LOUISVILLE, Ky. -- Central Oklahoma (51-11) will begin defense of its 2013 national championship as the unanimous No. 1 selection in the 2014 NFCA Division II Preseason Poll that was released by the Association.The Bronchos picked up all 16 possible first-place votes from the members of the NFCA Division II Top 25 Committee to commandeer the top position, while last season’s national runner-up Kutztown (37-22) followed closely behind in second.
Despite losing head coach Genny Stidham to Texas Woman’s during the offseason, UCO and interim head coach Cody White return eight starters off last year’s NCAA title-winning squad, including a pair of NFCA All-Central Region selections in senior pitcher Kalynn Schrock (34-6 record, 1.69 ERA, 312 strikeouts in 265.2 innings) and sophomore second baseman Ally Dziadula (.355 average, 58 runs scored, five HR’s, 11 stolen bases, 21 RBIs).
Kutztown, the defending Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference (PSAC) champion, returns six starters from its 2013 team, including senior outfielder and two-time All-PSAC choice Jackie Hetzler (.310 average, 46 stolen bases), senior first baseman and 2013 All-PSAC and NFCA All-Atlantic Region selection Colleen Smith (.364 average, 14 HR’s, 53 RBIs) and junior pitcher Dominique Ficara (21-13 record in 237 innings with a conference best nine shutouts in 2013).
A trio of 2013 NCAA DII Championship finalists, Grand Valley State (46-9), Humboldt State (53-14) and Armstrong Atlantic State (44-10-1), rounded out the top five.
2012 national champ Valdosta State (46-13), Indianapolis (54-8) and Alabama Huntsville (43-17) were listed at sixth, seventh and ninth, respectively. No. 8 West Texas A&M (44-13) and No. 10 Southeastern Oklahoma State (45-9) were among the biggest movers in the preseason poll, climbing from among those receiving votes in the final 2013 rankings into the new top 10.
Joining the Lady Buffs and the Savage Storm as additions to the 2014 preseason listing were No. 11 LIU Post (47-15), No. 15 North Georgia (36-14), No. 21 UC San Diego (33-25), No. 22 Augustana SD (32-17), No. 23 Dixie State (40-14) and No. 24 Barry (34-20).
In all eight squads dropped from last year’s final rankings: Molloy (No. 6), Winona State (No. 10), Cal State Dominguez Hills (No. 13), Adelphi (No. 14), St. Edward’s (No. 15), Fort Hays State (No. 16), West Chester (No. 17) and Minnesota State Mankato (No. 25).