2016 NCAA Division III National Champions
@Patriot_sb to enter season ranked No. 1 in NFCA poll

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

TYLER – The UT Tyler softball team will enter the season ranked No. 1 in the nation.

NFCA PRESS RELEASE

The Patriots, who are coming off winning the 2016 NCAA Division III National Championship, are the top team in the National Fastpitch Coaches Association (NFCA) Top-25 Preseason Poll for the second straight year after going 49-5 last season and winning the program’s first national title. St. John Fisher is second in the poll, while Messiah, Emory and East Texas Baptist round out the top-5. Texas Lutheran, which was last year’s Tyler Regional runner-up, is at No. 7 in the NFCA Preseason Poll.

UT Tyler opens its 2017 season at 3 p.m. on Friday against Pacific University and at 5 p.m. against Centenary at Suddenlink Field.

The Patriots, who were 22-2 at home last year, return 11 players from the national championship run and welcome in 17 newcomers. Alaina Kissinger and KK 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.

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.

NFCA DIVISION III TOP 25 PRESEASON POLL – FEB. 1, 2017

Rank Team 2016 Record Points
1 Texas-Tyler (8) 49-5 200
St. John Fisher 41-12 192
3 Messiah 47-6 184
4 Emory 46-8 176
5 East Texas Baptist 35-10 161
Berry 39-8 154
7 Texas Lutheran 43-5 152
8 Luther 40-5 151
Manhattanville 41-5 142
10 Linfield 32-16 100
11 Rowan 42-11 89
12 Alma 33-10 81
13 (tie) Birmingham-Southern 37-10 70
  St. Catherine 34-11 70
15 Worcester Polytechnic Institute 38-9 66
16 Christopher Newport 35-9 62
17 Moravian 37-6 56
18 St. Thomas (Minn.) 43-8 54
19 (tie) Massachusetts Institute of Technology 34-14 49
  Trine 33-14 49
  Wisconsin-Eau Claire 26-13-1 49
22 Claremont-Mudd-Scripps 37-10-1 46
23 Williams 35-11 39
24 Cortland 38-11 38
25 Virginia Wesleyan 38-7 29

Others receiving votes: Central (Iowa) 21, Salisbury 20, Wisconsin-Whitewater 17, Ithaca 16, DePauw 15, Illinois Wesleyan 11, Tufts 11, Washington (Mo.) 10, Aurora 8, Randolph Macon 4 and Otterbein 1.