CLEVELAND – The Mid-American Conference announced Thursday that The Bowling Green State University Falcons and the Ball State University Cardinals have been tabbed as preseason favorites according 2013 MAC Softball Preseason Coaches' Poll. In addition, the Ball State Cardinals have been predicted to win the 2013 MAC Softball Championship, which is set to take place May 8-11 at Firestone Stadium in Akron, Ohio.
Bowling Green comes into 2013 following finishing second, one game behind Miami, under seventh year head coach, and reigning MAC Coach of the Year, Shannon Salsburg, who looks to improve on their 24 game improvement from two years ago. Salsburg will look to sophomore pitcher Jamie Kertes, the reigning MAC Freshman of the Year and a 2012 All-MAC First Team selection. Rejoining Kertes for the Falcons from the 2012 turn-around will include first teamer Hannah Fulk and All-MAC Freshman team selection Paris Imholz.
Behind the Falcons in the preseason poll were the Ohio Bobcats who nabbed three east division first place votes, followed by Kent State with one, and 2012 MAC Tournament and MAC East champions Miami with one as well. Akron was voted to finish fifth, while Buffalo was picked to round out the east in sixth.
Ball State, who finished the 2012 MAC season with a league best 17-3 mark, has been voted to finish in the top spot again in 2013. Ball State will be managed once again by Craig Nicholson, who has coached Ball State to three regular season championships and the 2010 tournament championship. Nicholson will have the luxury of returning 2012 Player of the Year, Jennifer Gilbert, along with Second Team All-MAC members Audrey Bickel, Hanne Stuedemann and Amanda Carpenter. Stuedemann was also honored in being named to the All-Freshman Team in 2012.
Behind the Cardinals, Central Michigan was picked to finish second in the west receiving two first place votes, with Western Michigan voted third receiving one. Rounding out the rest of the west, Eastern Michigan was voted fourth, Northern Illinois fifth and Toledo sixth.
The 2013 MAC Softball season gets under-way Friday, February 8 when Western Michigan opens in Arizona at the Kajikawa Classic at 6 PM against Oregon.
MAC East (First Place Votes)
1. Bowling Green (7)
2. Ohio (3)
3. Kent State (1)
4. Miami (1)
MAC West (First Place Votes)
1. Ball State (9)
2. Central Michigan (2)
3. Western Michigan (1)
4. Eastern Michigan
5. Northern Illinois
Predicted MAC Tournament Champion: Ball State (6)
(Also receiving votes: Bowling Green, Central Michigan and Ohio)