2016 NCAA Division III National Champions
@Patriot_sb picked to win ASC Softball Championship

Thursday, January 19, 2017
by Wes Bloomquist || wbloomquist@uttyler.edu

TYLER – The UT Tyler softball team is picked to win the American Southwest Conference after receiving 18 of 26 first-place votes in the ASC Preseason Poll with votes coming from the league's head coaches, sports information directors and media members. In addition to team respect, Alaina Kissinger, KK Stevens and Cheyenne Thompson were named to the ASC Players to Watch List in advance of the 2017 season.

“The preseason polls just mean to us the season is close,” UT Tyler head coach Mike Reed said. “Most of the time these polls are a reflection of what was accomplished the season before. I really like how hungry this team is to make their own mark. I think many people focus on what we lost and not what we have returning and our new players.”

UT Tyler is coming off winning the 2016 NCAA Division III National Championship, a 49-5 overall record and a 29-0 regular-season conference record. The Patriots return 11 players from the national championship run and welcome in 17 newcomers. East Texas Baptist, last year’s ASC Champion, is picked second in the poll with eight first-place votes after going 35-10 overall and winning the ASC tournament in Tyler. UT Dallas is picked third, Mary Hardin-Baylor fourth and Louisiana College is fifth in the 11-team conference.

Kissinger and Stevens are three-time All-ASC performers for the Patriots, while Thompson is coming off a freshman season where she emerged in the second half of the season to help lead the team to the national championship. Kissinger enters this season with a 44-2 overall record and a 0.91 ERA in her career. A right-handed pitcher from Telephone, Kissinger went 13-1 last season including earning the win in the final game of the season over Messiah to secure the program’s first national championship. She has 288 career strikeouts in 301 innings as a Patriot. Stevens earned NFCA All-America honors as a sophomore and all-region last season as the team’s catcher. A Plano native, Stevens started all 54 games at catcher last season and hit .365 with eight home runs and 36 RBI. She enters her final season at UT Tyler with 18 career home runs and 108 RBI. A sophomore from Mexia, Thompson hit .403 with 31 total hits and 23 RBI.

UT Tyler opens the 2017 season on Friday, Feb. 3 against Pacific and Centenary in a pair of non-conference games at Suddenlink Field before opening ASC play with a three-game series against Hardin-Simmons on Feb. 10-11 in Abilene. The Patriots are entering their 13th season in program history and own a 469-103 all-time record. Reed has coached the team since the program has started after three seasons at ETBU. He comes into the season with 574 career wins.

2017 ASC Softball Preseason Poll
Rank
Team (1st place votes)
Pts.
2016 Record (ASC)
1.
UT Tyler (18)
277
49-5 (29-0)
2.
East Texas Baptist (8)
267
35-10 (24-5)
3.
UT Dallas
228
25-20 (18-12)
4.
Mary Hardin-Baylor
194
20-21 (16-14)
5.
Louisiana College
183
18-23 (15-15)
6.
LeTourneau
158
20-22 (17-13)
7.
Hardin-Simmons
136
16-21 (12-18)
8.
Howard Payne
108
16-22 (12-18)
9.
Concordia Texas
73
8-32 (5-25)
10.
Univ. of Ozarks
67
11-25 (11-19)
11.
Sul Ross State
48
7-31 (5-25)
 
Belhaven#
 
36-9
# Ineligible for 2017 ASC Championship/NCAA Tournament (Div. III Provisional)
 
2017 ASC Softball Preseason Players to Watch
Players selected by their respective head coach
 
Name
Cl.
Pos.
School
Savannah Lyon
Sr.
CF
Belhaven
Makayla Reed
Jr.
3B
Belhaven
Taylor Surrento
Sr.
RHP
Belhaven
Halley Dennett
So.
SS/P
Concordia Texas
Kati Turner
So.
RHP
Concordia Texas
Brittani Whitten
Jr.
OF
Concordia Texas
Kaitlyn Hollingshead*
Sr.
SS
East Texas Baptist
Lacey Lindsey*
Sr.
1B
East Texas Baptist
Jayme Perez*
Sr.
DB
East Texas Baptist
Lexie Allen
Fr.
RHP
Hardin-Simmons
Lauren Williams*
Sr.
C
Hardin-Simmons
Alexis Vines
Sr.
1B
Hardin-Simmons
Audrey Simpson
So.
RHP
Howard Payne
Courtney Matulis
Sr.
UT
LeTourneau
Macey Mize
So.
C
LeTourneau
Ashlin Roach*
Jr.
SS
LeTourneau
Savannah Settle*
Jr.
RHP
Louisiana College
Mattie Stine
Jr.
1B
Louisiana College
Sami Walters
Fr.
2B
Louisiana College
Leah Brown*
Sr.
3B
Mary Hardin-Baylor
Karley Free*
Jr.
1B
Mary Hardin-Baylor
Karen Tennis*
So.
RHP
Mary Hardin-Baylor
Kayla Gray
Sr.
2B
Univ. of Ozarks
Laken Gray
Sr.
C
Univ. of Ozarks
Krysten Shavers
Sr.
1B
Univ. of Ozarks
Jackie Gonzalez
Jr.
RHP
Sul Ross State
Jav’ana Gonzalez
So.
SS
Sul Ross State
Zuriah Leyva
So.
3B
Sul Ross State
Melissa Livermore*
So.
OF
UT Dallas
Lauren McLeod*
Sr.
RHP
UT Dallas
Jessica Vlasek
Fr.
C/UT
UT Dallas
Alaina Kissinger*
Sr.
RHP
UT Tyler
KK Stevens*
Sr.
C
UT Tyler
Cheyenne Thompson
So.
OF
UT Tyler
*2016 All-Conference