2019 SLIAC Softball Poll

SLIAC coaches have picked the two-time defending regular season champions, Westminster College, as the preseason favorites for the 2019 softball season. Greenville University, Spalding University, and Fontbonne University round out the predicted playoff field for this spring.

The Blue Jays are the two-time defending SLIAC regular season champions

Westminster went 22-18 overall and 16-2 in the SLIAC last season, capturing their second consecutive conference regular season title. They received 78 points and seven first place votes from the coaches in the preseason poll. They will bring back seven starters from last year's team and welcome in first-year head coach Sara Stafford. Stafford has a solid nucleaus coming back that includes three First Team All-Conference players. Heading up the list of returners is last years SLIAC Pitcher of the Year, Katie Price. Price earned All-Region honors and is just as dangerous at the plate as she is in the circle. She hit .350 with 27 runs batted in while piling up 14 wins and 122 strikeouts as a pitcher. The Blue Jays also bring back 2018 SLIAC Newcomer of the Year, Emily Holloway. Holloway hit .355 with 19 RBI and a .460 slugging percentage as a freshman last season. Brooke Laidley busted out last season as a sophomore, hitting .391 with four home runs and 30 RBI in earning All-Region honors. Coach Stafford is counting on deeper pitching to improve her team this season and will look to newcomers Susan Buchanan, Hannah Schroeder, and Bailee Zemianek to compete for playing time.

Greenville has won three consecutive SLIAC Tournament titles, the last two coming under head coach Buddy Foster

Greenville was picked second in the poll with 70 points, receiving two first-place votes. The Panthers, coached by Buddy Foster, have won three straight SLIAC Tournament titles and return seven starters from last year's team that went 21-17 overall and 15-3 in the SLIAC. After the graduation of their top three hitters the Panthers will have a new makeup of the team, relying on their pitching and defense this season. The Panthers bring back their top three pitchers (Kendall Farr, Caitie Opp, and Maegan Stone) while adding junior college transfer, Deidra Holzhauer. Stone led the team with nine wins last season, earning Second Team All-Conference honors, while Opp was second on the team in innings pitched and Farr threw 35 innings as a freshman. Farr will not only see time in the circle but will find her name in the lineup as well when not pitching. She hit .333 last season with five home runs and 26 runs batted in. Rounding out the lineup will be Beth Mersinger (.297 average with 3 home runs) and Megan Barrett (.276 average and eight stolen bases). Kayla Zimmerman is another junior college transfer that could help at the plate.

Olivia Carter was 2nd Team All-Conference as a freshman last year after hitting .433 and picking up 9 wins as a pitcher.

Spalding received 62 points and the remaining first-place vote to come in 3rd on the poll. The Golden Eagles were just 17-16 last season, missing the tournament, but return 14 players and eight starters from last year's squad. Head Coach Art Williams will be looking on the development of a pair of players who earned All-Conference honors last year as freshmen; Olivia Carter and Jennifer Peffley. Carter, a catcher and pitcher, hit .433 with 23 runs batted in at the plate while also leading the team in innings pitched and recording nine wins as a pitcher. Peffley, an outfielder, hit .386 last year with 11 stolen bases. Addie Morris, a junior outfielder, earned Third Team All-Conference honors after hitting .404 last season and totaled 14 stolen bases. Also back are senior leaders Mac Henderson and Lindsey Hubbard. A trio of freshmen (Avery Morris, Chloe Skorja, and Molly Wallace) will add to the team's depth.

The Griffins notched 13 SLIAC wins in the first year with head coach Casey Cromwell, extending the programs consecutive tournament streak to 10 seasons.

Fontbonne received 62 points in the poll, tying for 3rd. Head Coach Casey Cromwell challenged her team early on last season, finishing her first season with the team with a 13-23 overall record with all 13 wins coming in conference play. The Griffins return six starters, headlined by the All-Conference battery of senior pitcher Maddy Strickland and senior catcher Emelia Modglin. Strickland worked over 110 innings in the circle last season, recording seven wins and 66 strikeouts. Modglin meanwhile hit .318 with three home runs and 22 RBI and remains dangerous behind the plate, throwing out nine runners on the base paths. The senior laden team also returns infielder Emily Cardwell, who had a .326 average and a team high 10 stolen bases, as well as utility player Diamond Thomas and infielder Melanie Russo. Lexi Becker, Grace Harlin, and Gracie Morris come to campus after highly successful high school careers.

Junior Abby Burroughs is a two-time All-Conference performer with 10 career home runs.

Finishing 5th on the poll was Webster University with 52 total points. The Gorloks were 18-17 overall and advanced to the conference tournament last season. First-year head coach Katie Griffith will have six starters returning but gone are their top two pitchers and top three hitters. Kaitlyn Johnson worked 70 innings last season and takes over as the team's go to player in the circle. The Gorlok lineup will feature Abby Burroughs, an athletic junior who hit .306 with three home runs with 22 runs batted in. Senior Brienna Sheperd, hit .291 with 17 runs scored one year ago while Amanda Kraus, a sophomore, hit .276 in limited time as a freshman. A pair of transfers, Breelyn Craig and Darian Morlan, as well as freshman HaleyJohnson could help fill voids in the lineup.

The Red Devils finished the year with a 25-9 overall record, amassing 11 conference wins in 2018.

Eureka comes in 6th on the poll with 37 points. The Red Devils were 25-9 overall and 11-7 in the SLIAC last season under head coach Debi Neff. However they will have a new look this year with just six players and four starters coming back. The young team will have no seniors and be anchored by a pair of Third Team All-Conference performers, Morgan Osborn and Erin Smith. Catcher Morgan Osborn hit .346 with five home runs and 25 runs batted in last season while Smith, a pitcher, threw a team high 107 innings while recording 53 strikeouts and 12 wins. Sophomore infielder Allison Cagley hit .264 with 16 RBI last year while Adrianna Zeman, a sophomore, hit .292 with 16 RBI. Newcomers are Faith Bachtold, Raelyn Payne, and Sydney Schubert.

Blackburn finished the 2018 year with 16 overall wins, their most since 2013.

Blackburn picked up 31 points for 7th place in the poll. Blackburn finished last year 16-23 overall under head coach Kerry Crum and return four starters. The Beavers will need to replace standout hitters Danielle Burnell and Hannah Goett but can turn to All-Conference performer Baylee Hughes. Hughes, a junior, hit .408 with three home runs and 19 RBI last year while swiping 15 bases. Abby Frerichs, also a junior, hit .359 with five home runs and 26 RBI to earn Second Team All-Conference honors and will team with Hughes to form the foundation of the Beavers offense. Halle Fransen (.320 average) and Lexi Yockey (.292 average) will fill out the batting order. Hughes and Fransen also saw time in the circle and will continue to do so this year along with newcomer Holly Jones. Megan Moseley and Haley Shull are freshman that will push for playing time.

Head Coach Mike Hampton is in his 26th season as coach of the Tigers.

Iowa Wesleyan University come in 8th in the poll with 29 points. The Tigers are coached by Mike Hampton and were 7-27 overall and 5-13 in the SLIAC last season. They will be a nearly new team with just four returners and 13 new players on the roster, including nine freshman. Seniors McKenzie Copher, Ashley Machholz, and Emmy Rodriguez will provide the leadership for the young team while sophomore Alex Eyman is the only other returner on the team. Newcomers include transfers Morgan Christner and Kayla Ford as well as freshman McKenna Woolery.

Principia finished with five SLIAC wins last year, their most conference wins since starting the program in 2010.

Principia College picked up 15 points for 9th place in the poll. The Panthers, coached by Ken Leavoy, return eight players and six starters from a team that went 9-23 overall and 5-13 in the SLIAC. Although their depth may be an issue the Panthers bring back their top three hitters from a year ago. Shortstop Hannah Hathaway led the league with a .467 batting average, adding four home runs and 22 RBI. Catcher Lauren Daugherty hit .385 with three home runs and 21 RBI while Leah Schaefer hit .341 with 19 RBI. Schaefer also serves as the team's ace in the circle, amassing 145 innings while striking out 71. Newcomer Delaney Gatine is penciled in as the starting centerfielder.

Raven Talashoma led the team in slugging percentage (.465) and appeared in a team leading 16 games as a pitcher.

MacMurray College wraps up the poll, finishing with 12 points. The Highlanders were 7-28 overall and 2-16 in the SLIAC last season with head coach Samantha Valentine. They bring back seven players and five starters. Kiersten Hann is the team's top returning hitter after batting .333 while Kerrigan Horn is also back after hitting .296. Brooke Allen and Lauren Anderson are starters also coming back and will be counted on to provide at bats. Among the team's top newcomers are Lydia Hays, Autumn Hobrock, and Haley Icenogle.


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