The Ashland University softball team has been picked to finish first in the GLIAC South Division in the 2011 GLIAC Coaches' Preseason Poll.
The Eagles open conference play at Brookside Park with three doubleheaders this week. The first of those twinbills will be Friday (Mar. 25, 3:30 p.m.) against Hillsdale, which is picked fifth in the GLIAC North Division.
The Eagles were 8-6 heading into Tuesday's non-conference doubleheader at Northern Kentucky. Ashland, which has advanced to the NCAA playoffs each of the last two seasons, received 24 points in the preseason poll. That was enough to nip Wayne State, which was picked second. The Warriors received 22 points. A year ago, Wayne State and Ashland met in the NCAA Midwest Super Regional championship series. WSU won that series, 2-0.
Saginaw Valley State is the favorite among the coaches to win the North Division. SVSU garnered 29 points. Ferris State (20) is picked second and Northwood (16 points) is selected to finish third. Ferris State will play in Ashland this Sunday (Mar. 27, noon). Grand Valley State, picked fourth in the North, will visit the Eagles this Saturday (Mar. 26, noon).
This year's GLIAC field includes two newcomers – Lake Erie and Ohio Dominican. AU played both team last season. The Eagles split a doubleheader against ODU and swept two games from Lake Erie.
Ashland was 36-13 last season, 20-6 in GLIAC action.
This year's GLIAC Tournament will be played May 6-8 at Emerson Park in Midland, Mich.
2011 GLIAC Softball Coaches' Preseason Poll
Rank Team Points
1 Ashland (4) 24
2 Wayne State (2) 22
3 Tiffin 17
4 Findlay 12
5 Ohio Dominican 10
6 Lake Erie 5
Rank Team Points
1 Saginaw Valley State (6) 29
2 Ferris State (1) 20
3 Northwood 16
4 Grand Valley State 13
5 Hillsdale 9
6 Lake Superior State 3
First place votes in parentheses