Bears’ Softball ranked 3rd in NJCAA Division II Preseason Poll
2013 NJCAA Championship Runners-up in NJCAA Preseason Top 3 for 8th time in last decade
Phoenix, Arizona – January 28, 2014 -- Phoenix College is proud to announce that the Bears’ Softball team is officially ranked in the NJCAA Softball Division II Preseason Poll. The Bears are ranked 3rd in the poll-just one spot lower than they were ranked at this point last year. It’s the eighth time in the last ten years that the Bears are ranked 3rd or higher to begin the season. The announcement comes just three days before the two-time defending Region I Division II Champions begins the regular season schedule at the CSN Kickoff Classic in Henderson, Nevada, this Friday afternoon.
While most NJCAA Softball programs would be overjoyed at the prospect of opening up the season considered the 3rd-best team in the country, Heinz Mueller will undoubtedly use it instead as motivation for his young charges as he begins his 24th year at the helm of the Bears’ Softball program. Over the past ten years, PC has actually begun the season as the nation’s preseason #1 selection four times, and owned the #2 preseason ranking twice during that same period. They’re also coming off a season that saw them rack up their 12th Region I Division II title since the turn of the millennium, and come within one victory of their 9th NJCAA National title over that same span. Eight members of his 2014 squad will be fully expecting to hear that they’ll need to work to earn more national respect than the current ranking, since Mueller has eight student-athletes from last year’s NJCAA Tournament team that return for this season. That list includes 1st Team All-ACCAC/All-Region I & 2013 NJCAA 1st Team All-American outfielder Rebecca Wyatt, whose 64 stolen bases not only led the country last season but also earned her the prestigious Golden Shoe Award two months ago from the National Fastpitch Softball Coaches Association; All-Region I Division II and 2nd Team All-ACCAC pitcher Kaitlyn Koponen, whose 24 wins, 23 complete games and 185 1/3 innings pitched placed among the NJCAA Top 10 last season; and fellow 2013 All Region I Division II pitcher Cassie Roessing, who not only earned 13 wins while striking out 79 opposing batters on the mound but hit .409 with 17 home runs and 46 runs batted in at the plate last year.
The 3rd-ranked Bears will get some tough tests as they start the season in the Las Vegas area this weekend, since they’ll face a pair of NJCAA Division I Top 10 teams as part of the five-game schedule PC will play over a 24-hour period. They’ll start off the season against 8th-ranked Chipola College from Florida and then Colorado Northwestern Friday evening, then will start off Saturday’s action against 9th-ranked College of Southern Idaho before finishing out the schedule against El Paso (TX) and North Idaho. The Bears will then return home to get ready for their home- and conference-opening doubleheader, which will happen Tuesday afternoon, February 4thagainst the Mesa Thunderbirds. First pitch for the home doubleheader will be 1PM, and all Bears’ home games will be held at the Bears’ Softball Field on the Phoenix College campus (1202 West Thomas Road in Phoenix), and admission prices are as follows: $5 for adults; $3 for students with a valid ID; and kids 12 and under get in FREE.