GREENWOOD, Ind. --- Transylvania University has been voted the favorite to capture the 2017-18 Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference women's basketball championship. The Pioneers received five first-place votes in the HCAC Coaches Preseason Poll and collected 94 points in all. Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology finished second with 90 total points and four first place votes.
Bluffton University placed third in the poll with 85 points and the final first place vote and was followed by Hanover College with 69 points in the fourth spot. Franklin College (59 pts), Defiance College (41), Manchester University (41), Anderson University (31), Earlham College (26), and Mount St. Joseph University (14) rounded out the poll.
Transylvania finished in third place in the HCAC standings a year ago, finishing the 2016-17 season with a record of 20-8, 12-6 HCAC and will look for their fourth title in six years this winter. The Pioneers lost to Rose-Hulman in the HCAC tournament championship 50-40 last year.
Transylvania returns a pair of All-HCAC selections to the court this winter for head coach Juli Fulks. Senior forward Rachel Cox (Independence, Ky. / Simon Kenton) returns for the Pioneers and averaged 12.9 points per game and 7.6 rebounds per game. Junior Celia Kline (Madeira, Ohio / Madeira) also returns for Transylvania after earning All-HCAC honors as a sophomore. Kline contributed 14.9 points per game, while averaging 41.3 percent from behind the arc.
Rose-Hulman finished atop the league standings a year ago, finishing the season 24-4 overall and 17-1 in league play. The Fightin' Engineers ended the season with a 57-54 loss to Wheaton (Ill.) in the first round of the NCAA Tournament last year. Rose-Hulman will return three All-HCAC selections from last season. Junior forward Ally Bromenschenkel (Mendota, Ill. / Mendota) is the returning leading scorer for the Fightin' Engineers after averaging 13.0 points per game as a sophomore. Rose-Hulman also returns senior Alyzia Dilworth (Grand Rapids, Mich. / Catholic Central) and junior Abby Bromenschenkel (Mendota, Ill. / Mendota) to this year's squad. Dilworth averaged 8.3 points and 4.2 rebounds per contest last season, and Abby Bromenschenkel averaged 7.3 points per game.
The Bluffton women's team finished second in the league standings last season, posting a 21-5 overall record and a 15-3 mark in league play. Bluffton lost to Transylvania in the HCAC tournament semifinal, 61-55. Bluffton returns two members of the All-HCAC team along with the reigning Freshman of the Year. Sophomore Tj Mills (Dayton, Ohio / Chaminade-Julienne) earned a spot on the All-Freshman team last year and the Freshman of the Year title after her efforts last winter. Mills averaged 7.4 points per game and 3.0 assists per game last season. Also returning for the Beavers are seniors Kaycee Rowe (Harrod, Ohio / Allen East) and Macey Sheerer (Bucyrus, Ohio / Bucyrus). Rowe and Sheerer led the Bluffton team last year in scoring while averaging 14.7 and 14.5 points per game, respectively.
The first weekend of the schedule is slated for November 17 with the first conference games scheduled for December 2.
2017-18 Women's Basketball Players to Watch
Anderson: Kaycee Davis (So., G, 5-2, Markle, Ind. / Norwell), Olivia Love (So., C, 5-8, Goshen, Ind. / Goshen), Tatum Minier (So., F, 6-0, Delphi, Ind. / Delphi)
Bluffton: Macey Sheerer (Sr., G, 5-6, Bucyrus, Ohio / Bucyrus), Kaycee Rowe (Sr., G/F, 5-9, Harrod, Ohio / Allen East), Abby O'Donnell (Sr., F, 5-11, Arcanum, Ohio / Arcanum), TJ Mills (So., G, 5-4, Dayton, Ohio / Chaminade-Julienne)
Defiance: Whitney Schalk (Sr., G, 5-3, Bellevue, Ohio / Bellevue), Mekai White (Sr., G, 5-8, Cincinnati, Ohio / Winton Woods), Shelby Stamm (So., G, 5-6, Bellevue, Ohio / Bellevue), Ashley Lee (Jr., G/F, 5-9, Millington, Mich. / Delta College)
Earlham: Mariah Flynn (Sr., F, 5-11, Kodak, Tenn. / Seymour), Camryn White (So., G, 5-6, Louisville, Ky. / Christian Academy), Shannah Pittman (So., G, 5-11, Lyons, Ind. / White River Valley)
Franklin: Kelsey Smith (Sr., G, 5-8, Scottsburg, Ind. / Scottsburg), Taylor Baxter (So., G, 5-8, Indianapolis, Ind. / Mooreseville), Erin Bradley (So., F, 5-9, Bedford, Ind. / Bedford North Lawrence)
Hanover: Allison Nash (Sr., F, 5-9, Indianapolis, Ind. / Speedway), Claire Cromer (Jr., G, 5-4, Wabash, Ind. / Wabash), Maleha Motter (So., F/C, 5-10, Danville, Ind. / Danville), Alexis Nall (So., F/C, 5-10, Mount Vernon, Ind. / Posey)
Manchester: Faith-Alexis Graham (Jr., G, 5-6, Indianapolis, Ind. / North Central)
Mount St. Joseph: Lainee Studer (Jr., G, 5-7, Pleasant Plain, Ohio / Little Miami), Brooklyn Sturwold (Jr., G, 5-3, North Bend, Ohio / Mercy), Hayley Hudson (Jr., G/F, 5-8, Ross, Ohio / Ross), Courtney Merritt (Sr., G/F, 5-8, Cincinnati, Ohio / AIE)
Rose-Hulman: Alyzia Dilworth (Sr., G, 5-8, Grand Rapids, Mich. / Catholic Central), Ally Bromenschenkel (Jr., F, 6-1, Mendota, Ill. / Mendota), Abby Bromenschenkel (Jr., G, 5-11, Mendota, Ill. / Mendota), Chiarra Franklin (Jr., F, 5-9, Kansas City, Mo. / Liberty), Taylor Graham (Jr., G, 5-6, Fishers, Ind. / Hamilton Southeastern)
Transylvania: Kristen Hayes (Jr., G, 5-8, (Berea, Ky. / Madison Southern), Celia Kline (Jr., G, 5-4, Madeira, Ohio / Maderia), Rachel Cox (Sr., F, 6-0, Independence, Ky. / Simon Kenton)