Princeton, WV – With seven first-place votes, defending WVIAC champion West Virginia Wesleyan has been selected to win the league title, as voted on by the conference coaches.
The Bobcats, with 184 total points, edged out Shepherd, which racked up 180 points and two first-place nods. Despite the graduation from Kashilia Young, the region Player of the Year, WVWC returns standouts Hillary Perez-Ashley (24-2) in the circle and Kaitlyn Carey (21-6), who saw time at various positions a season ago.
The Rams are coming off a superb 2011 campaign but lost standouts Nichole Pitcock and Amber Dudek due to graduation. SU returns Chelsie Oals (.280 BA) at third base and Sam McQuade (.984 fielding percentage) at first base, solidifying their defense. Jess Mason had a strong season a year ago and should help the Rams earn a spot in the postseason in 2012. Hurler Tricia Bettura returns from a medical redshirt. In 2010, she won 20 games and had 185 strikeouts.
WVIAC Tournament runner-up West Virginia State was selected to finish third with 176 points. The Yellow Jackets return senior slugger Brittany Hyatt, who batted .400 last year, and tournament standout Kelsey Lorraine in the circle. Lorraine went 18-4 for the team in 2011. WVSU tallied four first-place votes while Alderson-Broaddus garnered the other first-place nod.
Fairmont State (134 points) was chosen to finish fourth while the Battlers picked up 123 points to be selected to take fifth in the league. The Falcons have a core group returning from a solid 2011 squad. Pitcher Chelsea Cobb (11 wins, 2.45 ERA) and infielders Abbey Wilson (.315) and Brittany Tallhamer (.295 BA) should help FSU have another strong season. A-B returns talented players as in Adrienne Daniels (.344 BA), hurler Kat Powell (12-10) and India Stone (6-6), who all played key roles in 2011.
Glenville State, under the direction of first-year head coach Mandy Sansbury has been selected sixth with 114 points, edging out the University of Charleston, which amassed 112 total points. The Pioneers return Jessica Fedor in the circle (9 wins, 3.94 ERA), which racked up a team-high nine wins. Hard hitters Lacey Metheny (.321 BA) and Carly Caldon (.301) also return.
The Golden Eagles are also under new direction as Raymond Loeser heads the squad. UC lost hurler Stefanie Rossman due to graduation but returns a slew of talent. Senior Logan Tretick, the top hitter from 2011 with a .318 average, is back. Kimberley Giannini (.997 fielding percentage) and Janeen Vazquez (.983 fielding percentage), the two top fielders among everyday players, should bolster the line-up in 2012.
Davis & Elkins was tabbed eighth in the preseason poll with 106 points while Seton Hill was selected ninth with 100 total points. The Senators return their top two hitters from 2011 in Carissa Dunn (.344 BA) and Bridget Ours (.328 BA). D&E also has back sophomore hurler Alanna Jones, who posted 15 wins during her rookie campaign.
The Griffins are paced by the bat of junior Brandi Piccolino (.303 BA) and are under the guidance of Samantha Hurst. Infielder Liz Piekut was second on the team in steals in 2011 and should help the young, but talented team.
Wheeling Jesuit picked up 73 points for 10th while Concord is 11th with 64 total points. West Liberty also earned 50 points for 12th.
The Cardinals are under first-year head coach James Walker. WJU returns three of its top five hitters, including all-region performer Jarah Ice (.326) and sophomore standout Skylar Berger (.303). Junior Ashley Nichols returns after tossing 14 complete games a season ago.
Alisa Tasler was recently chosen to be at the helm of the CU team. The Mountain Lions return pitcher Tamara Smith, who notched a team-best 10 wins in 2011. Stephanie Harper lit up opposing teams for a .346 average a year ago while Becca Gleason also hit over .300.
The Hilltoppers also have a new head coach in 2012. Jim Bacca takes over a team that has a lot of talent returning from a young squad a season ago. Kelsey Martin (.296) and Felicia Hulslander (.290), the top two returning hitters from 2011, will once again be in the line-up. Hulslander also led the squad in steals with 16. Pitcher Sara Emerich picked up nearly half of the team’s wins in 2011.
Ohio Valley (38 points) and Bluefield State (16 points) round out the WVIAC. The Fighting Scots return Brittany Shephley, who hit .398 a season ago. Sarah Simmons also hit over .300 for the squad. Raegan Turner notched a 2.79 ERA for OVU in 2011. Kari Chaffin is the top hitter returning for the Lady Blues. She also posted a win in the circle a season ago.
2012 Softball Preseason Poll
1. WV Wesleyan (7) 184
2. Shepherd (2) 180
3. WV State (4) 176
4. Fairmont State 134
5. Alderson-Broaddus (1) 123
6. Glenville State 114
7. Charleston 112
8. Davis & Elkins 106
9. Seton Hill 100
10. Wheeling Jesuit 73
11. Concord 64
12. West Liberty 50
13. Ohio Valley 38
14. Bluefield State 16