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Sierra Athow of Midland watches her ground ball go into right field for a hit during a Great Plains Athletic Conference Tournament game last season. Athow earned All-GPAC second-team honors at shortstop in 2018. 

Great Plains Athletic Conference softball coaches have picked Midland University to win the 2019 league title.

In a preseason poll released Thursday, MU is first followed by league newcomer Jamestown. Points were awarded on an 11-1 basis and coaches could not vote for their own team.

The Lady Warriors, coached by Mike Heard, finished 36-17 last season while posting a 16-4 league record. MU shared the regular season championship with Morningside, who finished 29-13 overall, including 16-4 in league play. Northwestern won the GPAC tournament title last by defeating the Lady Warriors in three games.

The Lady Warriors, who return 2018 GPAC Pitcher of the Year Jaylee Hinrichs, received 119 points and nine first-place votes. Jamestown was second with 104 points and two first-place votes. The Jimmies were the North Star Athletic Association regular-season champion, compiling a 44-10 record, including 22-3 in league play.

Midland beat the Jimmies in the NAIA National Championship Opening Round in Dodge City, Kansas.

The Mustangs were third with 97 points and one first-place vote. Northwestern is fourth with 88 while Concordia is fifth with 71.

The Lady Warriors will open their season Feb. 22 against Oklahoma City University in the Evangel Tournament in Springfield, Missouri.

Heard, who was named the GPAC Coach of the Year last season, also returns All-league selections in outfielder Andrea Cespedes, catcher Katlin Anders and Bobbi Singleton, who was named as the designated player. Shortstop Sierra Athow was a second-team selection.

GPAC Poll

1. Midland 119, 2. Jamestown 104, 3. Morningside 97, 4. Northwestern 88, 5. Concordia 71, 6. (tie) Doane 66 and Dordt 66, 8. Dakota Wesleyan 57, 9. Mount Marty 47, 10. Hastings 37, 11. College of Saint Marty 27, 12. Briar Cliff 13.

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