by Tom Brown
After winning conference last season, the Benedictine Eagles softball team has been picked to finish in first in the 2012 Northern Athletics Conference preseason coaches’ poll.
“It feels good to be number one,” said sophomore outfielder Kelly Mieszala. “It’s a good feeling knowing that the hard work we are putting is getting recognized and worth it.”
The Eagles, who finished the 2011 season with a 22-2 record in conference play, received 166 total points and 10 out of 13 first place votes, just ahead of second place Aurora, who finished with 156 points.
Last season was a great season for the Eagles, as they ended Aurora’s streak of three straight conference championships. The Eagles not only won the NAC regular season and postseason titles: they earned a spot in the NCAA tournament.
With all their success last year, the Eagles are a target for the rest of the conference this season.
“I think its more of a confidence booster,” said Mieszala when asked about other teams gunning for them. “We know what we are capable of doing, and other schools can see our talent.”
That talent is high on display, as BenU returns as the conference leader in both batting and pitching. Before the Eagles can defend their NAC title however, they will travel to Florida for their annual spring break trip.
“Florida is huge for us as a team. Our Florida trip helps us with many areas,” said senior shortstop Brittnay Wolski. “First and foremost, it brings us together and allows us to have 10 solid days of bonding that ultimately prepares us for what’s to come on and off the field.”
After Florida, the Eagles begin their quest for a second straight NAC title with a doubleheader at rival Aurora on Mar. 28 at 3 P.M.