 National Fastpitch Coaches Association (NFCA) Preseason Poll, as released late Wednesday morning.

The Trojans were predicted to finish second in the South Atlantic Conference Coaches’ Preseason Poll, which was released earlier this week, after claiming second in the league last season. Anderson is coming off a record-setting season a year ago and their first-ever appearance in the NCAA Tournament.

AU advanced to the Southeast Super Regional, hosted by Armstrong Atlantic State, last season and earned a No. 12 national ranking in the final 2013 NFCA poll.

Joining the Trojans as the lone representatives from the Southeast Region are the Peach Belt Conference’s Armstrong (5th) and North Georgia (15th).

Central Oklahoma (51-11) will begin defense of its 2013 national championship as the unanimous No. 1 selection in the poll. The Bronchos picked up all 16 possible first-place votes from the members of the NFCA Division II Top 25 Committee to commandeer the top position, while last season’s national runner-up Kutztown (37-22) followed closely behind in second.

Despite losing head coach Genny Stidham to Texas Woman’s University during the offseason, UCO and interim head coach Cody White return eight starters off last year’s NCAA title-winning squad, including a pair of NFCA All-Central Region selections in senior pitcher Kalynn Schrock (34-6 record, 1.69 ERA, 312 strikeouts in 265.2 innings) and sophomore second baseman Ally Dziadula (.355 average, 58 runs scored, five HR’s, 11 stolen bases, 21 RBIs).
 

Kutztown, the defending Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference (PSAC) champion, returns six starters from its 2013 team, including senior outfielder and two-time All-PSAC choice Jackie Hetzler (.310 average, 46 stolen bases), senior first baseman and 2013 All-PSAC and NFCA All-Atlantic Region selection Colleen Smith (.364 average, 14 HR’s, 53 RBIs) and junior pitcher Dominique Ficara (21-13 record in 237 innings with a conference best nine shutouts in 2013).

A trio of 2013 NCAA DII Championship finalists, Grand Valley State (46-9), Humboldt State (53-14) and Armstrong Atlantic State (44-10-1), rounded out the top five.

2012 national champ Valdosta State (46-13), Indianapolis (54-8) and Alabama Huntsville (43-17) were listed at sixth, seventh and ninth, respectively. No. 8 West Texas A&M (44-13) and No. 10 Southeastern Oklahoma State (45-9) were among the biggest movers in the preseason poll, climbing from among those “receiving votes” in the final 2013 rankings into the new top 10.

Joining the Lady Buffs and the Savage Storm as additions to the 2014 preseason listing were No. 11 LIU Post (47-15), No. 15 North Georgia (36-14), No. 21 UC San Diego (33-25), No. 22 Augustana SD (32-17), No. 23 Dixie State (40-14) and No. 24 Barry (34-20).

In all, eight squads dropped from last year’s final rankings:  Molloy (No. 6), Winona State (No. 10), Cal State Dominguez Hills (No. 13), Adelphi (No. 14), St. Edward’s (No. 15), Fort Hays State (No. 16), West Chester (No. 17) and Minnesota State Mankato (No. 25).

The NFCA Division II Top 25 Poll is voted on by 16 NCAA Division II head coaches with two representing each of the eight NCAA regions. Final 2013 records are shown, first-place votes are in parentheses.

Anderson plays host to Lees-McRae in the Trojans’ season-opener on Sunday. First-pitch at Smethers Field is scheduled for 1 p.m.

NFCA Division II Preseason Softball Poll – January 29, 2014
 
Rank Team 2013
Record Totals Final 2013 Poll

1 Central Oklahoma (16) 51-11 400 1
2 Kutztown 37-22 376 2
3 Grand Valley State 46-9 346 4
4 Humboldt State 53-14 340 5
5 Armstrong Atl. State 44-10-1 338 3
6 Valdosta State 46-13 303 7
7 Indianapolis 54-8 276 9
8 West Texas A&M 44-13 272 RV
9 Alabama-Huntsville 43-17 266 11
10 SE Oklahoma State 45-9 250 RV
11 LIU Post 47-15 220 NR
12 St. Martin's 41-16 194 21
13 Tampa 33-10 189 19
14 Texas Woman's Univ. 51-14 185 8
15 North Georgia 36-14 179 NR
16 California (Pa.) 38-6 148 20
17 Angelo State 37-18 125 23
18 Missouri-St. Louis 41-13 106 22
19 Caldwell 45-12 104 24
20 Anderson (SC) 40-15 102 12
21 UC San Diego 33-25 96 NR
22 Augustana (SD) 32-17 78 NR
23 Dixie State 40-14 47 RV
24 Barry 34-20 41 RV
25 Columbus State 41-18 40 18

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