Big Rapids, Mich. - The Ferris State University softball team has been chosen to finish third in the 2012 Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (GLIAC) North Division Coaches Poll announced recently.
The Bulldogs tallied 16 points to finish behind Grand Valley State (24) and Saginaw Valley State (22) in the divisional race. Tiffin was tabbed as the South Division favorite with 23 points in voting conducted by the league's 12 head coaches.
Nationally, Saginaw Valley State is picked fourth in the National Fastpitch Coaches Association (NFCA) Division II Preseason Poll with GVSU listed 18th in the country. A year ago, SVSU reached the NCAA-II Natioanl Championships.
This year's GLIAC Softball Tournament will take place April 27-29 at the Marathon Diamonds in Findlay, Ohio.
Fifteen returnees and eight starters will be back this seaosn for the Bulldogs, who will be under the guidance of first-year coach Dawn Thompson. She takes over following longtime head coach Keri Becker's departure.
The Bulldogs should be poised to make a run at yet another league crown as three players who earned All-GLIAC accolades last year are back in the lineup, including the reigning GLIAC Player of the Year in senior first baseman Chelsea Morris, who drove in 46 runs and had a team-leading 51 hits a season ago with nine homers.
Also back is senior outfielder Stephanie Dusendang, a All-GLIAC Second Team pick last year, along with junior designated player Lindsey Pettit, who garned conference honorable mention accolades. Last season, Pettit hit a squad-best .362 for the year with 34 hits and 25 RBI's. Junior Dana Bowler is the team's top returning pitcher after posting a 17-10 mark last year with 125 strikeouts.
Ferris State will officially open the 2012 campaign by taking part in the Florida Rebel Spring Games March 3-10 in Kissimmee, Fla. The Bulldogs are slated to play 13 games over the eight-day stretch prior to returning back to Big Rapids for a non-league home opening doubleheader versus Aquinas on March 19 at the FSU Softball Field.
FSU posted a 24-23 overall record for the 2011 season, which included an 18-12 GLIAC North Division mark.
Visit this link for a complete look at the GLIAC Preseason Poll: