ASC Preseason Poll
RANK SCHOOL
East  
1 Texas-Tyler
2 Louisiana College
3 East Texas Baptist
4 Mississippi College
5 LeTourneau
6 Texas-Dallas
7 Ozarks
West  
1 Mary Hardin-Baylor
2 Hardin-Simmons
3 Concordia Texas
4 Schreiner
5 Howard Payne
6 Texas Lutheran
7 Sul Ross State

Louisiana College Athletics

RICHARDSON, Texas -- The University of Texas at Tyler and the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor have been predicted to win 2011 American Southwest Conference softball division titles, it was announced by the league office after a vote of each division’s head coaches, sports information directors and selected media members. Texas-Tyler’s Joey Cronin, Louisiana College’s Rene Schwartzenburg, Howard Payne University’s Ashley Silva and Hardin-Simmons University’s Megann Lewis earned preseason individual honors.

Texas-Tyler, which went 39-9 overall and 20-4 in league play last season en route to its first East Division title, collected 126 points and six of the 21 possible first-place votes in the annual poll to be the division favorite. Head coach Mike Reed’s Patriots, who won the 2009 ASC title and have advanced to three consecutive NCAA tournaments – including a fifth-place finish in the 2009 National Finals, hit a league-high .333 with 38 home runs last season.

Defending ASC champion Louisiana College, which went 44-8 overall (19-5 ASC) last year, picked up 124 points and nine first place votes to be the second-place pick. The Lady Wildcats are under the direction of interim head coach Danielle Price. LC has won three conference titles and advanced to six NCAA playoffs in a row, including a third-place finish in the 2008 National Finals. Defending national champion East Texas Baptist University (40-12, 16-8 ASC) was predicted for a third-place finish after totaling 119 points and five top-spot votes. Lady Tigers head coach Jane Schlabs-Shirley’s Lady Tigers, who captured ASC crowns from 2000-2004, became the first softball program from the ASC to hoist the national title trophy. UT Tyler, LC and ETBU would be the three teams from the East Division to qualify for the ASC Championship Tournament.

Mississippi College, which went 29-13 (15-9 ASC) and advanced to the NCAA tournament last season, picked up 86 points and the final first-place vote to be the fourth-place selection in the East. LeTourneau University (56 pts.) was fifth, followed by the University of Texas at Dallas (53 pts.) and the University of the Ozarks (24 pts.).

Mary Hardin-Baylor, which went 26-17 overall and 21-3 in league play last season to claim its third West Division title in four seasons, received 139 points and all but six of the 21 possible first-place votes to be the favorite to repeat. UMHB is under the direction of first-year head coach Larry Hennig. In 2010, the Cru led the division with a .310 batting average, 27 homers and a .964 fielding percentage.

Hardin-Simmons (24-13, 17-7 ASC) was picked for a runner-up finish in the West after totaling 123 points and five first-place votes. The Cowgirls led the division with a 1.87 ERA last year. Concordia University Texas was predicted in the third spot with 102 points and the final top-spot vote. UMHB, HSU and CTX would round out the West’s three ASC tournament teams.

Schreiner University was picked fourth in the West with 77 points, followed by Howard Payne University (69 pts.), Texas Lutheran University (52 pts.) and Sul Ross State University (26 pts).

Cronin, a sophomore outfielder, was named ASC East Division Preseason Player of the Year after batting .405 with 13 home runs, 14 doubles, four triples and 48 RBIs. She led the league with 123 total bases and tied for tops in homers.

Schwartzenburg, a senior right-hander, was named ASC East Division Pitcher of the Year after going 27-3 with a league-low 1.03 ERA to fuel a conference title. Schwartzenburg also led the league with 195 strikeouts over 182 2/3 innings of work and hurled 12 shutouts.

Silva, a senior first baseman, is expected to repeat the title of ASC West Division Player of the Year. Silva batted a division-high .448 with three home runs, eight doubles and 20 RBIs over 87 at-bats. She also drew 27 walks and struck out just thee times.

Lewis, a senior right-hander, was predicted to repeat her title of ASC West Division Pitcher of the Year. In 2010, Lewis went 12-7 with one save and a division-low 1.41 ERA. She struck out 122 batters over 129 1/3 innings of work.

Cronin, Schwartzenburg, Silva and Lewis were all first team ASC all-division selections last year.