VERMILLION, S.D.—South Dakota's softball team has been picked to finish fourth in the Summit League standings according to a preseason poll conducted by the League's seven head coaches.
The Coyotes, 29-20 overall and 12-7 in the Summit last season, return nearly everyone to its batting lineup including four all-league honorees. The team must replace 17-game winner Erica Denney in the circle, but returns sophomore pitcher Madison Frain, who started 17 games as a freshman.
Two-time defending regular season champion North Dakota State was made the favorite to win the 2014 crown. The Bison received four first-place votes and totaled 33 points in the poll. Omaha won't be eligible to compete in the League's postseason tournament, but totaled 31 points and was predicted to finish second. Fort Wayne earned two first-place votes and 29 points for third place in the poll.
South Dakota and Western Illinois received 18 points each. IUPUI (12 points) and South Dakota State (6 points) rounded out the poll.
Head coach Amy Klyse is set to begin her seventh season with the Coyotes, who open their 2014 campaign Feb. 7-9 at a tournament hosted by Central Florida in Orlando.
2014 Summit League Softball Preseason Poll
Place Team Points (1st) 2013 Record
1. North Dakota State 33 (4) 33-16, 17-1 SL
2. Omaha 31 (1) 36-7, 14-3 SL
3. Fort Wayne 29 (2) 34-16, 12-4 SL
4. South Dakota 18 29-20, 12-7 SL
Western Illinois 18 14-23, 8-14 SL
6. IUPUI 12 18-31, 7-16 SL
7. South Dakota State 6 16-30, 6-17 SL