Beaver Softball Ranked Sixth in League Preseason Poll
Wednesday, February 25, 2004
MINNEAPOLIS, Minn. -- The Bemidji State softball team, which finished last year 9-14 overall and sixth in the league standings, was picked to finish sixth in the 2004 Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference Preseason Softball Coaches Poll. The announcement came yesterday from the league offices. BSU, along with Minnesota State, Moorhead, tied for the sixth spot with 23 points.

Four players from last year’s club, including the top hitter and pitcher in Katie Hurst, are lost to graduation. Added to the 2004 line-up are four athletes, whom head coach Amanda Went feels have shown their stuff in preseason workouts.

“We lost four seniors and somehow we have to fill those positions,” said Went. “I think the girls are ready and have caught on to the fact that they have to fill those voids. Thus far, some of the underclassmen have stepped up and taken on a bigger role.

“I am not surprised with the polls this year. This (ranking) is where we finished last year.”

Winona State, winners of the NSIC Tournament a year ago, received six first-place votes and 61 points to take the top spot. 2003 Regular Season Champion, Minnesota Duluth is second with 56 points and one first-place nod. Concordia-St. Paul earned two first-place votes and 52 overall to be third.

Wayne State (Neb.) and SW Minnesota State are a close fourth and fifth with 41 and 39 points, respectively. Rounding out the bottom two places are Northern State (18) in eighth and Minnesota Crookston (10) in ninth.

Junior shortstop Lauren Wilson (St. Paul, Minn.) and senior pitcher/centerfielder Leah Bowen (Hermantown, Minn.) were selected as 2004 NSIC Players to Watch. Wilson is honored under the position players category while Bowen is recognized as a pitcher.

Wilson, who tied for the team lead with 76 plate appearances last year, brings a steady glove in the field and consistent eye at the dish. A two-year starter at shortstop, Wilson has started in all 55 games in her career. Last season, Wilson led the team with 58 defensive assists, tied for tops with four base on balls and tied for second with 10 runs scored. On defense, Wilson held a 88.9 fielding percentage.

Bowen returns as the club’s top pitcher as she will try to fill the void of departing senior Katie Hurst. Holding down a 4-12 career record, Bowen has recorded 16 complete games in her pitching career. At the plate, Bowen has 21 career runs-batted-in to her credit and was second on the team in 2003 with 10 RBI’s. Also, Bowen picked up her second career home run against Concordia-St. Paul, Apr. 12, 2003.

BSU, which will make just two home appearances Apr. 12 and 20, opens up the 2004 campaign at the Northwest Missouri State Tournament in Maryville, Mo. The NSIC Tournament will take place in Moorhead, Minn., Apr. 30-May 1.