The Northwest Missouri State softball team was tabbed to finish eighth in the MIAA Softball Preseason Coaches Poll released by the league office Wednesday.
Defending MIAA Champion Emporia State earned 12 first place votes and was picked to repeat followed by Central Oklahoma, who earned three first place votes. Last year UCO knocked off Emporia State in the South Central Regional and fell one game shy of the national championship game.
They finished just one point ahead of 2012 MIAA runner-up Missouri Western who is No. 3 with 176 points.
Fort Hays State earns the No. 4 spot with 153 points, just 10 points ahead of No. 5 Pittsburg State.
Washburn is in the No. 7 spot with 103 points while No. 8 Northwest registered 92 points. League newcomer Northeastern State has 83 points in the No. 9 spot while Nebraska-Kearney has 81 in the No. 10 spot.
Missouri Southern comes in at No. 11 with 77 points ahead of No. 12 Truman. Lindenwood received 52 points and the No. 13 spot in the poll. Just two points separate No. 14 Lincoln (25) and No. 15 Southwest Baptist (23).
Northwest opens the 2013 season Feb. 9 with a double-header at St. Mary's (Kan.) before traveling to the 7-State Classic hosted by Arkansas-Monticello. The Bearcats return four All-MIAA players from 2012 including Jenna Creger and Kayli Schurman.
Creger became the all-time strikeout leader at Northwest last season while Schurman tied the school's single-season home run record with 15.
MIAA Preseason Softball Poll
(first place votes in parenthesis)
1. Emporia State (12) 194 pts.
2. Central Oklahoma (3)– 177 pts.
3. Missouri Western— 176 pts.
4. Fort Hays State— 153 pts.
5. Pittsburg State— 143 pts.
6. Central Missouri— 128 pts.
7. Washburn– 103 pts.
8. Northwest Missouri– 92 pts.
9. Northeastern State – 83 pts.
10. Nebraska-Kearney – 81 pts.
11. Missouri Southern— 77 pts.
12. Truman State— 68 pts.
13. Lindenwood— 52 pts.
14. Lincoln—25 pts.
15. Southwest Baptist—23 pts.