Beaver softball picked 9th in preseason poll
With junior infielder Brooklyn Morrison and freshman pitcher Calley Olson named as the Players to Watch for Minot State, the Beavers were voted to finish in the middle of the NSIC standings by the league’s coaches as the NSIC Preseason Softball Coaches’ Poll was released today.
Under the guidance of first-year head coach Bailey Gaspar, the Beavers were selected to finish ninth in the preseason poll, receiving 90 points. Minot State compiled a 28-20 record last spring and finished 11th in the NSIC standings.
Defending regular-season and NSIC Tournament champion Augustana earned 10 first-place votes and was the favorite to repeat as NSIC Champions for the third straight year with 217 points, while Minnesota State, Mankato was picked second with three first-place votes and 208 points.
St. Cloud State earned the other three first-place votes from the NSIC coaches and was picked to finish third with 187 points, tied with Winona State which did not garner any first-place votes but was picked third with 187 points, as well.
Morrison, a junior third baseman, leads the way for the Minot State returners as she hit .288 with a team-best five home runs, 28 RBIs, and 11 stolen bases in 46 games last spring.
Morrison was named the position Player to Watch for the Beavers, while Olson, a freshman pitcher from Bloomer High School in Wisconsin, was named the Preseason Pitcher to Watch for Minot State. The right-hander pitcher joins the Beavers after a stellar high school career where she was 23-3 in the circle with a miniscule .058 ERA in 156 innings with 322 strikeouts.
While they lead the Beavers, Winona State All-American Abbie Hlas was named the NSIC Preseason Player of the Year and Minnesota Duluth left-hander pitcher Lauren Dixon was named the NSIC Preseason Pitcher of the Year. Dixon led the NSIC in ERA (1.91), innings pitched (164.2), strikeouts (212), and opponent batting average (.219) last season.
Rounding out the preseason poll, Minnesota Duluth was fifth with 181 points, Concordia, St. Paul was sixth with 157 points, Southwest Minnesota State was picked seventh with 128 points, Sioux Falls was eighth with 127 points, Minot State was ninth with 90 points, Upper Iowa and Wayne State tied for 10th with 87 points each, Bemidji State was 12th with 66 points, Northern State was 13th with 61 points, Minnesota Crookston was 14th with 47 points, and Mary and MSU Moorhead tied for 15th with 45 points each.
Minot State opens the 2023 season hosting its annual Bubble Invite on Saturday and Sunday, Feb. 4-5. The Beavers first game will be a non-conference contests against in-state rival Mary at 9 a.m. on Saturday, Feb. 4. The Beavers also play Carroll College at 3 p.m. on Feb. 4, then take on Dakota Wesleyan at 1 p.m. on Sunday, Feb. 5, and Valley City State at 3 p.m. on Feb. 5.
NSIC Preseason Softball Coaches’ Poll
First-place votes in parenthesis
RANK TEAM POINTS
1. Augustana (10) 217
2. Minnesota State (3) 208
3. St. Cloud State (3) 187
3. Winona State 187
5. Minnesota Duluth 181
6. Concordia, St. Paul 157
7. SW Minnesota State 128
8. Sioux Falls 127
9. Minot State 90
10. Upper Iowa 87
10. Wayne State 87
12. Bemidji State 66
13. Northern State 61
14. Minnesota Crookston 47
15. Mary 45
15. MSU Moorhead 45