|School||(1st)||Pts.||2011 Overall||2011 NWC|
|Pacific Lutheran University
|George Fox University||16||12-28||6-22|
|University of Puget Sound
|Lewis & Clark College||13||8-31||2-26|
(First-place votes in parenthesis. Points awarded on 8-6-5-4-3-2-1 basis. Coaches cannot vote for their own team.)
Seattle, Wash. - Linfield College, last year's Division III national champion, is the pick to win its ninth consecutive Northwest Conference title according to the preseason poll of NWC coaches.
The Wildcats received seven out of eight first place votes and a total of 56 points in the poll. 2011 NWC Coach of the year Jackson Vaughn returns two first team All-Americans, including the 2011 Diamonds Sports Catcher of the Year for NCAA Division III and NWC Player of the Year senior Emilee Lepp as well as All-NWC senior designated hitter Staci Doucette. Linfield is coming off an historic season with an NCAA-record 51 victories and 103 home runs, plus the program’s second Division III national championship in five seasons.
Pacific Lutheran University is second in the poll with the other first place vote and a total of 44 points. The 2011 NWC Pitcher of the Year senior Stacey Hagensen will lead the Lutes along with the other four First Team All-NWC honorees from last season.
Willamette University is third in the poll with 36 points. Senior Mica Romero, an infielder, was named a First Team All-NWC honoree last season.
Whitworth University edged out Pacific University for fourth place. Whitworth had 29 points, just ahead of the Boxers (28 points). The Pirates graduated their lone All-NWC recipient but returns two Second Team All-NWC honorees including junior Jamie Brunner. The Boxers return their single All-NWC honoree in senior utility player Chelsey Chamberlain.
George Fox University was sixth (16 points) while the University of Puget Sound and Lewis & Clark were tied for seventh (13 points each) in the poll.
The NWC will begin conference play the weekend of February 25-26.