BAY CITY, Mich. - The 2016 Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference Softball Preseason Coaches' Poll has been announced prior to the start of the new season. The defending GLIAC champion Wayne State Warriors are the favorites with Saginaw Valley State Cardinals predicted to finish second in the preseason conference rankings.
Lake Superior State, picked to finish 13th, opens the season with a four-game slate at the Finlandia Dome Tournament in Marquette, Mich., on Feb. 27-28. The Lakers will play three games on the tournament’s opening day and finish with a meeting against Edgewood on Feb. 28. The Lakers then travel to Clermont, Fla. for 12 games from March 2-9.
Last season the Lakers produced a 12-28 overall record and a 5-21 mark against Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference members. This season the Lakers introduce four freshmen and a pair of transfers to the GLIAC and return eight members from last season’s team, including 2015 All-GLIAC Honorable Mention Team members Carly Banchiu and Teryn Williams.
Perhaps the most pressing issue facing sixth-year head coach Lori Shimisaki’s squad is filling the void left by 2015 GLIAC Player of the Year Amanda Maxon due to graduation. Maxon led the GLIAC with a .476 batting average and finished tied for eighth in home runs, despite missing the final eight games of the season due to injury. Another cornerstone of the Laker lineup lost to graduation is pitcher Brandi Anderson. Anderson also batted .284, hit three home runs and drove in 18 runs while boasting a team-best 5.08 earned-run average and 45 strikeouts on the mound.
LSSU will rely on the added experience of Banchiu (.259 average, 1 home run, 12 RBIs) , Williams (.307 average, 1 HR, 16 RBIs) and Lindsey Pajot (.286 average and 12 RBIs) at the plate and the return of pitchers, senior Allysa Boucher and sophomore Riley Durbano.
Among the new additions to the Laker roster is freshman outfielder and Sault Area High School alumni Jenna Holt. The other freshmen joining Holt this season are pitcher Alyssa Thayer (Waterford, Mich.), infielder and member of the LSSU women's basketball team Katey Hendershott (Ortonville, Mich.) and outfielder Kelsey Mader (Mississauga, Ont.).
The Lakers also added a pair of student-athletes, juniors Sarah Miller and Kylie Durre, via transfer this season. Miller, a pitcher, joins the team after spending last season with NCAA Division I member Southern University. Durre an infielder/outfielder joins the team after two seasons with Corban University in Salem, Ore.