Top Spot In Preseason Softball Poll Goes To Moravian
MADISON, N.J. – Moravian College has claimed the first three Landmark Softball Championships and is the favorite to make it four titles in as many years according to the Landmark Preseason Softball Poll. The seven head softball coaches and sports information directors at each institution that sponsor the sport were polled for the preseason ballot.
Moravian and Susquehanna University have faced off in each of the past two Landmark Championships and were the clear top choices in the poll, with Moravian placing first with 52 points in the voting and Susquehanna placing second with 48 points. The voting tightened at the next three spots with The Catholic University of America placing third with 36 points followed by two teams tied for the fourth spot with 32.
The Greyhounds advanced to the Division III College World Series last year, finishing 34-15 overall and entered the year ranked seventh in the National Fastpitch Softball Coaches Association Division III preseason poll. Two-time Landmark Pitcher of the Year Jenna Carmon highlights a group of 13 returning letterwinners.
There are also plenty of returning starters for Susquehanna which is coming off arguably the best season in program history as the team went 34-13 and earned an NCAA Tournament appearance where it won a pair of games. All-Conference hurler Cara Swerdlow is back to anchor the team's pitching staff and infielder Brennan Balfour is one of three All-Conference players returning to the team's everyday lineup.
Catholic's 2010 season featured a 26-15 record overall and a 6-6 conference mark which had them narrowly miss the Landmark postseason. Three of the Cardinals' four All-Conference selections are back this year, led by shortstop Megan Rizzi who ranked among the top hitters in the conference.
Juniata College is part of the tie for fourth place, with 32 points in the voting. The Eagles lost several key contributors from the team that went 20-18 overall and 6-6 in conference last year. All-Conference infielder Caley McCool represents one of the eight returning letterwinners from last year's squad.
The University of Scranton also finished with 32 points in the poll, leaving them in a tie for fourth with Juniata. The Royals saw a pair of All-Conference players depart but have offensive mainstay Annie Zeleniak returning after she earned All-Region honors last year. Scranton finished third in the conference with a 6-6 conference mark, and has the majority of its lineup back, including two primary pitchers.
Twenty points earned Drew University the sixth position in the voting, coming off a 12-25 season overall and a year when the Rangers went 3-9 in conference play. There is plenty of talent returning with all three of their All-Conference players back, led by pitcher Adriana Durso and infielder Kati Eggert. Three seniors were lost to graduation but the remainder of the starting lineup is back for the Rangers.
The United States Merchant Marine Academy claims the seventh spot with 11 points in the balloting. The Mariners went 11-18 overall last season, and finished 2-10 in conference play. Versatile All-Conference performer Kaitlyn Robbins is back and will be one of nine returnees for the Mariners this year.
One Landmark team has already begun its season with the rest opening play in the coming week. The conference season will open on March 26 when Juniata hosts Catholic, Drew welcomes Moravian and USMMA travels to Susquehanna.