The Ashland University softball team has been picked to finish second in the GLIAC South Division in the GLIAC Coaches' Preseason Poll.
Ashland received two first place votes and 22 points in the preseason poll. Tiffin is the choice to win the GLIAC South Division – barely. The Dragons picked up four first place votes and received 23 first place votes.
In the GLIAC North Division, Grand Valley State is a narrow choice to claim the division crown over Saginaw Valley State. GVSU received four first place votes and a total of 24 points. SVSU picked up two first place votes and 22 points.
The Eagles were 33-19 last season, 21-7 in the conference. AU has advanced to the NCAA Division II playoffs for three consecutive years. In 2012 Ashland returns its entire starting infield, the starting catcher and the ace of the pitching staff – senior Emlyn Knerem (Brunswick, Ohio).
Tiffin was 39-14 a year ago and won the regular season and GLIAC Tournament titles. The Dragons bring back eight starters from last season.
Knerem was 26-9 with a 1.70 ERA last season. Senior third baseman Alyssa Kelley (Mentor, Ohio) hit .377 last season with three homers and 33 RBI. Senior shortstop Bri Woody (Cleveland, Ohio/Magnificat) is coming off the best year of her career, hitting .340 with four homers and 33 RBI. Junior catcher Tawna Garver (Mansfield, Ohio/Hillsdale) had three homers and drove in 25 runs last year.
The Eagles open the season on Feb. 25 at Bellarmine.
The GLIAC Coaches Preseason Poll appears below.
2012 Softball Coaches' Preseason Poll
Rank Team Points
1 Grand Valley State (4) 24
2 Saginaw Valley State (2) 22
3 Ferris State 16
4 Northwood 14
5 Hillsdale 9
6 Lake Superior State 5
Rank Team Points
1 Tiffin (4) 23
2 Ashland (2) 22
3 Wayne State 18
4 Findlay 11
Ohio Dominican 11
6 Lake Erie 5
(First place votes in parentheses)