UMSL senior outfielder Erin Driskell is one of the softball team's three returning All-GLVC players returning in 2012. The team has been picked by GLVC head coaches to finish first place this year. (Photo by Danny Reise)

In 2011, the University of Missouri–St. Louis softball team captured a Great Lakes Valley Conference crown with a 20-5 league record. The GLVC head coaches recently predicted an encore performance for UMSL in 2012. The league’s 16 head coaches picked UMSL Tritons to win the GLVC West Division this season.

In the vote, UMSL garnered 12 of the first-place tallies and 115 points, while Lewis College (Romeoville, Ill.) also collected 12 first-place votes and 116 points to be tabbed the East Division favorite.

The UMSL Tritons will look to claim the West Division title this season under second-year head coach Brian Levin, who in his first season earned GLVC Coach of the Year honors after directing the Tritons to the regular season GLVC crown with a 20-5 league record. UMSL finished the season 31-20 overall.

Levin returns a trio of all-GLVC performers, including junior designated player Leslie Davis. A second team all-GLVC selection, Davis finished with 41 hits, 33 RBIs and 24 runs, while recording six home runs, three triples and seven doubles. In the circle, she was 9-8 with a.281 ERA in a team-high 104.2 innings of work and struck out 65.

Senior infielder Shannon Beatty was also a second team all-GLVC selection after batting .386 in league-only games with 17 hits and 12 RBIs, while senior outfielder Erin Driskell earned third team accolades. Driskell was fourth on team with a .298 batting average, recording 39 hits and scoring 26 runs. She also led team with 15 stolen bases, the 10th best single season total in program history.

Drury University (Springfield, Mo.) finished second to UMSL in the West Division poll, garnering 105 points and the final four first-place votes, while Missouri University of Science and Technology (Rolla) was third was 79 points. The rest of the West fell as follows: Quincy (Ill.) University (78), Rockhurst University (Kansas City, Mo.) (74), Maryville University (Town and Country, Mo.) (43), University of Illinois Springfield (42) and William Jewell College (Liberty, Mo.) (32).

Lewis, which has won the last two GLVC Championships, edged out the University of Indianapolis for the top spot in the East. UIndy amassed 101 total points with its two first-place votes, while Northern Kentucky University’s (Highland Heights) 98 total points came in third. Bellarmine University (Louisville, Ky.) (76), University of Southern Indiana (Evansville) (66), University of Wisconsin-Parkside (Kenosha) (48), Saint Joseph’s College (Rensselaer, Ind.) (39) and Kentucky Wesleyan College (Owensboro) (24) round out the East rankings in the poll.

The 2012 GLVC softball season will feature 16 teams for the first time as William Jewell enters its first year in the league, although the Cardinals will not be eligible for the conference tournament. In addition, this is the first year the softball teams will play a divisional schedule, with all 16 teams playing each other in a doubleheader and each divisional opponent in a pair of doubleheaders. The top three teams from the East Division, the top two teams from the West Division and three wild card teams will earn a berth to the 2012 GLVC Softball Tournament April 27-29 at EastSide Centre in East Peoria, Ill.

Ryan Heinz

Ryan Heinz