Illinois State has been tabbed the favorite to win the Missouri Valley Conference softball championship in a poll of league coaches.
The Redbirds, who were league regular-season co-champions last year, earned 88 points with two first-place votes. Southern Illinois had 87 points and Northern Iowa 86.
Returning first-team all-conference selections Shannon Felde, Sarah Finck, Riley Hale and Allison Spence represent the Redbirds on the league’s preseason all-conference team.
Baseball voted fifth: The ISU baseball team was picked to finish fifth in the preseason poll of Missouri Valley Conference coaches.
Dallas Baptist, last year's MVC Tournament champion, was tabbed the league favorite, receiving seven of eight first-place votes.
The Patriots had 63 points, six more than second-place pick Missouri State. Indiana State (42 points) was third, Southern Illinois fourth (35) and the Redbirds fifth (31) in the eight-team league.
Redbird junior shortstop Owen Miller was among the 15 players on the preseason All-MVC squad. ISU returns all nine position starters and most of its pitchers from last year's MVC Tournament runner-up team.
Signing Day event: Illinois State football coach Brock Spack and his staff will publicly announce the 2018 Redbird recruiting class at a National Signing Day party Feb. 7 inside the Hancock Stadium Club.
The event is free and open to the public. Light snacks and a cash bar will be provided, and parking will be made available in lots adjacent to Hancock Stadium.
The annual event begins at 6 p.m. with a short meet-and-greet session with the coaching staff before Spack provides commentary and recruiting insight on the Redbird prospects.
CCIW honors Williams: Illinois Wesleyan’s Shante Williams has been selected as a College Conference of Illinois and Wisconsin women’s track & field Athlete of the Week.
Williams, a senior, finished second in the triple jump during IWU’s Top Times Titan Open on Saturday. She finished with a distance of 37 feet, 10¾ inches, which ranks first in the CCIW and fourth on the NCAA Division III national list.
Webster stops Red Devil women: Samantha Sarnes scored 22 points in a losing cause as Webster prevailed in the St. Louis Intercollegiate Athletic Conference game at St. Louis.
Hayley Reneau added 19 points and Lexi Dooley chipped in 12 points and 14 rebounds for Eureka College (14-6, 10-2).
Taylor Lucas' 21 points, five steals and four blocks paced Webster (14-5, 8-3).