The Texas Lutheran softball program has captured the Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference regular season and tournament championships each of the past four seasons.
(Seguin) – After a vote of the Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference softball coaches, Texas Lutheran University is the unanimous favorite to win its fifth consecutive Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference Championship.
The Bulldogs, coming off a 38-6 overall record and a 22-0 conference mark, welcome back 17 letter-winners, including five positions starters and pitching All-American and national record-holder Maitlin Raycroft.
The Bulldogs received all seven first-place votes in the coaches' poll.
Led by seventh-year head coach Wade Wilson, the Bulldogs have won SCAC regular-season and conference-tournament titles in each of the four seasons the team has been a member of the SCAC.
In six years with the Bulldogs, Wilson has amassed a 203-55 overall record (.787 win percentage) and an 89-2 mark (.978) in the SCAC. He has won more than 580 games (counting his TLU victories and his high school wins). In his total head softball coaching career (high school and college), Wilson has a combined record of 586-126-6 (a winning percentage of .820).
In 2017, the Bulldogs produced a 38-game win streak during the year. TLU stormed to the SCAC regular-season title and the SCAC tournament championship and finished as the NCAA Division III Tyler Regional runner-up for the third time in four years.
The Bulldogs were ranked as high as No. 5 in the NFCA softball poll for NCAA DIII. TLU finished the year at No. 10 in the final NFCA poll of the year.
Raycroft set the new NCAA DIII record for no-hitters in a season, with eight during the 2017 season. She finished just one no-hitter off the all-time collegiate record for no-hitters in a season.
Raycroft was named a Second Team All-American by the NFCA and a First Team All-American by the FastPitch News. Raycroft was the SCAC Pitcher and Newcomer of the Year. FastPitch News tabbed her as a Preseason All-American for 2018.
The TLU Female Student-Athlete of the Year, Raycroft finished the year at 21-3 (new school record for wins) and with a school-record 219 strikeouts in 140-2/3 innings. She walked only 28, and opponents hit just .128 against her. Her final ERA was 1.29.
Raycroft was one of five Bulldogs to pick up All-Region awards from the NFCA. Former center fielder Kaymee Gooden and current third baseman Kyla Lockley were named to the All-Region Second Team, and former pitcher Amanda Lochte and former utility player Kirsten Whiteside were At-Large selections to the All-Region Third Team. Gooden, Lochte and Whiteside completed their playing eligibility.
The Bulldogs of 2017 led the nation in steals per game, at 4.39. The 193 steals last season were a new school record. TLU stole 193 bases in 213 attempts.
Conference-tournament and regular-season runner-up Southwestern (27-13, 18-4) was the No. 2 pick in the preseason poll. The Bulldogs defeated the Pirates in the tournament final 3-0 a year ago. TLU hosted the 2017 tournament. Southwestern will host the 2018 tournament. After bringing in 14 first-year players in 2017, the Pirates will have a lot more experience on the team, returning seven All-SCAC selections.
Schreiner University, the coaches' third selection, is coming off a 23-21 campaign (12-12 in the SCAC). Entering her fourth season at the helm of the program, head coach Amy Meyer returns the majority of her roster from a year ago, and, along with the addition of nine freshmen, the Mountaineers hope to continue their upward trend. The team's 23 wins were the most for Schreiner since the 2009 season, and were more than the previous two years combined.
Trinity University (17-28 overall; 6-18 SCAC) enters the 2018 campaign as the coaches' fourth choice. After entering the 2017 tournament as the sixth-seed, Trinity came one game short of heading to the SCAC title game for the seventh year in a row. The Tigers will feature a lot of new faces, with nine first-years making up nearly half of the 2018 roster.
Coming in at the fifth slot in the coaches' predicted order of finish rankings is Centenary College. During his second year as head coach, Mark Suire led the Ladies to a 15-25 overall record, while going 12-12 in SCAC play and earning the third seed for the tournament. The 2017 campaign marked the team's best SCAC regular season finish in school history. The team will return the majority of its 2017 roster, while adding eight first-year players and a pair of transfers. The team will return five of its six 2017 All-SCAC honorees.
The University of Dallas was slated for a sixth-place finish a season after putting up a 14-28 overall mark, 9-15 in the SCAC and a fifth-place finish during the conference tournament. Head Coach Elizabeth Krysiak enters her fifth season at the helm of the Crusaders. The team is full of young players, with freshmen and sophomores combining to make up 14-of-18 spots on the roster.
Austin College is slated to finish seventh after posting an 8-32 overall mark (3-21 in the SCAC) a season ago. Head coach Kathleen Laster is in her second year with the 'Roo program. The team brings in five freshmen to accent the experienced roster. The team returns three of the five players with pitching experience.