NFCA Division II Preseason Poll
North Dakota State, which finished third at the 2003 Division II national championships, begins the 2004 campaign ranked No. 1 in the preseason NFCA Division II Top 25 poll, released by the National Fastpitch Coaches Association Wednesday.
Head coach Darren Mueller returns several players from last year’s squad, including a pair of Louisville Slugger/NFCA first team All-Americans in Jenny Bakke and Lindsey Graham. The Bison begin their season on March 5 at the Royal Inn Central Washington Invitational.
NDSU received six of the possible eight first-place votes.
St. Mary’s, who also finished third at nationals last season after winning the 2002 national title, begins the season ranked No. 2. The Rattlers received one first place vote. Defending Peach Belt Conference champion North Florida received the other top vote, and begins the season ranked third.
Defending Gulf South Conference and South Region champion West Florida is fourth, while Northeast Region powerhouse LeMoyne rounds out the top five.
Shippensburg, who returns the majority of its 2003 Mid-Atlantic Region championship squad is sixth. Wayne State, who won the Great Lakes Region last season is ranked No. 8
Defending national runner-up Georgia College and State University begins the season 17th, after losing All-American pitcher Jennifer Joiner.
Cal State Bakersfield is ranked No. 7 while Kennesaw State and Bloomsburg open the season ranked No. 9 and No. 10, respectively.
Grand Valley State, which lost in the finals of the Great Lakes Regional is 11th, followed by Barry, Angelo State, Armstrong Atlantic, Humboldt State and St. Cloud State.
Alabama-Huntsville is ranked No. 18 while Nebraska-Omaha and Southern Illinois-Edwardsville round out the top 20.
The last five ranked teams are California (PA), Western New Mexico, Tarleton State, American International and Cal State Dominguez Hills.
Longwood, Northern Colorado and defending national champion UC Davis are in transition to Division I, and therefore ineligible for consideration in the Division II poll.