|School||(1st)||Pts.||'01 Overall||'01 NWC|
|Pacific Lutheran University||8||72||26-10||16-2|
|University of Puget Sound||49||21-12-1||11-8-1|
|George Fox University||33||16-14-2||12-9|
|Lewis & Clark College||21||22-18-1||11-10|
(First-place votes in parenthesis. Points awarded on 9-7-6-5-4-3-2-1 basis).
Pacific Lutheran Unanimous Choice to Win
Spokane, Wash. - Pacific Lutheran University is a unanimous choice to win its fourth straight Northwest Conference softball title and the Lutes' 15th in the last 16 years. Five returning All-Northwest Conference selections will lead PLU in 2002, including senior pitcher Melissa Korb (10-4, 1.70 ERA), senior catcher Shannon Fritzke (.397, 6 HR, 30 rbi's) and junior infielder Jenny Ferries (.339, 32 rbi's). PLU picked up all eight first place votes and 72 poll points. The Lutes finished 26-10 overall last season and 16-2 in the NWC before losing to Central College (IA) in the NCAA regional championship.
The University of Puget Sound, Willamette University and Linfield College were tightly bunched in second through fourth place in the poll. UPS was a narrow choice for second with 49 poll points. The Loggers (21-12 overall, 11-8-1 NWC in 2001) return senior infielder Heather Lovejoy (.375, 13 doubles, 33 rbi's). Willamette is expected to bounce back from a disappointing 2001 season in which the Bearcats finished 16-19, 9-11. Sophomore infielder Marcie Hagen (.343, 10 doubles, 19 rbi's) led the Bearcats in 2001. Linfield, which was NWC runner up last year (24-17, 14-7), was right behind Willamette with 44 poll points. Senior infielder Gretchen Renier (.371, 11 doubles, 28 rbi's) returns to lead the Wildcats this spring.
George Fox University, one of the surprises of 2001, was picked to finish fifth in 2002 with 33 poll points. The Bruins (16-14-2 overall, 11-8-1 NWC) will be led by junior pitcher Laura Steenson (15-10, 1.56 ERA).
Lewis & Clark College, Whitworth College and Pacific University round out the final three places in the poll. L&C picked up 21 points and finished sixth, while Whitworth had 18 points (7th) and Pacific totaled 14 points.
Lewis & Clark kicks off the NWC softball season by hosting Eastern Oregon in a double header on February 23rd.