Friends unanimous no. 1 pick in KCAC Softball Preseason Coaches’ Poll

Friends University Clock Tower (KSN File Photo)

WICHITA, Kansas – The Friends University softball team was unanimously selected as the No. 1 team in the KCAC Softball Coaches’ Poll, the conference office announced Thursday. The Falcons took home the 2015 KCAC regular season title with a 15-3 conference record and a 30-20 overall record.

Friends fell to Southwestern, 7-5, in 10 innings in game one of the KCAC Conference Championship last season, before falling to Bethany, 9-3, the following day in the consolation bracket. Despite the losses, the Falcons went on to compete in the NAIA Softball Championship, falling to No. 10 Mobile, 4-1, and Doane, 2-0, in the opening round.

For the first time since 2012, Friends landed two student-athletes on the NFCA All-Region team, including Khadijah Bland (first team) and Laykyn Lindsay (second team). Bland was the Kansas Collegiate Athletic Conferene Player of the Year for 2015 after leading the conference in batting average, slugging, on base percentage, and home runs. She was second in runs batted in and fourth in total bases. Lindsay was second in the KCAC in triples, fifth in runs scored, sixth in hits, ninth in doubles, 13th in total bases, 15th in on base percentage, 16th in stolen bases, and 19th in slugging. She was a First Team All-Conference selection.

Ottawa was selected No. 2 and received one first place vote in the preseason poll. The Braves fell to Sterling, 6-5, in the first game of the KCAC Softball Championship, but recovered with a win over Saint Mary (2-1) in game two. Ottawa would then fall to Southwestern, 2-1, in the third game to end its season with a 28-18 overall record and 14-4 KCAC record.

The Braves landed seven student-athletes on the All-KCAC teams, including first team selections, Elisa Valenzuela and Gabby Markham. Valenzuela led the KCAC with a 0.444 batting average, second in on base percentage (0.516), tied for third in runs batted in (48), and fifth in home runs (11). Markham was also named the KCAC co-pitcher of the year, finishing the season with a 3.25 ERA in 116.1 innings pitched. Markham was fourth in the KCAC in opposing batting average (0.258), and fourth in batters struck out per game (5.30).

Tabor was picked third in the coaches’ poll after a 26-25 overall and 12-7 conference record in the 2014-15 season. The Bluejays defeated Southwestern, 4-0, in game one of the KCAC Softball Championship but fell to Kansas Wesleyan, 7-0, in game two before being defeated by Bethany, 4-0, in the elimination game. Tabor landed four student-athletes on All-KCAC teams including: Marilee Burge (first team), Araselly Vargas (first team), Sara Vela (second team), and Kellyn Holt (second team).

Institution Points First Place Votes
1. Friends 143 11
2. Ottawa 129 1
3. Tabor 102
3. Saint Mary 102
5. Oklahoma Wesleyan 97
6. Bethany 89
7. Kansas Wesleyan 88
8. Sterling 60
9. York 48
10. Southwestern 42
11. McPherson 27
12. Bethel 17

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