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Titans Ranked 23rd In Preseason National Softball Poll

Titans Ranked 23rd In Preseason National Softball Poll

The UW-Oshkosh softball team will enter the 2018 season ranked 23rd in the NCAA Division III by the National Fastpitch Coaches Association (NFCA).

UW-Oshkosh returns its entire starting lineup from last season's squad that compiled a 33-13 record, won a regional championship for the first time since 1988 and set a WIAC mark with 87 doubles. The Titans ended the 2017 season ranked 18th by the NFCA.

Defending national champion Virginia Wesleyan University (54-3 record in 2017) is the unanimous top-ranked team in the 2018 NFCA preseason poll.

St. John Fisher College (N.Y.) (44-8), last year's national runner-up, is ranked second. Following the Cardinals are third-ranked University of Texas at Tyler (46-6), fourth-ranked Williams College (Mass.) (38-13) and fifth-ranked Illinois Wesleyan University (37-15).

Rounding out the NFCA's top 10 teams are Trine University (Ind.) (37-10) in sixth, Amherst College (Mass.) (34-12) in seventh, St. Catherine University (Minn.) (38-14) in eighth, Luther College (Iowa) (41-5) in ninth and Texas Lutheran University (38-6) in 10th.

Each of the NFCA's top eight teams advanced to last year's final tournament in Oklahoma City, Okla.

UW-Oshkosh will play four games this season against programs ranked in the NFCA's preseason top 25. The Titans are set to battle 25th-ranked Babson College (Mass.) (33-16) on March 3 in Tucson, Ariz.; Williams College on March 19 in Clermont, Fla.; and 11th-ranked UW-Whitewater (37-9) in a doubleheader on April 21 in Whitewater.

Last season UW-Oshkosh compiled a 2-4 record against teams ranked in the 2018 NCFA preseason poll. The Titans defeated Amherst College, 6-3, and St. Catherine University by a 6-5 score before suffering a pair of setbacks to UW-Whitewater during the regular season and to Trine University at the Angola (Ind.) Super Regional.

UW-Oshkosh fifth-year head coach Scott Beyer welcomes back 13 letter winners from last year's team, including two-time All-Great Lakes Region selections Erika Berry and Abby Menting.

Berry, a senior third baseman, matched a Division III record last year with four doubles in a game and tied a program mark with five hits in one contest. She heads into her final season with a .343 career batting average.

Menting, a junior catcher, has led the Titans during both of her two seasons in batting average, hits, home runs, runs batted in, on-base percentage and slugging percentage. The 2016 WIAC Co-Position Player of the Year has a .403 career batting average with 12 home runs and a .663 slugging percentage.

Also back for the Titans are a pair of 2017 All-WIAC honorable mention choices in sophomore shortstop Natalie Dudek and junior first baseman Kaitlyn Krol.

Dudek hit .307 and produced a .959 fielding percentage while starting each of the Titans' 46 games in her first collegiate season. Krol had a .324 batting average with three home runs and 31 runs batted in.

UW-Oshkosh begins the 2018 season against Concordia University Wisconsin and The College of St. Scholastica (Minn.) on Feb. 24 in Marquette, Mich.

NFCA NCAA Division III Preseason Poll Release