A doubleheader today against Birmingham Southern officially kicks off a new season for the DePauw softball team, who is ranked third in the NCAA Division III NFCA Coaches Preseason Poll behind No. 1 Texas-Tyler and No. 2 Salisbury.
The Tigers finished 36-16 overall and 14-2 in the North Coast Athletic Conference a year ago. They won their second straight NCAC tournament title and earned the program's seventh trip to the NCAA DIII postseason. In the process they won the NCAA DIII Regional title before finishing the season tied for fifth with an 8-0 loss to Linfield College.
Expectations will be high with the departure of just three seniors – Kahla Nolan, Taylor Golden and Jennifer Ridge. Nolan will be especially tough to replace after earning All-Region, All-NCAC and NCAC Pitcher of the Year honors.
However, the Tigers return Linsey Button, Emma Baldwin and Sammi Bell, who were All-Region recipients. Button was an NCAC First Team selection as well as the NCAC Player of the Year. Bell and Liz Getz were also NCAC First Team selections, while Baldwin was named to the second team.
Button led the Tigers with a .421 average, 10 HR and 49 RBI. Returners Getz (.367), Bell (.357), Lauren Godden (.333) and Julia Waggoner all batted above .300 last season. Godden was second on the team with 9 HR and 45 RBI.
Behind Nolan, Baldwin logged the second most innings pitched (140.1) on the mound. She appeared in 35 games, made 17 starts, and finished with a 14-6 record and 2.44 ERA.
The Tigers start the season with a string of eight games in four days from Feb. 18-21. Their first home game is April 2 when they host Hiram to start NCAC play.