Softball Picked 12th in MIAA Preseason Coaches Poll


KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Fort Hays State was tabbed 12th in the 2019 MIAA Softball Preseason Coaches Poll on Wednesday (Jan. 30). The Tigers were picked where they finished in the standings last year.

Fort Hays State enters its fifth season under the guidance of head coach Adrian Pilkington. The Tigers will be in search of their first MIAA Tournament appearance since 2016 after finishing 12th in the standings each of the last two years. FHSU finished 13-37 overall last year and 8-18 in the MIAA.

Fort Hays State is still a youthful team in 2019 with no seniors on the roster. However, eight of the 15 members of the roster are entering their junior season. With the seasoning of several underclassmen coupled with a few key transfers, the Tigers are looking to find another gear this year and improve their MIAA standing after being stuck in neutral last year in regards to position in the standings.

Fort Hays State saw three freshmen lead the way in batting average last year as Grace PhilopSara Breckbill, and Terran Caldwell all hit over .300 for the season. Philop was the team leader in batting average at .333, while Breckbill tied for the team lead in home runs with five. Both were All-MIAA selections in their first collegiate season. Bailey Boxberger, who enters her junior season in 2019, led the team in RBIs last year with 27 and tied Breckbill for the team lead in home runs with five.The Tigers return six of the nine players from their regular starting lineup last year, while four newcomers (two juniors, two freshmen) look to work into the mix for hitting and fielding.

Pitching will need to improve in 2018 for the Tigers to see more success. The team had a 5.22 ERA compared to opponents posting 2.84 ERA against the Tigers. Hailey Chapman was the team leader in ERA (4.52), innings pitched (164), complete games (15) and strikeouts (124) last year. Junior transfer Michaelanne Nelson from Connors State (Okla.) looks to make an immediate impact in the circle after earning all-region honors at the NJCAA level last year.

Fort Hays State opens the season with four games in Bentonville, Arkansas, February 9-10. The Tigers are slated to play 10 doubleheaders in Hays this year, with the first on March 5 against Kansas Wesleyan University.

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