MADISON, S.D. -- The Bellevue University softball team was picked to finish second in the North Star Athletic Association regular season in a vote by league coaches announced today.
The Bruins return seven starters and 12 letterwinners from last season's squad that won the NSAA regular-season crown and finished second in the NSAA Tournament. Bellevue finished the 2017 season with a 50-16 overall record and a 20-6 mark in the NSAA, advancing to the NAIA National Tournament for the ninth time in school history.
Last year's NSAA Tournament champion Jamestown was picked to win the 2018 NSAA regular-season title.
Jamestown defeated Bellevue 2-1 in last season North Star Softball Postseason Conference Tournament's winner-take-all championship game in Dickinson, N.D. Both teams advanced to the NAIA Softball National Tournament Opening Round.
Valley City State (N.D.) finished third in the coaches' poll with 61 points, followed by Dickinson State (N.D.) fourth with 52 points and Mayville State (N.D.) fifth with 43 points. Viterbo (Wis.) was picked to finish sixth with 37 points, while Waldorf (Iowa) placed seventh in the poll with 25 points. Dakota State (S.D.) edged out Presentation (S.D.) 17-15 to finish eighth.
The North Star conference games officially start from Feb. 23-25 as nine teams come to Aberdeen, S.D. They will play in the 'NSAA Cross-Over Classic' held at the Presentation Dome.
The NSAA conference will be in full swing on the weekend of March 23-25. Valley City State travels to Presentation on March 25, with VCSU playing Waldorf in Aberdeen on March 26 and rounds up the weekend with the Warriors playing the host-team Saints. Also, Bellevue will be in Jamestown; Mayville State visits Dakota State and Viterbo hosts Dickinson State in the first NSAA four-game series on March 24-25.
The North Star Athletic Association Softball Conference Tournament will be hosted by Presentation on May 4-6 (if necessary game will be played on May 7) at Players Softball Complex in Aberdeen.
There is one automatic bid to the NAIA Softball National Tournament Opening round, with 10 different sites with four teams each competing in a double-elimination tournament on May 14-16. The winner of the postseason conference tournament will earn the automatic bid to the national tournament.
The NAIA Softball World Series take place in Clermont, Fla. on May 25-31.
Below is the complete 2018 NSAA Softball Coaches' Preseason Poll:
1) Jamestown (N.D.) (8) – 80
2) Bellevue (Neb.) (1) – 73
3) Valley City State (N.D.) – 61
4) Dickinson State (N.D.) – 52
5) Mayville State (N.D.) – 43
6) Viterbo (Wis.) – 37
7) Waldorf (Iowa) – 25
8) Dakota State (S.D.) – 17
9) Presentation (S.D.) – 15