INDIANAPOLIS – After claiming the G-MAC regular season crown a year ago, the Ohio Dominican softball team was picked to claim the G-MAC title in voting conducted by the leagues' head coaches.
The Panthers accrued 136 points gathering nine of the possible 13 first place votes. Trevecca Nazarene is projected second with 121 points and one first place vote while Tiffin was projected third, also with one first place vote. Hillsdale is projected fourth with 108 points while Cedarville and Kentucky Wesleyan were fifth and sixth each accruing a first place vote.
Head Coach Marcella Vanlandingham enters her 25th season at the helm for the Panthers compiling an overall career record of 700-581-1 (.546) and an impressive 339-165 conference record (.673). Vanlandingham earned G-MAC Coach of the Year honors a year ago with the team going 32-22 overall and 21-5 in the conference where they clinched the No.1 seed in the conference.
The Panthers return 15 players from the team a year ago including five players that earned All-Conference honors.
Sophomore Sydney Long (Ashland, Ohio) and senior Cameron Barber (Powell, Ohio) will handle the duties in the circle this season. Long was named to the First Team All-GMAC a year ago appearing in 29 games making 21 starts with a 13-7 record with one save. Long had an earned run average of 2.41 and had 16 complete games including four complete game shutouts which also including a no-hitter on March 19 against Cedarville. Barber was the other force in the circle starting 25 games earning a 16-9 record and 10 complete games. The Second Team All-Conference performer from a year ago had an ERA of 3.90 including a team high 145 strikeouts and also had 10 complete games including two shutouts.
Barber will also be a key contributor at the plate as she hit .336 in all 54 games played. The senior had 37 RBI's a year ago which was second on the team and led the Panthers in on-base percentage at .413.
Senior Landry Slider (Stow, Ohio) was the other Panther returner named to the First Team All-Conference team where she led the team with a batting average of .369 and a team high 40 RBI's. The senior infielder will likely move to catcher this season after playing third base the last two seasons.
Fellow senior Taylor Farmer (Mt. Blanchard, Ohio) was named to the Second Team All-Conference team a year ago where she led the Panthers with 10 home runs and 28 RBI's.
Kristen Bales (Pickerington, Ohio) is the final Panther returning that earned All-Conference honors. The junior centerfielder played in every game for ODU a year ago hitting .341 with 10 doubles and 36 RBI's which also included six home runs which was tied for second on the team.
Fellow junior Carson Hackerd (Frankfort, Ind.) joins Bales in the outfield and a year ago hit .337 with a team high 15 doubles, three triples and was third on the Panthers with nine stolen bases.
The Panthers begin their season February 8 traveling to the Lee University Tournament where they will play the host and Columbus St. (Ga.) to open the season before playing Illinois-Springfield and Shorter the following day. ODU plays 12 games in the month of February before hosting Bellarmine in the home-opener March 1.
Great Midwest Softball Preseason Coaches Poll presented by Under Armour
- Ohio Dominican - 136 pts (9 first-place votes)
- Trevecca Nazarene - 121 pts (1 first-place vote)
- Tiffin - 115 pts (1 first-place vote)
- Hillsdale - 108 pts
- Cedarville - 107 pts (1 first-place vote)
- Kentucky Wesleyan - 94 pts (1 first-place vote)
- Findlay - 81 pts
- Malone - 79 pts
- Ursuline - 49 pts
- Walsh - 42 pts
- Lake Erie - 36 pts
- Alderson Broaddus - 34 pts
- Ohio Valley - 12 pts