Grand Valley State dominates top spot in 2019 GLIAC Softball Preseason Coaches' Poll
Grand Valley State claimed eight of nine first-place votes and 64 points to secure the top spot in the 2019 Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference Softball Coaches' Pre-Season Poll.
The defending regular-season and tournament champion Lakers finished 44-9 overall and 24-2 in the GLIAC last season. They head into the 2019 season ranked 16th in the National Fastpitch Coaches Association Pre-Season Top 25 Poll. Head coach Dana Callihan has 13 returning letterwinners – a group that includes four all-GLIAC honorees, two all-region performers, and one all-America standout.
The Lakers return two of their three pitchers from last season, including NFCA First Team All-American Allison Lipovsky. The back-to-back GLIAC Pitcher of the Year turned in a memorable junior campaign of a 22-5 record, 0.81 earned run average and 15 total shutouts.
Davenport claimed the other first-place vote and finished second in the poll with 56 points. DU returns All-GLIAC First Team pitcher Mallory Teunissen and first team designated player Alexa Flores. Both players earned NFCA all-region honors last season, along with GVSU's Lipovsky and Kaylie Rhynard (utility), and Ashland's Paige Summers (third base). Davenport only had one player graduate last season and return nearly all their starters. Out of the 10 players who recorded 80 or more at-bats during the 2018 season, Davenport returns nine of those to the 2019 roster.
Saginaw Valley State, which was third with 46 points, will rely on much youth in 2019. The Cardinals look to replace seven starters and much firepower from last year’s squad. Junior Mikayla Alexandrou returns to anchor the pitching staff after tossing 116.2 innings last year, going 9-10 with a team-high 72 strikeouts and a 4.02 ERA.
Fourth-place Ashland, which totaled 42 points, hit .293 and averaged 4.4 runs per game last year. With nine seniors on the roster, Ashland’s lineup will be heavy on experience. Three Eagles pitchers, including senior Hannah Stroe and sophomore Laney Jones, are expected to challenge for the No. 1 starting spot.
Rounding out the field was Purdue Northwest with 34 points, Northwood with 25, Wayne State 22, GLIAC newcomer Parkside 19 and Ferris State 16.
Scroll downward to reach each team's preview.