COURTESY: TRINE ATHLETICS
ROYAL OAK, Mich. - Despite being the only Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association softball team nationally ranked, the Trine University squad was picked as co-favorites to repeat as conference champions by the league's coaches, tying with Alma College with 12 points. This is the first time since the MIAA began conducting a preseason softball poll that there has been a tie for first. Trine won the regular season title last season but the Scots capture the conference tournament.
The Thunder, tied for 13th in the most recent National Fastpitch Coaches Association Division III Poll, received five first place votes, while Alma received just four first place votes. Coaches could not vote for their own team.
Trine swept last year's regular season series with Scots en-route to a 15-1 conference record while setting a school record with 40 wins. The Thunder also advanced to the NCAA Regional Tournament Championship game for the first time in school history.
Trine is poised for another deep post-season run as the squad returns seven starters from a year ago, including MIAA Most Valuable Player and Pitcher in senior Andi Gasco (Levering, Mich./Petoskey). The team will also feature two transfers from Division I Toledo and Division II Farmington State along with eight freshmen.
The Thunder will open their season on March 3 at the Rebel Spring games before traveling to Georgia for the invitation only NFCA Division III Leadoff Classic beginning March 8. Trine will begin the NFCA tournament by facing seventh ranked Illinois Wesleyan. Trine's home-opener will be on March 16 when they take on Hiram College.
Poll Results (first-place votes in parenthesis): 1. Trine (5) 12 pts. 1. Alma (4) 12. 3. Hope 24. 4. Adrian 29. 5. Saint Mary's 38. 6. Olivet 43. 7. Calvin 46. 8. Albion 57. 9. Kalamazoo 63.