LOUISVILLE, Kent. — Oklahoma Christian's softball team will start the 2020 season on the national radar.
OC received votes in the National Fastpitch Coaches Association's NCAA Division II preseason poll, released Wednesday. The Eagles picked up 13 points in the voting, good for a tie for 27th place with West Liberty (W.Va.), just two spots out of the top 25. The No. 25 team, Saint Leo (Fla.), received 32 points.
Four other Lone Star Conference teams cracked the top 25 — No. 2 Texas A&M-Kingsville, No. 10 Texas A&M-Commerce, No. 15 Cameron and No. 21 Tarleton State (Texas). TAMUK was last season's Division II runner-up, while Cameron lost to TAMUK in a best-of-three super regional. Both TAMUC and OC advanced to regional finals in last year's NCAA tournament, while Tarleton State qualified for the NCAA tournament.
OC won the Heartland Conference regular-season and tournament titles in 2019, posting a 40-16 record. The Eagles lost 5-4 to TAMUK in Kingsville, Texas, in a Division II regional final.
OC, which will compete this season in the LSC, returns five starters from last season – senior utility player Bailey Strecker, senior infielder Brie Dunckel (last season's Heartland tournament most valuable player), junior outfielder-pitcher junior Lindsey Stoeckel, outfielder Daelyn Denny and sophomore pitcher Kali Crandall.
In the LSC preseason poll released Tuesday, TAMUK was No. 1, followed by TAMUC and Tarleton State, with OC and Cameron tied for fourth.
Since OC began competing at the Division II level in 2013, the Eagles never have cracked the top 25 in the NFCA poll, although OC received votes in three polls last season, including the one at season's end.
The 2020 preseason top 10 consisted of Augustana (S.D.), TAMUK, Grand Valley State (Mich.), West Florida, Young Harris (Ga.), California-San Diego, Central Oklahoma, West Chester (Pa.), Florida Tech and TAMUC and Concordia (Calif.), which tied for 10th. Sixteen coaches – two representing each of Division II's regions – vote in the poll.
OC will open its season on Jan. 31 against Central Washington in the Desert Stinger in Las Vegas, Nev. The Eagles' home opener will be Feb. 7 against Colorado School of Mines.