Wartburg College, the defending Iowa Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (IIAC) softball Champion and one of four IIAC schools to qualify for the NCAA Tournament, is the coaches' pick to repeat as the 2007 IIAC Softball Champions.
The Knights received five of nine first-place votes and a total of 69 points to edge Coe College, another NCAA qualifier that advanced to the national tournament.
The Kohawks received three first-place votes and 66 points. Central College, coming off its 20th NCAA Tournament appearance in the last 21 years, received the final first place vote and is third in the IIAC Coaches' Poll with 56 points.
Luther College (56 points) and Simpson College (50 points), the IIAC's fourth NCAA qualifier last year, round out the top-5.
The complete 2007 IIAC softball Coaches' Poll follows. Followng the number each team is ranked is that squad's record form last year.
1. Wartburg, 40-7, 14-2 IIAC
2 Coe, 41-13, 13-3 IIAC
3 Central, 33-13, 12-4 IIAC
4 Luther. 29-12, 9-7 IIAC
5 Simpson, 29-14, 11-5 IIAC
6 Buena Vista 14-20, 7-9
7. Loras, 4-12 IIAC
8 Cornell, 7-24, 1-15 IIAC
9 Dubuque, 8-32, 1-15 IIAC
National Rankings: Three Iowa Conference schools are ranked in the National Fastpitch Coaches Association (NFCA) Preseason Poll.
Wartburg is ranked seventh, Coe is 22nd and Central is 25th.
Wartburg finished 2006 ranked 8th by the NFCA and Coe was 6th in the final NFCA poll.
Conference Tournament: The Second Annual Iowa Conference softball Tournament will be played May 3-5, at Rogers Sports Complex in Fort Dodge, Iowa. Central College will serve as the host.
New Coaches: Cornell College, the University of Dubuque and Loras College each have new head coaches. Shanda Ness replaces interim coach Kevin Kahler at Cornell, Corey Parr replaces Elisha Perkins at Dubuque and Katie Koopmann replaces Sarah Anderson at Loras.
Ness led Gustavus Adolphus College to five straight 20-plus win seasons, a Conference Championship, and 164 wins in eight seasons as head coach.
Parr spent the last three seasons as an assistant coach for the Spartan baseball team. Koopmann was an assistant coach at her alma mater for the last three years following an AllConference playing career with the Duhawks.
Team-By-Team Preview: A brief preview for each Iowa Conference team follows.
Buena Vista University Beavers: 2006 Record: 14-20 overall, 7-9 IIAC (6th).
Starting Position Players Returning/Lost: 3/6 Pitchers Returning/Lost: 1/2
Players to Watch Brandi Sykora, Jr., P - A two-time All-Conference performer, Sykora went 8-9 last season with a 2.15 ERA in 19 games. She threw 15 complete games (in 17 starts) and four shutouts, struck out 80 batters and held opponents to a .256 average. She ranked eighth in the IIAC in strikeouts, ninth in ERA and opponents' batting average, 11th in wins (tied) and innings pitched (110.2).
Ashley Partlow, Sr., C - Partlow hit .272 with a home run and 19 RBI last season. She slugged .340 and reached base at a .292 clip. She threw out seven would-be base stealers, seventh-most in the IIAC.
Lesley Salton, Sr., 3B - Salton struggled through a .105 season in 23 games last year but hopes to get back to her 2004 All-Conference form when she hit .294.
Amy Kamies, Sr., OF - Kamies saw action in just 17 games last season and hit .125. Quote from head coach Marge Willadsen "We will be a very young but hardworking team who will rely on leadership from our three seniors. The Conference race should be wide open this year."