Golden Eagles picked to finish 14th in NSIC preseason coaches' poll
The Minnesota Crookston softball team was picked 14th in the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference Preseason Coaches' Poll, released Thursday.
The Golden Eagles received 46 points in the poll, which was compiled by each NSIC coach ranking each team from top to bottom, with the top team receiving 15 points, second 14, third 13, and so on. Coaches did not rank their own teams.
In the COVID-19 shortened 2020 season, UMC went 6-10, which was its best record through 16 games in program history. Despite their losing record, the Golden Eagles actually outscored their opponents, 75-68.
"What excites me about this year's team is the leadership we've had emerge throughout the adversity that has hit everybody in 2020," said coach Travis Owen in a release. "It hasn't been easy on anyone, and I'm looking forward to seeing us stick together through the adversity that ultimately happens in any season too, once we get rolling with 2021.”
On offense, Minnesota Crookston returns seven of its top nine hitters, including senior catcher Cassie Querrey, who hit .375 with four home runs and 17 runs batted in and an on-base plus slugging percentage of 1.193. Redshirt junior utility player Jordan Peterson hit .289 with a .413 on-base percentage. Outfielders Gabriella Blomdahl (So.) and Hannah Macias (Jr.) hit .277 and .265, respectively, and combined for seven stolen bases.
Querrey was named the Golden Eagles' NSIC Player to Watch.
"Cassie is one of the hardest workers on the team, and that has shown in the weight room and on the field," Owen said. "She has a great arm from behind the plate and at third base, and offensively, she is a power threat who gives herself a good chance to hit the ball hard every time she steps in the box."
UMC returns two pitchers from last season, both of whom also play first base. Kamryn Frisk, a senior right-hander, posted a 3.69 earned-run average in 36 innings. Alina Avalos, a sophomore right-hander, had a 6.08 ERA and struck out 19 in 25.1 innings.
The Golden Eagles also bring in senior right-hander Katie Humhej, a transfer from Long Island-Post. Humhej helped lead LIU-Post to the Division II College World Series in 2019, going 26-7 with a 2.06 ERA. She was named UMC's Pitcher to Watch.
"Katie has become one of the team leaders through her example of hard work both on and off the field," Owen said. "She has excellent focus on continual improvement and likes the challenge of competing against high-level hitters. Her presence in the circle will keep us competitive against any team we play this season."
Augustana was picked to finish first in the poll, receiving 12 first-place votes. Winona State was picked second and received three first-place votes.
Winona State catcher Allison Nowak, who hit .510 and slugged .902 last season, was chosen as the NSIC Preseason Player of the Year. Ashley Mickschl of Augustana, who went 11-1 with a 1.45 ERA and 71 strikeouts in 2020, was named the Preseason Pitcher of the Year.
Minnesota Crookston's season begins on Feb. 10 at the West St. Paul Dome Invitational, where it will take on Bemidji State and Jamestown. The Golden Eagles are scheduled to play 14 games before the 30-game NSIC schedule, comprised exclusively of double-headers, begins on March 30 at Bemidji State.
The top 10 teams in the regular-season standings will be invited to the NSIC Softball Tournament, a double-elimination tournament which will be held May 6-8 at the RYFSA Complex in Rochester, Minn.
NSIC PRESEASON SOFTBALL COACHES' POLL
- 1. Augustana (12 first-place votes) - 222 points
- 2. Winona State (3 first-place votes) - 210 points
- 3. Minnesota State - 194 points
- 4. St. Cloud State - 180 points
- 5. Minnesota Duluth - 161 points
- 6. Concordia-St. Paul - 150 points
- 7. Northern State - 146 points
- 8. Minot State - 122 points
- 9. Sioux Falls - 120 points
- 10. Southwest Minnesota State - 94 points
- 11. University of Mary - 85 points
- 12. Bemidji State - 65 points
- 13. Upper Iowa - 61 points
- 14. Minnesota Crookston - 46 points
- 15. Wayne State - 36 points
- 16. Minnesota State Moorhead - 28 points
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