|School||(1st)||Pts.||2008 Overall||2008 NWC|
|Pacific Lutheran University||38||21-19||18-10|
|University of Puget Sound||27||11-23||9-16|
|Lewis & Clark College||13||3-34||2-26|
|George Fox University||11||3-29-1||3-25|
(First-place votes in parenthesis. Points awarded on 9-7-6-5-4-3-2-1 basis).
Linfield Favored to Win Sixth Straight NWC Title
Spokane, Wash. - Linfield College is a strong favorite to win the 2009 Northwest Conference softball title, a championship that would be the Wildcats' sixth in a row. The 2009 season will also be a year in change in the NWC as half of the schools will feature new head coaches.
Linfield picked up six first place votes and 68 points in the poll, but Wildcat head coach, and five-time NWC Coach of the Year, Jackson Vaughan has some work to do to replace five starters who all earned first team All-NWC honors last season. The list includes outfielder Stephanie Rice and infielders Amanda Attleberger, Meredith Brunette, Erica Hancock and Jenny Marshall. However, Linfield should be strong in the circle once again as two-time NWC Pitcher of the Year Brittany Miller will be joined by second team All-NWC hurler Kendra Strahm.
Pacific University is second in the poll with 57 points and the remaining two first place votes. The Boxers must overcome the graduation of two-time All-NWC catcher Caitlin Mastenbroek, but welcome back two-time All-NWC starting pitcher Miranda McNealy along with first team All-NWC outfielder Kristen Croxford.
Willamette University is third in the poll with 54 points. Nikki Franchi, the 2008 NWC Player of the Year, returns for her senior season. She led the NWC in hitting last season (.518) and was 19-4 with a 1.85 ERA in the circle. The Bearcats also welcome back All-NWC outfielder Katie Peterson.
Pacific Lutheran University is fourth in the poll with 38 points, followed by Whitworth University with 33 points. The Lutes return first team All-NWC catcher Vanessa Bryant and utility player Rachel Wheeler-Hoyt. Outfielder Lacey Kerr is one of only four returning starters for the Pirates.
The University of Puget Sound is sixth in the poll with 27 points. Infielder Meghan Watson is the leading returnee for the Loggers.
Lewis & Clark College was seventh (13 points) and George Fox University was eighth (11 points).
PLU, Whitworth, UPS and George Fox all feature new head coaches this season.
Pacific Lutheran will kick off the 2009 season with an early-February trip to California. Most of the rest of the NWC begins play with games the week of February 16-21.