The Butler softball team is ranked sixth nationally in the NJCAA Division I preseason poll, tied the highest preseason ranking in program history.
Butler was also ranked sixth in the preseason poll in 2014 and have been ranked in the top 10 in each of the past three seasons after being ranked 10th to start the season a year ago. Butler was also ranked eighth in the 2008 preseason poll. The Grizzlies have been in the preseason poll for five straight seasons and nine times in the past 10 years.
The Grizzlies open the season this Saturday with games in Gainesville, TX against Northeast Texas and North Central Texas. Butler returns seven starters from 2015, including three first-team All-KJCCC selections - pitchers Jennifer Hittinger (16-6, 1.47 ERA, 92 K), Kaelah McMullin (16-9, 3.19 ERA, 109 K) and outfielder Megan Wurts (.431 avg., 8 HRs, 57 RBI, 43 SB). Also returning are first baseman/pitcher Gracie Bogle (.306, 5 HRs, 24 RBI) and catcher Morgan Heckart (.345, 3 HRs, 39 RBI), both who earned second-team All-conference honors.
Butler is coming off its fifth consecutive Jayhawk Conference title, as the Grizzlies set a program record with 20 conference victories a year ago. Overall, Butler was 34-15. The Grizzlies have won 30 or more games in 10 of the past 11 seasons, including a 54-4 record and a No. 1 national ranking in 2013. Butler has won eight league titles in the past 10 years.
|2016 NJCAA PRESEASON TOP 20 SOFTBALL POLL|
|Jan. 27, 2016|
|5.||Salt Lake, UT||48-9|
|9.||Northeastern Oklahoma A&M||50-16
|12.||Wallace State, AL||62-14|
|13.||Miami Dade, FL||34-21|
|14.||Seminole State, OK||48-11|
|16.||Seminole State, FL||51-9|
|17.||Spartanburg Methodist, SC||36-10|
|19.||Wabash Valley, IL||39-13|
Other schools receiving votes: Lake Land, IL (53-10); Navarro, TX (39-24); Shelton State, AL (32-26); Walters State, TN (39-10); Western Nebraska (56-14).
|BUTLER'S PRESEASON RANKINGS SINCE 2007|