The North Dakota State softball team was selected as the Summit League preseason softball favorites. The team received six out of seven first place votes for a total of 36 points, in a poll of the league’s seven head coaches.
NDSU finished last year with a 39-15 overall record, 17-0 in the Summit League, to capture the regular season title for the fifth consecutive year. The Bison won their third consecutive league tournament title in 2016.
NDSU have a league-best three first team all-league selections returning this season, including catcher Alyssa Reina, outfielder Katie Shoultz and pitcher Jacquelyn Sertic. Aslo returning are three second-teamers of infielder Zoe Stavrou, pitcher KK Leddy and third basemen Julia Luciano.
Reina was one of five players to start all 54 games for the Bison and earned NFCA All-Midwest Region first team. She also earned All-Summit League first team honors.
With a batting average of .335 with seven home runs and 49 RBIs, Reina only had three fielding errors in 333 fielding chances for a .991 fielding average with 24 assists.
Shoultz started in all 51 games she played in and was third on the team with a .341 batting average with 48 runs scored. Shoultz committed no errors on 53 fielding chances included four outfield assists.
Shoultz earned All-Summit League first team honors after hitting .362 with 19 runs scored and 12 stolen bases during the regular season.
Sertic was last year’s Summit League Pitcher of the Year, starting 33 games and made 44 appearances overall. Sertic lead the league in wins (24), earned run average (2.26) and strikeouts (216). Sertic walked 71 in 210.2 innings pitched and made no errors in 29 fielding chances with 25 assists.
Sertic earned NFCA All-Midwest Region first team to go along with her All-Summit League first team honors and POTY award. She finished with a 24-7 record with 25 complete games, six shutouts and one save. She was perfect 9-0 in the Summit with a 1.53 ERA in league play with 81 strikeouts and 19 walks in 59.2 innings pitched. Eight of her 25 complete games came in league play along with three of her six shutouts.
NDSU starts their season with the Cal State Fullerton Easton Invitational Friday through Sunday in Fullerton, California. The opener will be against Loyola Marymount. The Bison will play five games throughout the three days.
The Bison will start Summit League play April 1 and 2 with a three-game series at Fort Wayne. NDSU will have their first home series April 8 with a three-game series in a rematch of last year’s Summit League Championship against IUPUI April 8 and 9.
Summit League teams will have a combined 21 games against teams ranked in the preseason top-25 of the USA Softball Collegiate Top 25. The Bison have the most with eight games followed by South Dakota with seven and Omaha with four games. Fort Wayne and IUPUI will face Notre Dame.
The top six regular-season finishers will qualify for the Summit League Softball Championship in Fargo May 10-13.