NFCA Division II Preseason Top 25 Poll
Humboldt State received six of the eight possible first-place votes to begin the 2006 season in the top position in the NFCA Division II Preseason Top 25 Poll released Wednesday.
Frank Cheek’s squad has a national title in its aims with seven starters returning from last year’s squad that tied the school record with 60 victories. The Jacks return NFCA All-American Tracy Motzny and all-conference selection Lizzy Prescott in the circle, while Brandi Harrison returns to anchor the offense after hitting a team-best .372 last season.
Angelo State follows in second after earning NCAA South Central Regional finalist honors. Travis Scott’s squad, who won the national title in 2004, returns seven starters off the 2005 contingent, including top hitter Dionne Lopez, top RBI and home-run producer Christel Neal, and 21-game winner Brittney Cargill.
Three-time defending Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference champion Shippensburg follows in third. Despite losing three all-Americans from a year ago, Bob Brookens has all-American Kelly Tiesi and conference rookie of the year Danielle Shields back in the circle.
Alabama-Huntsville, who finished 52-16 last season and returns 15 players, comes in fourth, and 2005 NCAA Softball Championship finalist Concordia-St. Paul rounds out the top five.
Another team in Salem last season, Le Moyne, comes in sixth, while Southern Illinois, Edwardsville moves up to seventh after ending 2005 at No. 18. USC Upstate ranks eighth, while NCAA finalists San Francisco State and St. Mary’s (Texas) round out the top 10 in ninth and 10th, respectively.
Bloomsburg, who will be aiming for a second straight trip to Salem, comes in at No. 11, while Emporia State starts the 2006 season at No. 12. Florida Southern comes in at No. 13 with the return of 2004 all-America pitcher Megan Brown and 2005 all-America shortstop Jesse Shepherd.
Carson-Newman, who leads four teams who ranked outside the top 25 in 2005 to enter the preseason ratings, comes in 14th. The others are No. 18 Winona State, No. 20 Saint Leo and No. 22 Seattle.
Last year’s third-place team, Northern Kentucky, begins the season in the No. 15. The Norse returns all-America second baseman Ricki Rothbauer but have to replace 30-game winner and Division II Player of the Year Krystal Lewallen.
Caldwell moves up five spots to No. 17, while Northwood follows Winona State at No. 19. Lock Haven, who finished 34-10 a year ago, begins the year tied at No. 20 with Saint Leo.
Along with Seattle, Columbus State, LIU-C.W. Post and defending national champion Lynn round out the top 25.