Oklahoma City University held the fourth spot in the NAIA preseason softball rankings released recently.
The Stars have appeared in 82 consecutive national polls for the NAIA's longest active streak. OCU has been in the top 18 in each of those rankings.
OCU went 47-20, made the program's 13th national championship game appearance and captured the Sooner Athletic Conference Tournament crown to finish second in the final rankings last season. OCU has eight softball national championships won in 1994, 1995, 1996, 1997, 2000, 2001, 2002 and 2007.
Returning OCU all-Americans are Tori Joyner, LeeAnn Lopez and Kylee Rounsaville. Lopez, a senior from Grand Prairie, Texas, posted a .399 batting average, 87 hits, 20 doubles, 19 homers and 61 RBIs in 2012.
Rounsaville, a junior from Yukon, recorded a .384 average with 78 hits, 11 doubles, 12 homers and 50 RBIs in garnering NAIA catcher of the year. Joyner, a senior shortstop from Mustang, hit .397 with 15 doubles, a triple, 25 RBIs and 48 steals last season.
In 2012, the Stars led the NAIA in strikeouts (627) and innings pitched (436) as Lily LaVelle set the NAIA single-season record with 540 strikeouts. OCU also ranked second nationally with 540 hits, third with 478 runs scored and 10.299 hits per game, fourth with 417 RBIs and a .169 opponents' batting average and fifth in batting average (.361), home runs per game (1.269) and doubles (108).
OCU coach Phil McSpadden, an NAIA and OCU Athletics Hall of Famer, has directed OCU to 13 national championship game appearances, including eight national titles – both the most in the NAIA. OCU has made more appearances (26) in the NAIA softball championships than any other school. McSpadden has a 1,317-327 record through 25 years at OCU. McSpadden and his assistants have been honored as the national coaching staff of the year four times, including last year.
OCU opens the 2013 season with a 1 p.m. doubleheader vs. William Woods (Mo.) at Claremore. The SAC Tournament will be held May 3-4 at Hall of Fame Stadium, and berths in the new NAIA Softball Championship Opening Round on May 13-15 will be at stake. The NAIA Championships will be May 24-30 in Columbus, Ga.