CLEVELAND, OHIO -- The Hiram College softball team was picked to finish second in the 2012 North Coast Athletic Conference preseason coaches poll that was released today (Thursday, Mar. 1). [2012 NCAC Preseason Poll]
Hiram earned 72 points to place second in the poll and received two first-place votes. Conference newcomer DePauw (Ind.) University was selected as the favorite to win the conference finishing with 77 points and six first-place votes. Denison University rounded out the top-three with 64 points and one first-place vote.
The 2011 season was a bench mark in the history of the Hiram College softball program. The Terriers posted a school-record 29 victories, including a second North Coast Athletic Conference Tournament Championship and a second appearance in the NCAA Division III Tournament that saw Hiram advance all the way to the Regional Championship game for the first time in program history.
Hiram has the potential for a repeat performance in 2012 as the Terriers return almost their entire roster from a year ago. Back to lead Hiram will be All-Region players Kristen Cooney (North Lewisburg/Triad), Kelly Langland (Batavia/McNicholas) and Alee Singer (Akron/Dayton).
Langland, a two-time All-Region and All-North Coast Athletic Conference player, started all 43 games and finished third on the team in batting average at .378 (54-of-143). She led the team in triples (five), doubles (17) and was tied for second in homeruns with five. She was also second on the team in runs scored with 35 and third in RBI with 33. Her five triples and 17 doubles led the NCAC, while her 35 runs scored were fourth most, and her 33 RBI ranked fifth.
Singer, a two-time All-NCAC infielder and 2010 All-Region player, was second on the team in batting average in 2011 at .385 (52-of-135). She led the team in RBI (36) and was tied for second in homeruns (five). In addition, Singer was amongst the team leaders in runs (33) and doubles (15). Defensively, she had a .989 fielding percentage with 264 putouts, 13 assists and three errors as the team's starting first baseman.
Cooney started all 43 games and led the team in batting average at .422 (65-of-154). She also led the squad in stolen bases and runs scored with Hiram single-season record marks of 27 and 47 respectively. Her 27 stolen bases this season brings her career mark to 49 which makes her the program's all-time leader in the category. Her 47 runs and 65 hits were tops in the NCAC, while her 27 stolen bases ranked second most. In addition, Cooney recorded two triples, six doubles and 16 RBI this past season. Defensively, Cooney posted an impressive .979 fielding percentage with 41 putouts, six assists and just one error.
Hiram will begin its season with its annual trip to Florida. This year, the Terriers will travel to Kissimmee, Fla. and will play against Albion (Mich.) College on Sunday, Mar. 4 at 9 a.m. in the season opener. Hiram will then face Methodist (N.C.) University at 1 p.m.