TYLER – The UT Tyler softball team is picked to win the American Southwest Conference after receiving 23 of 26 first-place votes from the league’s head coaches and sports information directors. Additionally, Andrea Gonzales, Hannah Moore and Colleen Bentke were identified as ASC Players to Watch in the conference’s preseason release.
UT Tyler is coming off a season where it went 46-6 overall, 29-2 in ASC play and advanced to the NCAA Division III National Championships for the third straight season. The Patriots won the ASC regular-season title for the fourth straight season last year before finishing third at the NCAA DIII national tournament after winning the Tyler Regional and Tyler Super Regional to advance to Oklahoma City. In this year’s poll, UT Dallas is picked second with one first-place vote followed by East Texas Baptist, UMHB, Louisiana College, Concordia, Hardin-Simmons, Belhaven, LeTourneau, Sul Ross, Howard Payne, McMurry and Ozarks.
“This poll is a reflection of last year’s team and our program’s tradition,” UT Tyler head coach Mike Reed said. “This conference has never had more balance which will make this season highly competitive. I am truly most excited to see this 2018 team continue to work to learn who we are as a team and what our new formula for success will be.”
UT Tyler began practice on Monday to start the 14th season in program history and will open the year with a road doubleheader on Feb. 14 against Southwestern in Georgetown. The Patriots will then travel to Abilene to play McMurry in a three-game ASC series from Feb. 16-17 before opening their home schedule against Concordia on Feb. 23-24 at Suddenlink Field. UT Tyler will host ASC series against CTX, Sul Ross, Louisiana College, ETBU and Ozarks and will travel to play Mary Hardin-Baylor, Belhaven, Howard Payne, UT Dallas and LeTourneau.
Gonzales and Moore are returners for the Patriots, while Bentke is a pitcher who transfers in from Blinn College. The three ASC Watch List Players were identified by Reed and his staff and are on a list that includes 23 players who are returning all-conference selections. Gonzales earned All-ASC honors last season for the Patriots after hitting .407 with 59 totals hits and 41 RBI. A senior from Elgin, Gonzales had 16 doubles and one home run in 2017. Moore returns after a junior season where she hit .308 with 12 doubles, two triples, four home runs and drove in 35 runs. A shortstop from Cy Fair, Moore had a .975 fielding percentage with only three errors and 62 putouts for the Patriots. Bentke is a pitcher from Brenham who earned second-team All-American honors last year at Blinn College where she was also a first-team all-conference and Region IX first-team selection.
“We have so many new faces and returning only three starters from last season, that we know we will need everyone’s contributions along with these three to reach our potential,” Reed said. “These three represent a team who believes in the UT Tyler way. The team as a whole from returners to new players, are excited to continue the hard-working tradition that drives this program.”
SOURCE: Texas-Tyler Athletics Press Release