INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – The Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference (HCAC) unveiled the 2019 pre-season coach's poll on Thursday (Feb. 7) afternoon. Franklin College has been picked by the league's nine coaches to finish third in the standings.
Coming off a season full of firsts, the Grizzlies picked up 66 points in the poll to finish just behind Mount St. Joseph and pre-season favorite Transylvania. The 2018 iteration of the Grizzlies finished 30-12, the program's first ever 30-win campaign, and advanced to the NCAA Regional for the first time after winning the program's first HCAC tournament. The Grizzlies knocked off the two teams in front of them on the final day of the tournament to punch their ticket to the regional.
Five Grizzlies were named to the league's list of 'Players to Watch' for the 2019 campaign. Seniors Monica Collins, Shelby Mager and Justice Carmichael are joined by junior pitcher Kayla Selzer and sophomore catcher Natalie Weber on a list that features the best players in the league.
Collins is coming off a breakout junior campaign that saw her bat .417 with one home run and 30 RBI while finishing with a team-high 55 hits and tying for the team lead with 33 runs scored. The Whiteland, Ind.-native was at her very best in the conference tournament, picking up HCAC Tournament MVP honors to go along with a Second Team All-HCAC selection.
Carmichael turned in a strong debut season in 2018, batting .341 with a pair of home runs, 20 RBI, 33 runs scored and a perfect fielding percentage on her way to a First Team All-HCAC selection. Mager was another mainstay in the Franklin lineup a year ago, batting .289 with one home run, 19 RBI and 29 runs scored why starting 41 games at second base and recording a .965 fielding percentage.
Weber was a major shot in the arm for the Franklin offense a year ago, finishing fourth on the team with a .387 average and a pair of home runs to go along with 45 RBI, which tied her for the team lead. The Shelbyville, Ind.-native scored 23 times, ripped 12 doubles and finished with a team-high three triples while catching 41 games. Weber was a Second Team All-HCAC selection one year ago.
Her battery-mate and the team's top returning pitcher, Selzer is coming off a 2018 season that saw her earn Second Team All-HCAC accolades. The Indianapolis, Ind.-native went 11-7 with a 2.48 ERA and 60 strikeouts over 101.2 innings. Selzer tossed a gem in the HCAC championship game, holding Transylvania to just four hits in Franklin's 1-0 win over the Pioneers, earning a spot on the league's All-Tournament team.
Franklin opens the 2019 season on Saturday, Feb. 23, traveling to Maryville, Tenn. to take on Birmingham Southern and Maryville. First pitch of the opening game comes at 10:00 a.m.