Minnesota State, the 2012 NSIC regular-season and tournament champions, were picked to finish first in the league for the first time

The U of M, Crookston softball team was picked to finish 16th in the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference (NSIC) Coaches’ Poll released Thursday afternoon from the conference office. The Golden Eagles are in their first year under head coach Ed Deugan. They finished in a tie for 15th place with Bemidji State University last season after going 9-40 (3-23 NSIC).

Minnesota State University, Mankato, the 2012 NSIC regular-season and tournament champions, were picked to finish first in the league for the first time since joining the league during the 2008-09 academic year. The Mavericks garnered nine first-place votes and 213 overall points in the poll. Augustana College was picked to finish second with 212 points and received four first-place votes. Winona State University was picked third with 192 points while University of Minnesota Duluth was picked fourth and Concordia University-St. Paul was picked fifth. UMD picked up two first-place votes while Concordia received one first-place vote.

Paige Schaust (Jr., OF/P, Delano, Minn.) and Stacey Marcum (Sr., RHP, Merrill, Wis.) were picked as the Golden Eagles’ Players to Watch by the NSIC. Schaust led the team with a .348 batting average while appearing in 40 games last season. She scored 11 runs, hit three doubles, one home run and had 16 RBI on the season. Schaust had a .416 slugging percentage and a .414 on-base percentage. Marcum had a 5-19 record with a 7.19 earned runs average in 122.2 innings pitched. Marcum led the team with 80 strikeouts.

Lindsay Erickson, a catcher/infielder for the Mavericks was picked as the NSIC Preseason Player of the Year after earning All-America Second Team honors from the NFCA and Daktronics last season. Megan Mullen, a right-handed pitcher for the University of Minnesota Duluth was chosen as the NSIC Preseason Pitcher of the Year. Mullen was an All-NSIC Second Team pick last season. She had a 1.92 ERA in NSIC games last season.

The Golden Eagles open up the season with a spring break trip with games in Ohio, Kentucky, North Carolina and Georgia. The first game on the trip will pit UMC against Cedarville University in Cedarville, Ohio March 15 in a doubleheader. The trip will wrap up with games versus Point University in West Point, Ga. March 22. The Golden Eagles return eight position players who started over eight games and Marcum and Schaust in the circle, who each appeared in over 85 innings a season ago.

NSIC Preseason Softball Coaches’ Poll
1. Minnesota State (9) - 213
2. Augustana (4) - 212
3. Winona State - 192
4. Minnesota Duluth (2) - 190
5. Concordia-St. Paul (1) - 174
6. Wayne State - 141
7. University of Mary - 123
8. Northern State - 119
9. St. Cloud State - 110
10. Southwest Minnesota State - 102
11. Upper Iowa - 99
12. Minot State - 73
13. Sioux Falls - 60
14. MSU Moorhead - 51
15. Bemidji State - 40
16. Minnesota, Crookston - 21
First place votes in ( )