FREDERICKSBURG, Va. -- Two-time defending champion Christopher Newport was selected as the early favorite in the 2019 Capital Athletic Conference Softball Preseason Poll. In a vote among the conference head coaches, the Captains received five first-place votes and totaled 35 points to land atop the poll. CNU enters the new season at the No. 6-ranked team in the NFCA Preseason Poll.
Salisbury (32 points) received two first-place votes to finish second in preseason balloting ahead of York (25 points) who is slotted third.
Mary Washington (19 points) edged Frostburg State (18 points) by the slimmest of margins for the No. 4 position in the preseason rankings, with Penn State Harrisburg (11 points) and Southern Virginia (7 points) rounding out the poll.
The CAC Tournament will feature a six-team postseason event spread across two weekends. The opening weekend (Apr. 26-27) will feature a pair of three-team, double-elimination pods hosted by the top two seeds. The winners of those pods will square off the following weekend (May 3-4) at the highest remaining seeds' field.
The 2019 season begins this weekend as Christopher Newport opens the year against Emory & Henry on Feb. 9, while Southern Virginia gets underway on Feb. 15 at Salem. The rest of the league will begin competition on February 16, while CAC competition is slated to open on March 30.
2019 CAC Softball Preseason Poll
Points (First-Place Votes)
|1.||Christopher Newport||35 (5)|
|6.||Penn State Harrisburg||11|
Below is a brief preview of each team entering the 2019 campaign:
1) CHRISTOPHER NEWPORT returns first team All-American and National Player of the Year finalist Patty Maye Ohanian in her second season to lead the way in 2019. The Captains were ranked No. 15 in the final NFCA poll of 2018 after a 37-10 record and an NCAA Regional Finals appearance. Ohanian was the first freshman in school history, for any sport, to earn first team All-America honors last year after hitting .484 with a school record 68 RBI, 75 hits, .852 slugging percentage, and 132 total bases. She will lead an offense that also returns junior second baseman Grace Wild (.338, 33 RBI, 50 R) and junior first baseman Calah Savage (.380, 5 HR, 23 RBI). In the pitching circle, juniors Aubrey Bates (15-4, 2.01 ERA) and Laura Kate Moss (12-4, 2.96 ERA) will be joined by Ohanian to lead the way.
under NFCA Hall of Fame Head Coach Margie Knight, returns six players who appeared in at least 41 of the team's 45 games from its NCAA tournament appearance squad in 2018. Seniors Shannon Powell, Cat Ramagnano, and Amelia Trotter lead the Sea Gulls into the new season. Powell was named to the All-CAC second team last year, one of four players on this season's roster to earn All-CAC honors while junior Dakotah Fraley was named an NFCA All-Region performer.
Returning starters: 6
Returning All-CAC selections: 4
Sami Mumford, So., OF (1st team)
Emily Allen, Jr., C (2nd team)
Dakotah Fraley, Jr., SS (2nd team)
Shannon Powell, Sr., P (2nd team)
Returning All-Region: Dakotah Fraley - Second Team
3) The YORK COLLEGE softball team enters the 2019 season as one of, if not the youngest team in the conference with ten freshmen, making up two-thirds of the roster. The Spartans lost a productive senior core from last season as well as second-team All-CAC outfielder Ashley Meekins. The Spartans return one of the more dominant arms in the conference with junior pitcher Ginger Lewis, who was named first-team All-CAC after posting a 2.49 ERA in a league-leading 157.1 innings. Joanna Marmo, the other returning all-conference player will anchor a young lineup for York.
Returning Starting Position Players: 3
Returning Starting Pitchers: 1
Notable Statistics: Ginger Lewis 1st in CAC in Innings Pitched (157.1), 1st in strikeouts and 11th in NCAA (178), 2nd in wins (14), 3rd in ERA (2.49)
Returning All-CAC Players: 2
Ginger Lewis 1st-Team
Joanna Marmo 2nd-Team
4) MARY WASHINGTON, under the guidance of 32nd-year head coach Dee Conway, will look to make a deeper run in the CAC tournament this year. Megan Hibbs (62.2 IP) and Jena Calvitti (45.1 IP) will toe the rubber for the Eagles. The offense will be highlighted by Hannah Bruns (.358 BA), Rachel Porchie (6 Doubles), and All-CAC performer Danielle Newman (.391 BA). UMW welcomes 10 newcomers to the diamond and hope they can contribute right away.
Number of returning position players: 5
5) The FROSTBURG STATE Bobcats return a wealth of talent for the spring of 2019 for first year head coach Bill Vasko. Frostburg, entering its final season in the CAC, returns three players who hit over .300 last spring, along with starting pitchers Katelyn Mehrling (five wins) and Ally Wieman (5 wins) who combined for 60 strikeouts. Taylor McCarty, Aliyah Ramey and Mehrling all return after hitting over .300 in their first years with FSU and the trio combined for 105 hits and 68 RBI.
6) After earning the program's first Capital Athletic Conference (CAC) postseason berth last spring, PENN STATE HARRISBURG will look to build upon that milestone behind the team's top hurler in Allison Hartman. The senior led the Lions' pitching staff with an ERA of 2.81, while also recording 74 strikeouts. Offensively, the Blue & White return seven starters, including junior outfielder Katie Humphrey who ranked second on the team in RBIs.
Returning Starters: 6 of 9 position players, starting pitcher
Notable Statistics: Allison Hartman ranked fifth in the CAC in ERA (2.81)
7) SOUTHERN VIRGINIA starts the 2019 season after posting their best record since joining Division III. The Knights went 14-23 and won their first conference matchup this past season. Southern Virginia returns seven starters with some new additions to make the Knights prime for another season of improvement and growth.