The Blinn College softball team will enter the 2013 season with the highest preseason ranking in program history.
The Buccaneers, who placed fifth at last season's NJCAA National Championships in St. George, Utah, were ranked second in the NJCAA preseason poll released today. Blinn went 51-10 last season on its way to the Region XIV Conference championship.
The Buccaneers saw four players earn NJCAA and National Fastpitch Coaches Association (NFCA) All-America honors in 2012, and Blinn's coaching staff was recognized as the NFCA's NJCAA Division I Regional Coaching Staff of the Year for the fourth consecutive season.
This year's squad returns six sophomores, including All-American infielder Kristina Davila, in its quest for an unprecedented fifth consecutive appearance at the national tournament. Pitcher/first baseman Caitie Carney, catcher/first baseman Shelbe Sterling, shortstop Kristina Riley and outfielders Christa Hartnett and Tiffani McKnight also return from last season's team.
"That's our whole goal, is to make it five straight trips to nationals," said head coach Rick Church, who is entering his 14th season in Buccaneer blue. "Every year it gets tougher, but our goals never change. People want to see that Blinn uniform at nationals. There just might be some different people in them."
Salt Lake (Utah) Community College was ranked No. 1 after finishing second at last season's national tournament. Wallace State (Ala.) Community College-Hanceville enters the season ranked No. 3.
The Buccaneers' season opens Feb. 1 at the Galveston College Invitational. The Buccaneers will face Kilgore College, Seminole State College and McLennan Community College on the first day of the tournament.