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The Lakeland College softball team has been picked to finish in second place in the Northern Athletics Conference for the 2010 season in preseason voting by the conference's head coaches.
Head coach Chad Buchmann returns 10 players from a 2009 squad that ranked first in the nation in slugging percentage (.592) and triples per game (.75), second in doubles per game (2.23), and sixth nationally in batting average (.363). Returners include 2009 NAC player of the year KC Blahnik (Gladstone, Mich.) and first team all-conference selections Sara Roberts (Escanaba, Mich.) and Chelsea Coenen (Wrightstown, Wis.)
Lakeland received 132 points in the polling with one first-place vote. Aurora, 2009 NAC regular season champion, received 150 total points and eight first place votes. This is the fourth straight season Aurora has been tabbed to win the league. Benedictine followed in third place with 124 points just ahead of Dominican, which tallied 122 points and two first place votes. 2009 NAC conference tournament champion Concordia Wisconsin received 116 points and the final two first place votes.
"2010 should be a great year," Lakeland softball coach Chad Buchmann said. "We return a strong batting line up, consistent pitching and have athletic freshmen to push our returners. Having been three outs away from a chance to win the NAC last season, we better understand that the little things in games are what lead to winning championships. Our five strong seniors will lead as they've been the back bone of many successful seasons in the past and they know how to win the close games. We all understand that the goal is to win the conference, make the NCAA tournament and continue the tradition of Muskie Softball."
The Muskies open their 2010 campaign on Sunday, March 14 against Dickinson at the Tucson Invitational Games, playing 10 games during their six day stay.
2010 NAC Softball preseason coaches' poll