2005 NWC Softball Coaches Poll

School (1st) Pts. 2004 Overall 2004 NWC
Linfield College 6 67 37-9 26-2
Whitworth College 1 55 29-8 21-7
Pacific Lutheran University 1 54 28-10 22-6
Willamette University   34 16-23 12-16
University of Puget Sound   30 15-21 12-16
Pacific University   27 22-18 13-15
Lewis & Clark College   18 8-30 4-24
George Fox University   11 4-32 2-26

(First-place votes in parenthesis. Points awarded on 9-7-6-5-4-3-2-1 basis).

Linfield Picked to Repeat Title

Spokane, Wash. - Linfield College has been picked on six of eight ballots to repeat as Northwest Conference softball champions, after the Wildcats ended PLU's run of five straight titles in 2004. Three returning All-Northwest Conference selections will lead the Wildcats in 2005, including junior infielder Stephanie Morgan, junior outfielder Shelly Steinke and senior catcher Molleigh Keenan. Linfield picked up six out of eight first place votes and 67 poll points. The Wildcats advanced to the NCAA West Region Final last spring before eventually falling to Chapman University.

Whitworth College is second in the poll with 55 points and one first place vote. The Pirates return all eight position starters and both starting pitchers, including All-NWC selection Jo Sonnett, from 2004, when the team set a school record for overall and conference victories in a season.

Pacific Lutheran University, which won 16 out of 17 conference titles between 1987 and 2003, is third in the poll with 54 points and the final first place vote. The Lutes aim to return to the top behind junior Gretchen Ruecker, who was the NWC Player of the Year in 2004 after she led the league with a .525 batting average.

Willamette University, the University of Puget Sound and Pacific University were fourth, fifth and sixth in the poll, respectively, separated by just seven points. The Bearcats, who will be led by sophomore All-NWC outfielder Molly Barnes, picked up 34 points. The Loggers totaled 30 points in the poll, followed by the Boxers with 27 points.

Lewis & Clark College was seventh (18 points) and George Fox University was eighth (11 points).

George Fox kicks off the NWC softball season by hosting Concordia in a double header on February 12th.