Jan. 26—BURNSVILLE — The Bemidji State softball team was picked to finish 12th in the NSIC with Wednesday's release of the league's Preseason Coaches' Poll. Additionally, Elaina Christiansen and Kaidron McClafferty were tabbed as BSU's Players to Watch.
The Beavers garnered 62 votes for the poll, landing 12th among 16 teams. Augustana secured 15 first-place votes to top the poll with 225 votes, while Minnesota State was second with 209 points and the final first-place vote.
Winona State (198), Minnesota Duluth (176) and St. Cloud State (162) rounded out the top five.
Upper Iowa finished one spot ahead of Bemidji State with 83 points, while U-Mary trailed BSU with 58 points.
Christiansen was named the Beavers' Position Player to Watch after hitting .221 last season. In three years with Bemidji State, she has a career .298 batting average and is eighth all-time at BSU with 12 home runs.
McClafferty is the team's Pitcher to Watch after recording a 4.53 ERA over 51 innings last spring. She had three complete games and 21 strikeouts.
The Beavers finished 11-31 last year and placed 13th in the NSIC with a 7-21 conference record. They're now under the direction of first-year head coach Jordan Petersen, who previously served as an assistant at Minnesota State Moorhead and Northern State.
"I am excited about this year's team," Petersen said in a press release. "They are an amazing group who work hard and have already started to change the culture of Bemidji softball into something great. I love their coachability and how they take care of one another both on and off the field."
Augustana's Mary Pardo was named the Preseason Player of the Year, while Minnesota State's Mackenzie Ward was named the Preseason Pitcher of the Year.
BSU begins the season with the Husky Dome Invite on Feb. 11-13 in St. Cloud.