North Dakota State Selected as #SummitSB Preseason Favorite for the Sixth-Consecutive Year

Photo by Nick Nelson
Photo by Nick Nelson

ELMHURST, Ill. – For the sixth-consecutive year, North Dakota State was named The Summit League preseason softball favorite in a poll of the league's head coaches. The Bison won their fifth-straight tournament title in 2017.

NDSU earned five first-place votes for a total of 25 points. Western Illinois collected 20 points for second place, while third-place South Dakota snagged the remaining first-place vote and 17 points. South Dakota State (14), Omaha (9) and Fort Wayne (5) rounded out the poll.

2018 Summit League Preseason Softball Coaches' Poll



Points (1st)

2017 Record (SL)


North Dakota State

25 (5)

29-33 (11-7)


Western Illinois


22-32 (11-7)


South Dakota

17 (1)

22-32 (10-8)


South Dakota State


19-35 (6-12)




15-30 (6-8)


Fort Wayne


12-36 (4-11)


#SummitSB Preseason Notes

  • North Dakota State retains a sizable core of its roster, including a league-best seven all-league selections from a year ago. Jacquelyn Sertic (P) and Montana DeCamp (SS) return from the first team, while KK Leddy (P), Julia Luciano (3B), Bre Beatty (OF) and Stephanie Soriano (OF) round out the returners from the second team.
  • Sertic, the 2016 Pitcher of the Year, enters her final season of eligibility after pitching a league-low 2.78 ERA and securing a league-best 19 wins in 2017. Last year in the NCAA Norman Regional, the Bison defeated eventual national champion Oklahoma 3-2 with Sertic on the rubber.
  • Western Illinois brings back all-leaguers Emily Ira (P), Kelsey Marlow (3B) and Hailey Duwa (DP).
  • Ira, the league's reigning Pitcher of the Year, returns after leading the way versus league foes in batting average against (.213) and ERA (.240). Ira also recorded a league-best 8.18 strikeouts per game in 2017.
  • Also returning is 2017 Freshman of the Year Camille Fowler from South Dakota. Only the second Coyote to win the award, Fowler batted a team-best .424 in 18 league games with 11 RBI and 14 runs scored.
  • South Dakota additionally keeps all-leaguers Jessica Rogers (C) and Emily Winckler (DP) from the first team.
  • Ali Herdliska (1B) and Brittney Morse (DP) will look to lead the Jackrabbits in the new season.
  • With six freshmen and only three seniors, Omaha hopes to balance youth with experience in a season that features three matchups with Softball Collegiate Top 25 opponents.
  • Fort Wayne holds on to Lauren Watson (2B) for her junior season after she led the Mastodons in batting average (.350), hits (55) and stolen bases (13) last year.

#SummitSB Schedule Notes

  • The 2018 softball season starts Feb. 8 with South Dakota squaring off against Boise St. in Tempe, Ariz. League play begins March 24.
  • A rematch of last year's top returning regular season finishers will take place in Fargo, N.D., May 5-6 between North Dakota State and Western Illinois.
  • Every team will qualify for The Summit League Softball Championship, held in Fargo, N.D., May 9-12.

Players to Watch

Ali Herdliska, South Dakota State – IF, Jr.

    • 2017 Second Team All-Summit
    • Two-time Summit League Player of the Week (3/14 and 4/17)
    • Led team in nearly every offensive category, hitting .338 with 18 doubles, two triples, six home runs and 36 RBI
    • Led conference and ranked among the national leaders in doubles (18)

Emily Ira, Western Illinois – P/OF, Jr.

    • 2017 Summit League Pitcher of the Year, First Team All-Summit
    • Pitcher of the Week four times last year (3/13, 4/3, 4/10 and 4/24)
    • Ranked second in the league in ERA (2.85), batting average against (.234), strikeouts (241) and led in strikeouts per game (8.18)
    • Led all league teams in wins in league play with seven

Kelsey Marlow, Western Illinois – IF, Sr.

    • 2017 First Team All-Summit
    • Recorded a .341 batting average, which ranked fifth in the league last year
    • Ranked third in the league in hits with 59, first in league play with 25
    • Second in the league in stolen bases with 13

Jessica Nelson, Omaha – OF, Sr.

    • Transfer from St. Gregory's University
    • At St. Gregory's: .308 batting average, with 27 runs and 11 stolen bases
    • Started every game last season in the outfield (42 games)
    • Second Team All-Sonner Conference

Jacquelyn Sertic, North Dakota State – P, Sr.

    • 2017 NFCA All-Midwest Region Second Team
    • 2016-2017 All-Summit First Team
    • In 2017, earned the league's Pitcher of the Week award four times, has won the award 10 times overall
    • Starting pitcher in NDSU's 3-2 win over eventual national champion Oklahoma (5/19/17) at the NCAA Norman Regional
    • Led the league in ERA (2.78), shutouts (5), strikeouts (340) and wins (19)

Lauren Watson, Fort Wayne – IF, Jr.

    • 2017 Second Team All-Summit
    • Led team in batting average (.350), hits (55), at bats (157) and stolen bases (13)
    • Ranked second in the league in stolen bases (13) and batting average (.350)

Emily Winckler, South Dakota – IF, Sr.

    • 2017 First Team All-Summit
    • Ranked in the top-10 in eight different offensive categories last year
    • Hit .336 with team-highs of six home runs and 40 RBI
    • Ranked second in the league for on-base percentage (.448)

Note: Players to Watch selected by league's head coaches

Through 35 years of Division I athletics, The Summit League offers 19 championship sports and has a combined enrollment of nearly 100,000 at eight institutions, including three located in top 60 U.S. metro populations and two land-grant universities. Member institutions include: Denver (University of Denver), Fort Wayne (Indiana University-Purdue University-Fort Wayne), North Dakota State University, Omaha (University of Nebraska Omaha), Oral Roberts University, the University of South Dakota, South Dakota State University and Western Illinois University with the University of North Dakota becoming an official member on July 1, 2018. Previously known as the Mid-Continent Conference, The Summit League rebranded in 2007 and has since produced nine NCAA Champions along with over 90 Academic All-Americans, nearly 100 All-America selections and numerous former student-athletes competing at the highest professional level. For more information about the league, visit website, follow The Summit League on Twitter @thesummitleague.