AUM softball unanimous pick to repeat
The Auburn Montgomery softball team was tabbed the unanimous No. 1 team in the nation Tuesday, when the NAIA announced its 2015 Preseason Coaches’ Top 25 poll.
The Warhawks finished the 2014 season with a 44-7 mark, earning the first national championship in the program’s sixth season of existence. AUM, which has been ranked in the top 10 for 23 consecutive polls, defeated conference rival William Carey to earn the national title.
“Our girls have earned this No. 1 ranking and we are honored to have received it,” first-year head coach Eric Newell said. “It is very humbling to be selected as the nation’s top team, especially unanimously. However, with that comes a responsibility of being ready to play every single game. We know everyone has us circled on their schedule, so we will need to work hard every day and take care of what we can, if we want to keep it. We want to continue to improve, and if we are able to do that the rest will take care of itself.”
Newell and the Warhawks returned 18 letterwinners from last season’s squad, including starters at every position. AUM also welcomed back redshirt senior Laci Driggers, who was lost for the season just two games into the 2014 campaign.
In addition, seven National Fastpitch Coaches Association All-East Region selections are back, highlighted by first-team pitchers Cassie Daniels and Taylor Powell, catcher Lauren Shaw, third baseman Katie Spain and designated player Kayla Hale. Outfielders Therese Byrne and Amie Kelly, who garnered second-team honors, also return. Daniels, Shaw and Powell were each named NAIA All-Americans following the season.
AUM locked up the top spot by collecting 498 total points and all 18 first-place votes. The Lady Crusaders were second with 481 points, followed by Reinhardt with 466 points. Lindsey Wilson checked in a No. 4 with 447 points, while Oklahoma City climbed three spots and trailed the Blue Raiders by 13 points.
Fourteen of 21 conferences, independents and unaffiliated groups are represented this poll. The Southern States Athletic Conference places the most teams among the Top 25 with four: AUM, William Carey, No. 11 Belhaven and No. 20 Brenau. League member Mobile is among the others receiving votes.
AUM will begin its title defense on Feb. 20, when it hosts the AUM/Faulkner Invitational.
2015 NAIA Softball Coaches’ Preseason Top 25 Poll
Others Receiving Votes: Bellevue (Neb.) 81; Georgetown (Ky.) 69; Mobile (Ala.) 60; William Penn (Iowa) 49; Our Lady of the Lake (Texas) 36; Bryan (Tenn.) 25; Columbia (Mo.) 22; Georgia Gwinnett 21; Southeastern (Fla.) 15; Dickinson State (N.D.) 13; Central Baptist (Ark.) 12; Ottawa (Kan.) 9; Campbellsville (Ky.) 9; Morningside (Iowa) 6; Grand View (Iowa) 6; Vanguard (Calif.) 5; Corban (Ore.) 3; MidAmerica Nazarene (Kan.) 3.