2020 SLIAC Softball Poll

After winning the program's first ever SLIAC Tournament title, Eureka College is the favorite in the 2020 St. Louis Intercollegiate Athletic Conference Coaches Preseason Poll. They are followed by an expected tight race between the next four teams and what will be a battle for the four field conference tournament.

#1 Eureka College

With eight returning starters Eureka is the heavy favorite this year in the SLIAC, picking up 71 total points and six first-place votes. The Red Devils bring back all of their key pieces from last year and boast one of the more potent offenses in the nation. They led the SLIAC in runs scored, home runs, hits, and batting average and are led by a pair of All-Americans in Sydney Shubert and Morgan Ledbetter. Shubert, the reigning SLIAC Player of the Year, hit a Division III leading .587 last year while scoring 44 runs and stealing 13 bases. Ledbetter was the power in the lineup, popping a nation leading 17 home runs while hitting .526 with 58 runs batted in. They also return last year's SLIAC Newcomer of the Year in Raelyn Payne, who hit .457 with 7 home runs and 32 RBI. Adrianna Zeman gives Eureka even more depth and looks to follow up a strong 2019 season in which she finished with a .382 batting average. Not to be overlooked is the return of Erin Smith in the circle. Smith was 17-5 last year with a 2.03 earned-run average. Head Coach Debi Neff added to the team depth by bringing in a trio of transfers in Jordan Heinz, Torre Koontz, and Bailey Tibbetts.

2019 Overall Record: 27-8

2019 SLIAC Record: 14-4

Head Coach: Debi Neff

T #2 Westminster College

After missing out on the playoffs last year Westminster College was picked 2nd in the poll this spring with 63 total points and one first-place vote. Head Coach Sara Stafford is counting on her experienced team to make noise this year after going 13-19 overall last season. They return 20 players and 8 starters including Honorable Mention All-American Mikala Guthrie. Guthrie hit .493 with 16 runs batted in during her freshman campaign. Fellow All-Conference performers Lauren Huskey (.380 average) and Taylor White (.337 average with 12 stolen bases) will help fill out the lineup card. The Blue Jays will feature one of the more deep pitching staffs in Madison Ingram, Katie Price, and Bailee Zemianek. Ingram earned All-Conference honors last year after going 6-6 with a 3.71 earned-run average while Price was the 2018 SLIAC Pitcher of the Year and Zemianek notched 3 wins as a freshman last season. Kasey Ginder, a catcher, is one of just four freshman to join the team.

2019 Overall Record: 13-19

2019 SLIAC Record: 13-5

Head Coach: Sara Stafford

T #2 Spalding University

Spalding University tied for 2nd in the poll with 63 points after going 28-15 overall last season. Head Coach Art Williams returns 18 players and 7 starters from a squad that advanced to the SLIAC Championship game in 2019. They will have to replace their starting shortstop (Lindsey Hubbard) and All-Conference catcher (Mac Henderson) but have the experience to fill in the voids. Leading the way is First Team All-Conference infielder Ally Klein. Klein hit .386 with 23 runs batted in and a SLIAC leading 21 stolen bases last year. Outfielders Addie Morris (.350 average and 14 stolen bases) and Jennifer Peffley (.296 average and 15 stolen bases) return as well and will continue to terrorize on the base paths. Olivia Carter returns to the circle for the Golden Eagles after throwing over 140 innings one year ago and going 14-8 with a 3.43 earned-run average. Jayda Garrison, Erica McMann, and Bailey Melton are among the freshmen that could have a role on the team.

2019 Overall Record: 28-15

2019 SLIAC Record: 13-5

Head Coach: Art Williams

#4 Iowa Wesleyan University

Iowa Wesleyan University rose from nowhere last spring, being picked 8th in the preseason poll only to finish tied for 2nd in the final standings. This year the Tigers won't catch anyone by surprise, receiving 58 total points and two first-place votes. The Tigers return six starters from last year's team including the SLIAC Pitcher of the Year, Morgan Christner. Christner was 17-5 in the circle with 199 strikeouts in 142.1 innings while holding a 2.36 earned-run average and earning All-Region honors. She is also a threat at the plate where she hit .415 with 37 runs batted in. Emma McDanel won 9 games as a freshman last season and will be there once again to take the ball for the Tigers when needed. Kayla Ford recorded a .413 batting average last season while crossing the plate 35 times and earning All-Conference honors. Also back is Alex Eyman (.362 average with 16 doubles) and catcher Taylor Johnson. Head Coach Mike Hampton brings in 12 new players, including three transfers, that will fill out the team depth. Among the newcomers that could have an impact are sophomore Breanna Mettler and junior Jurnee Adams.

2019 Overall Record: 26-11

2019 SLIAC Record: 13-5

Head Coach: Mike Hampton

#5 Greenville University

Greenville University was picked 5th in the poll with 57 total points and received the final first-place nod. The Panthers went 21-14 overall last season, finishing 13-5 in the SLIAC and tying for second place in the standings. Head Coach Buddy Foster will be looking to get the Panthers back into the postseason for a seventh straight season, the longest active streak in SLIAC softball.

2019 Overall Record: 21-14

2019 SLIAC Record: 13-5

Head Coach: Buddy Foster

#6 - Fontbonne University

Coming in 6th place was Fontbonne University with 46 total points. The Griffins were 10-25 overall last season and return five starters. Head Coach Casey Cromwell will have a young team with just one senior and six freshman on the roster. The sophomore trio of Lexi Becker, Gracie Morris, and Abby Richmond will be leaned on this season. Becker hit .316 with 16 RBI last season while Morris and Richmond gained plenty experience playing in 53 combined games as freshmen last year.

2019 Overall Record: 10-25

2019 SLIAC Record: 8-10

Head Coach: Casey Cromwell

#7 Webster University

Webster University placed 7th in the poll with 41 total points. The Gorloks were 10-24 overall in head coach Katie Griffith's first season and bring back eight starters. Griffith is looking for a big jump in the offense and will look to Abby Burroughs to be a key fixture. Burroughs, a senior outfielder, hit .259 with 6 home runs and 23 RBI last season and is a three-time All-Conference performer. Catcher Darian Morlan hit .294 last year and give the team experience behind the plate. Sophomores Sheyla Iniguez (.304 average) and Taylor Jackson (.363 average) should improve on their solid first-year seasons. Sophomore Arianna Arias led the team in innings last year with 74 while picking up three wins. Newcomers include a trio of transfers in Kirbie Mendenhall, Morgan Parrish, and Emma Steltzer.

2019 Overall Record: 10-24

2019 SLIAC Record: 7-11

Head Coach: Katie Griffith

#8 Blackburn College

Finishing in 8th with 25 total points was Blackburn College. The Beavers are coached by Kerry Crum and were 12-20 one year ago. He returns just three starters and brings in eight freshman that will compete right away. Baylee Hughes will be the anchor for the Beavers after putting up a .333 average with 4 home runs and 16 RBI last season at the plate and going 3-2 with a 3.83 earned-run average in the circle to earn Third Team All-Conference honors. Juniors Kennedy Henson, Whitney Runyon, and Brooke Daniels are the other three returners for Coach Crum. Among his freshman that will get plenty of playing time will be Jackie Rose, Josie Manar, and Maddie Wichmann.

2019 Overall Record: 12-20

2019 SLIAC Record: 6-12

Head Coach: Kerry Crum

#9 MacMurray Colllege

MacMurray College received 14 total points, placing 9th in the poll. The Highlanders finished 3-29 last season and return seven starters. First-year head coach Alexa McClaughry will rely on Meka Elmore to be the focal point of the offense. Elmore, a junior infielder, hit .384 with 10 RBI last season while being named Second Team All-Conference. Also back are Brooke Allen (.369 average) and Lydia Hays (77 innings pitched). Freshmen Madelyn Belville, MyKenzie Kloess, and Zoe Kesler could push for playing time.

2019 Overall Record: 3-27

2019 SLIAC Record: 2-16

Head Coach: Alexa McClaughry

#10 Principia College

Principia College tallied 12 total points and come in 10th place on the poll. The Panthers finished 5-27 overall last season and head coach Ken Leavoy returns six starters. The Panthers have a strong trio to build around in Lauren Daugherty, Hannah Hathaway, and Delaney Gatine but will need others to step up behind them. Daugherty, a senior, was named First Team All-Conference after hitting .453 with 2 home runs and 31 runs batted in. Hathaway, a third baseman, also picked up First Team honors after a season with a .385 average and 21 RBI while Gatine hit .379 and was named Third Team All-Conference. Freshmen Gracie Paul and Alyssa Savoye will play key role immediately.

2019 Overall Record: 5-27

2019 SLIAC Record: 1-17

Head Coach: Ken Leavoy

2020 SLIAC Softball Preseason Watch List

Defending SLIAC Champion Eureka College leads the way with three players on the preseason watch list. The trio of Sydney Shubert, Morgan Ledbetter, and Erin Smith will be looking to follow up their historic year for the Red Devils. Morgan Christner shined in the circle for Iowa Wesleyan, leading the Tigers to the postseason and earning SLIAC Pitcher of the Year honors. Principia boasts a pair of players that are among the league's best in Hannah Hathaway and Lauren Daugherty while Spalding speedster Ally Klein puts the pressure on the defense any time she reaches base. Greenville's Kayla Zimmerman hit .438 with 20 stolen bases and is a threat to win the stolen base title.


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