Softball season approaches, Beavers picked 13th in NSIC Preseason Coaches’ Poll
Thursday, January 29, 2009

ST. PAUL, Minn. – The Bemidji State University softball team has been picked to finish 13th in the 2009 Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference Coaches’ Poll, announced today by the league office. For the fourth-straight season, BSU will be starting with a new head coach as Jeremy Popp takes over the helm for the 2009 squad.

The league coaches chose BSU 13th with 43 points, nine less than Northern State University and 27 more than the University of Minnesota, Crookston. Bemidji State finished 2008 in eighth place in the NSIC for the second-straight year with a record of 4-14, while finishing 6-23 overall.

Southwest Minnesota State University won the regular season championship a year ago, and Winona State University took home the NSIC Tournament crown. The Warriors were selected to finish first with eight first-place votes. Minnesota State University and the Mustangs each received three first-place votes, but the Mavericks narrowly edged SMSU for second place, 165-164.

Concordia-St. Paul won the 2006 NSIC Tournament, and was selected fourth with 135 points. Wayne State College (128), the University of Minnesota Duluth (127), Augustana College (107), St. Cloud State University (106), the University of Mary (93) and Minnesota State University Moorhead (78) round out the top 10.

Upper Iowa University (57), Northern State (52), BSU (43) and UMC (26) round out the teams in the NSIC.

The NSIC also released the 2009 NSIC Players to Watch. The two Beavers that made the list were second baseman Mara Johnson (Sr., Bemidji, Minn.) and pitcher Alison Willard (Sr., Hutchinson, Minn.).

Johnson appeared in all 29 games last year, leading the team in hits (28), doubles (7), home runs (3), runs batted in (12) and slug percentage (.506). She was also second in batting average (.322) and on-base percentage (.366). Johnson has been named to the NSIC All-Conference Honorable Mention squad the last two years.

Willard made 16 appearances last season, making 11 starts and recording two complete games in 55.2 innings pitched. She was second on the team with 29 strikeouts. Her and Johnson are two of five seniors on the Beaver squad.

Bemidji State will open the 2009 season in St. Cloud, Minn., as the Beavers compete in the Husky Dome Tournament. BSU will played the University of South Dakota, Northern State University and Valley City State University on Feb. 28 before finishing the tournament the following day with a game against St. Cloud State. The first home games are scheduled for Apr. 1 against the University of Mary.

2009 NSIC Softball Preseason Coaches’ Poll
(first-place votes in parentheses)

1 Winona State (8) 175
2 Minnesota State (3) 165
3 Southwest Minnesota State (3) 164
4 Concordia-St. Paul 135
5 Wayne State 128
6 Minnesota Duluth 127
7 Augustana 107
8 St. Cloud State 106
9 University of Mary 93
10 MSU Moorhead 78
11 Upper Iowa 57
12 Northern State 52
13 Bemidji State 43
14 Minnesota, Crookston 26

Preseason Player of Year: Abby Brundidge, Jr., IF/OF, R/R, Concordia-St. Paul
Preseason Pitcher of the Year: Amanda Johnson, Sr., R/R, SW Minnesota State