Luke Bolanos, Director of Athletic Communications
LOUISVILLE, Ky. – After coming just seven innings shy of the program’s first-ever trip to the NCAA Division II Women’s College World Series, the Lincoln Memorial University softball team closes out its historic 2021 campaign No. 10 in the nation with the season’s final National Fastpitch Coaches Association (NFCA) Division II Top 25 Coaches Poll announced Wednesday morning. The No. 10 national ranking marks the highest season-end ranking for the Lady Railsplitters in school history.
LMU posted 38 victories for the second time in three seasons this spring, which tied for the most in any year in program history, en route to its second-straight Division II Southeast Regional finals appearance. Capturing their second consecutive South Atlantic Conference regular season title, the Lady Railsplitters went an impressive 38-8 to set the single-season school record for winning percentage (.826).
Nearly sweeping the league’s annual individual superlatives, LMU fourth-year skipper Ritchie Richardson was tabbed 2021 SAC Coach of the Year while graduate second baseman Ty-Kella Goins was christened SAC Player of the Year and sophomore righty Emma Frost SAC Pitcher of the Year. Winning the conference by four games, the Lady Railsplitters notched a 20-4 record in league play and swept nine SAC doubleheaders. For their heroics on the field, both Goins and senior designated player Audrey Petoskey were named All-America honorable mention by the Division II Conference Commissioners Association (D2CCA) after the two were joined by Frost and junior shortstop Sierra Hucklebee for all-region selection. Goins, Petoskey, Frost and Hucklebee, in addition to sophomore outfielder Madison Henry and senior first baseman Emma Webb, all earned All-SAC recognition for their performances throughout the regular season.
With Frost, Webb and Madison Henry claiming all-tournament team honors, LMU reached its first-ever SAC Tournament championship game after a 7-2 dismantling of Carson-Newman and a 6-2 quarterfinal rout of The University of Virginia’s College at Wise. After a near month-long break from game action, the Lady Railsplitters entered the Division II Southeast Regional Championship as the No. 2 seed and did nothing but defeat two of the top teams in the country on back-to-back days. LMU tamed then eighth-ranked Young Harris College 2-1 before downing then second-ranked and top-seeded North Georgia 5-3 to reach the regional’s championship series, snapping the Nighthawks’ 16-game win streak on their home turf in the process.
Owning three top-10 wins during the season, the Lady Railsplitters are the only team from the SAC to appear in the final coaches poll of 2021. The Lady Buffs of West Texas A&M (43-12) end the year as the top team in the nation after winning the program’s second national title. Biola University (26-16), the 2021 national runner-up, is No. 2 in the season’s final rankings, followed by Augustana (49-8) third, North Georgia (43-8) fourth, Grand Valley State (45-10) fifth, Valdosta State (38-11) sixth, Saint Anselm College (33-7) seventh, West Chester University (34-16) eighth and Texas A&M-Commerce (33-18) ninth.
The 2021 NFCA Division II Top 25 Coaches Poll is voted upon by 16 Division II head coaches with two representing each of the eight NCAA regions. Records reflect games played through June 1. In 2021, schools that did not compete were not eligible for the national poll.