Bloomsburg set to continue tradition
Notes: Hawaii Pacific is off to a 3-1 start
Two top Division II schools will begin their 2011 seasons with new head coaches for the first time in over three decades.
Defending Atlantic Region and Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference champion Bloomsburg saw head softball and field hockey coach Jan Hutchinson retire following the 2009-10 school year. Hutchinson had guided the Huskies field hockey program to four consecutive NCAA Division II Championships (16 total NCAA field hockey titles). Hutchinson and her staff were named the 2010 National Fastpitch Coaches Association (NFCA) Atlantic Region Coaching Staff of the Year following a 59-8 record and NCAA Championship finals appearance. Hutchinson, a 2004 inductee into the NFCA Hall of Fame, was the winningest coach in Division II softball history with a record of 1,215-288 over her 33 years as the head softball coach at Bloomsburg.
Hutchinson is replaced by long-time assistant Susan Kocher, who spent 23 years at Bloomsburg as an assistant coach after playing four years for Hutchinson and the Huskies. She was part of 1,104 of Hutchinson’s wins as a player and head coach. Bloomsburg is ranked No. 4 in the NFCA Division II Preseason Poll.
At Muskingum University, Kari Hoying takes over for legendary head coach Donna Newberry, who passed away on Nov. 10, 2010, following her third battle with cancer.
Newberry, a 2008 inductee into the NFCA Hall of Fame, recorded her 900th career victory on April 20, 2010, becoming just the 25th coach across all divisions to reach that milestone. During her 36 seasons as head coach of the Muskies, Newberry piloted the softball program to 18 Ohio Athletic Conference championships, 12 straight OAC championship game appearances, 18 NCAA Regional appearances and eight NCAA Division II championship final-8 appearances including the 2001 NCAA Division II Championship.
Hoying served for two seasons as Newberry’s assistant following an award-winning career for Muskingum, including two NFCA/Louisville Slugger All-America honors and two OAC Player of the Year awards.
Need to Know
• Defending Division I Champion UCLA opens its 2011 season on Friday, hosting the Stacy Winsberg Memorial Tournament at Easton Stadium. The Bruins are ranked No. 1 in the USA Today/NFCA Division I preseason poll, and No. 2 behind Arizona in the ESPN.com/USA Softball Collegiate Top 25, although UCLA holds more first-place votes with 10 to Arizona’s nine.
• Hawaii Pacific is the defending NCAA Division II Champion and the Sea Warriors are off to a 3-1 start on the young season. HPU swept a doubleheader from Gustavus Adolphus on Thursday, winning 7-1 and 20-3 (5 inn) before splitting a doubleheader with No. 18 Rollins, winning 1-0 and losing 7-3. HPU is ranked third in the NFCA Division II preseason poll, behind No 1. Valdosta State and No. 2 North Georgia. Valdosta State’s season-opening tournament was rained out last weekend. North Georgia opened last weekend at the Aiken Early Bird Tournament with a 3-0 record and wins against Barton, Charleston and Chowan.
• In Division III, defending NCAA Champion East Texas Baptist stands at No. 10 in the NFCA Division III Top 25. None of the top-five teams in the NFCA poll open play prior to Feb. 23. Those five teams are No. 1 Linfield, No. 2 Eastern Connecticut, No. 3 Louisiana College, No. 4 DePauw and No. 5 Luther.
• Most top Division I teams open play this weekend. Arguably the top tournament of the weekend is the Kajikawa Classic, hosted by No. 13 Arizona State. Six other Top 25 teams are in the tournament field including Arizona, Oklahoma, Oregon, BYU, Stanford and Texas A&M.