Softball Ranked No. 14 in NFCA Preseason Top-25 Poll
St. Louis, Mo., February 2, 2011 – The Washington University in St. Louis softball team is ranked No. 14 in the National Fastpitch Coaches Association (NFCA) Preseason Division III Top-25 Poll, as announced Wednesday by the web site.
Washington University returns five starters and 12 letterwinners from a year ago, when the Bears posted a 37-11 overall record and a third-place finish at the NCAA Division III Central Regional. The 37 wins tied for the second most in school history, and the Bears also placed second in the University Athletic Association (UAA) with a 5-3 mark.
"This team, just like any other team, has a lot to prove," said sixth-year head coach Leticia Pineda-Boutté. "We need to continue to work hard and continue to grow as a team and let our efforts speak for themselves."
Senior pitcher Claire Voris returns for her final year on the Danforth Campus. Voris, who plays third base when not in the circle, led a group of five Bears last season on the NFCA All-Midwest Region Team. Voris, the 2009 and 2010 UAA Most Valuable Player, posted a 21-7 overall record and a 1.97 earned run average in 26 starts for the Bears. She struck out a conference-best 222 batters in 181 1/3 innings pitched, while holding opponents to a .218 batting average. Voris also had a career season at the plate, batting .388 with five home runs and 27 RBIs.
A pair of all-Region selections also return in senior infielder Ally Berenter and junior infielder Corissa Santos. Berenter started 47 games a year ago - 23 games at third base and 24 games as the designated player - and was selected as the first-team utility player. She hit .356 with nine doubles, nine home runs and 37 RBIs in 2010.
Santos will anchor the Bears' infield at shortstop in 2011 after starting 45 games - 33 at second base, 10 in right field and one each at shortstop and third base - a year ago. She hit .407 with three home runs and 33 RBIs, and was second on the team in on-base percentage (.469). A first-team all-UAA selection, she also was tied for the lead in Division III with 20 doubles.
Sophomore outfielder Ashley Janssen came on late in the season and earned NCAA Division III Central Region all-Tournament team honors after hitting .364 with one home and four RBIs in five postseason games. Janssen started 27 games for the Bears in her rookie season batting .304 in just 69 plate appearances.
Junior Alyssa Abramoski started 44 games in the outfield for the Bears a season ago and hit .244 with one home run and 11 RBIs. Abramoski has started 84 career games, and will be the most experienced outfielder for the Bears in 2011. Pineda-Boutté will also look to junior Olivia Cook to split time on the mound and at third base. Cook posted a 12-4 record in 19 starts last season with a team-best 1.76 earned run average. Sophomore Kathy Peter saw limited time in the circle as a rookie, posting a 4-0 record with a 2.19 ERA in 38 1/3 innings pitched.
The Bears must replace four starters from a year ago, and Pineda-Boutté will look to sophomore infielder/outfielder Sondra Polonsky (.218, five RBI, 22 starts), junior infielder Rebecca Salisbury (.143, five RBI, 16 starts), sophomore infielder/catcher Alex Fjeldheim (.143), senior infielder Antonia Ferguson and sophomore infielder Claire Downs to help fill the void. Pineda-Boutté welcomes four newcomers to the 2011 roster who will also challenge for playing time: sophomore utility player Hilary Stepansky, freshman catcher Claire Henkel, freshman outfielder Maggie Mullen and freshman pitcher/infielder Kelsey Neal.
Pineda-Boutté has guided Washington U. to a 161-53 (.752) overall record in five seasons, including five-straight seasons of 25 or more wins, four University Athletic Association (UAA) titles and five NCAA Tournament appearances.
Washington University opens the season with a pair of games on Sunday, Feb. 27, at the Rhodes College Classic in Memphis, Tenn. The Bears take on Rhodes at 1 p.m. and #21 Transylvania University at 3 p.m. The Bears will face five teams this season ranked in the preseason top-25 poll (#4 DePauw, #12 Central, #17 Illinois Wesleyan, #21 Transylvania, #25 Brandeis).