SIOUX FALLS, S.D. – North Dakota State, the six-time defending Summit League champion, has one again been tabbed as the preseason favorite for the 2020 season after a vote of the leagues seven head coaches in the annual preseason poll.
The Bison, who received six first-place votes, will be vying for their third consecutive, and ninth overall, regular season crown after claiming the 2019 title with a league mark of 16-2.
South Dakota, who finished second in the regular season last year with a league mark of 10-4, was predicted to finish second, while South Dakota State earned one first-place vote and was picked third. North Dakota is ranked fourth, Western Illinois and Purdue Fort Wayne are tied for the fifth spot and Omaha rounded out the poll.
Points for the poll were compiled on a 6-5-4-3-2-1 basis, though each coach was not allowed to vote for its own team.
Summit League teams begin action on Friday, Feb. 7. The 2020 Summit League Softball Championship will take place May 6-9 at the Ellig Sports Complex in Fargo, N.D.
2020 Preseason Poll
|Place||Team (First-Place Votes)||Points||2019 Record|
|1.||North Dakota State (6)||34||42-16, 16-2 SL|
|2.||South Dakota||28||33-28, 12-6 SL|
|3.||South Dakota State (1)||27||37-19, 11-7 SL|
|4.||North Dakota||22||22-34, 7-11 SL|
|5.||Western Illinois||12||20-20, 12-6 SL|
|Purdue Fort Wayne||12||10-39, 3-15 SL|
|7.||Omaha||10||4-43, 2-16 SL|
• A total of 13 all-league selections return (five first-teamers, eight second-teamers) for the 2020 season — North Dakota State and South Dakota each have four on their respective rosters to lead the way.
• South Dakota’s Lauren Eamiguel enters the 2020 season as the league’s top returning hitter. Last season, she posted the third best batting average at .362 and drove in 27 runs
• North Dakota State’s Cara Beatty returns for her junior campaign after posting a .298 batting average and finishing fifth among Summit League players in RBIs (41). She enters the year as the league’s top returning RBI producer
• A season ago, North Dakota State posted the top team ERA of 2.57. League leader KK Leddy graduated but the Bison return Paige Vargas, who owned the league’s fifth-best ERA at 3.01. Last season, Vargas compiled a 17-5 record with 111 strikeouts in 146.1 innings of work in 28 appearances
• South Dakota State’s Paige Gerdes is the only senior for the Jackrabbits as the infielder appeared in 32 games last season, compiling a .265 batting average as a pinch-hitter with nine hits, including three doubles.
• In North Dakota’s debut in The Summit League last season, the Fighting Hawks finished fifth overall with a league mark of 7-11 and an overall record of 22-34. UND brings back all-leaguer Jailene Carpio from the second team as the junior posted a .350 batting average, which was the fourth-highest average last season
• Western Illinois will look to make it five-straight years of ending the regular season in the top three of the rankings. The Leathernecks have finished third in four-straight seasons and finished at .500 (20-20) last season for the first time since the 2010 season.
• Purdue Fort Wayne sophomore Alise Hale will look to have another solid season as the sophomore started all 49 games, recording a .246 batting average on 34 hits and with a team-tying-high 19 walks
• Omaha holds on to Jamie White for her sophomore season after she led the Mavericks in batting average (.263), hits (36), home runs (five) and RBIs (21)
• A few big games to look forward to early in the season are North Dakota State taking on No. 11/T11 LSU (Feb. 20), No. 7/9 Florida (Feb. 14/15), No. 6/6 Texas (Feb. 21) and No. 8/7 Minnesota (March 22); South Dakota taking on No. 5/5 Arizona (March 6) and No. 22/22 Arizona State (March 10); South Dakota State taking on No. 24/20 Arkansas (Feb. 21)
• A rematch of last year’s top returning regular season finishers will take place in Fargo, N.D., April 10-11 between North Dakota State and South Dakota
2020 Summit League Preseason Players to Watch
Jannay Jones // Sophomore // Pitcher // Yuma, Ariz.
• Made 32 appearances with 24 games started
• Owned a team-best 3.74 ERA and recorded three saves
• Threw 14 complete games in 146.2 innings, while striking out 98
Jailene Carpio // Junior // Infield // Phoenix, Ariz.
• 2019 All-Summit League Second Team
• Earned a team-high .350 batting average and .438 on-base percentage
• Started all 37 games for the Fighting Hawks, recording one home run, 17 RBIs and 16 walks
North Dakota State
Paige Vargas // Sophomore // Pitcher // Mission Viejo, Calif.
• 2019 All-Summit League Second Team, All-Tournament Team, Tournament MVP and Freshman of the Year
• Finished season with a 17-5 record and 3.01 ERA including eight shutouts and one save
• Made 28 appearances with 24 games started and 16 complete games, compiling 111 strikeouts in 146.1 innings pitched
Madyson Camacho // Outfield // Senior // Homeland, Calif.
• 2019 All-Summit League First Team and All-Tournament Team
• Started 53 of 54 games for the Mastodons, posting a .331 batting average with 37 runs, 14 stolen bases and 18 RBIs
• Finished the season with 14 walks, four doubles, four sacrifice bunts and three triples
Emma Dargy // Third Base // Senior // La Vista, Neb.
• 2019 Summit League Academic Honor Roll and Commissioner’s List of Academic Excellence
• Started all 47 games for the Mavericks while posting a .254 batting average
• Hit three home runs and drove in 14 runs while drawing a team-leading 21 walks
Jamie White // Infield // Sophomore // Choctaw, Okla.
• Started 46 of 47 games as a freshman
• Finished the season with a .263 batting average, recording 36 hits, five home runs and 21 RBIs
• Recorded a .984 fielding percentage
Purdue Fort Wayne
Morganne Denny // Infield // Junior // Greenfield, Ind.
• Appeared in all 49 games for the Mastodons with 46 starts, leading the team with five home runs and 26 RBIs
• Recorded a .250 batting average, collecting five doubles on the season and a .389 slugging percentage
• Also walked 11 times and scored 13 runs
Abby Baez // Catcher/Outfield // Sophomore // Manhattan, Ill.
• 2019 Summit League All-Tournament Team after recording three hits, including one home run
• Appeared in 45 games, starting 41
• Recorded 23 hits with five doubles, one home run and six RBIs
Alexis Devers // Pitcher // Junior // Peoria, Ariz.
• 2019 Second Team All-Summit League honors, leading the league in appearances (37) and games started (32)
• Posted a 13-15 record inside the circle with a 3.65 ERA and a team-high 90 strikeouts
• Threw four shutouts and combined on another
Camille Fowler // Outfield // Senior // Omaha, Neb.
• Earned All-Summit League honors for the third consecutive season and was a NFCA All-America Scholar Athlete, along with making the Summit League honor roll
• One of three Coyotes who started all 61 games
• At the plate, she posted a .275 batting average, tallied 57 hits, four doubles, three triples and 15 RBIs
South Dakota State
Kendra Conrad // Pitcher // Junior // South Lake Tahoe, Calif.
• 2019 All-Summit League first team and was named to the All-Tournament Team
• Made 29 appearances with 26 in the circle, earning an 18-7 record to log the fourth-most wins in a season in SDSU history
• Compiled a 2.87 ERA, recorded 68 strikeouts, threw 136.2 innings pitched and threw 13 complete games
Peyton Daugherty // Utility // Sophomore // Ankeny, Iowa
• Started all 55 of her appearances as the team’s primary designated player
• Recorded a .264 batting average, recording 43 hits and had six doubles
• Worked 16 walks and swiped 14 bags out of 15 attempts
Jasmine Lara // Outfield // Senior // Bettendorf, Iowa
• 2019 Second Team All-Summit League and Academic All-Summit League honoree
• She started and hit in the leadoff spot in all 40 games while logging a .308 batting average and leading the team with 40 hits and 31 runs scored
• Drove in seven runs with three doubles and one triple while recording 10 multi-hits games
Danielle Olson // Catcher/Infield // Sophomore // Naperville, Ill.
• Started 22 of 26 games played as a freshman, posting a .324 batting average
• Recorded 22 hits, drove in 18 runs while collecting one home run and scoring 14 runs
• Also drew 11 walks and recorded one sacrifice fly