The University of Findlay softball team was picked to finish eighth in the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (GLIAC) this season as the league office unveiled their annual preseason poll on Feb. 26.
The Oilers received 98 points in the poll and Grand Valley State University was picked as the preseason favorite with 159 points and six first place votes.
Findlay finished with a 27-15 record last season and will return a total of nine players who racked up more than 20 starts in 2013. The Oilers also went 13-12 in the GLIAC last season and qualified for the conference tournament. They are hoping that experience will carry over into another successful campaign in 2014.
In the infield, senior second basemen Tori Allen returns to lead a talented group. Allen was a first team all-conference performer for the Oilers last season when she hit .315 with 15 doubles and 29 runs batted in. Also returning will be seniors Emily Reynolds and Jackie Messersmith, who will cover the shortstop and third base positions, respectively. Reynolds hit .328 last season with seven home runs and 35 runs batted in while Messersmith is a real weapon at third base due to her strong throwing arm. Reynolds also earned honorable mention all-conference honors last year for Findlay.
In the outfield, seniors Courtney Dwyer and Anna Britvec will lead the group as the two of them combined for a total of 65 starts last year. Dwyer hit .270 on the year with 12 runs batted in while Britvec provided solid defense and speed in the outfield.
Senior Tawna Whited will return and anchor the Oilers pitching staff after being named honorable mention all-conference in 2013. Whited finished with a 14-5 record last season and led the club with 98 strikeouts. She also smacked three home runs and drove in 17 runs at the plate. Sophomore Nicole Motuza will also be looking for a bigger role on the Oilers staff this season. She finished with a 1-2 record last year in ten games played. Sophomore Bonnie Zappitelli also returns after throwing 30.2 innings for Findlay in 2013.