Jan. 24, 2008
Butler, coming off its best season in a decade and a half, has been picked sixth in the annual Horizon League preseason softball poll. Defending regular season champ Loyola was tabbed as the team to beat in the poll of league softball coaches.
Loyola received five first place votes and 60 total points from the nine league coaches. The League's other Chicago entrant, UIC, was picked second in the poll with two first place votes and 53 total points. The two remaining first place votes went to defending Horizon League Tournament Champ Wright State, and the Raiders were picked third with 50 points.
Cleveland State received 41 points and was picked fourth, followed by Valparaiso (35), Butler (34), Youngstown State (22), Green Bay (18) and Detroit (11).
Butler head coach Jeanne Rayman, entering her second season, returns 13 letterwinners from last year's team, which tied the school record for wins with a 26-24 final mark. The Bulldogs finished sixth in the Horizon League regular season standings last year and then placed fourth in the Horizon League Tournament. The 26-24 record marked Butler's first winning season since 1991.
Rayman has seven returning starters in the field and three of her top four pitchers from last year. Among the returnees are leading hitter Amy Hyerczyk (.375), Butler's all-time home run leader Jenny Jacobs and pitcher Nikki Naffziger, who led the team in strikeouts in 2007.
Butler opens the 2008 season at the Georgia Softball Classic, Feb. 29-March 2.