ROCK HILL, S.C. – Carson-Newman softball has been picked to repeat as South Atlantic Conference Champions and win a third title in four years according to the league's coaches in the SAC's annual preseason poll, released Thursday afternoon.
Carson-Newman claimed six first-place votes, and finished with four more votes (106-102) than Lenoir-Rhyne. The Bears, who had four first-place votes, shared the regular season title with Carson-Newman last season before the Eagles laid claim to the tournament title.
"Nothing much changes in the way of our expectations," Carson-Newman head softball coach Vickee Kazee-Hollifield said. "As a coach, I think it's our job to have kids prepared to play for a championship. Year in, year out, that's our goal, regardless of where we're picked in the preseason poll."
This is the first time Carson-Newman has been picked to win the league since the 2010 season. In that span, the Eagles have brought home the league championship on four occasions.
Coker picked up the remaining first-place vote to round out the top three. The Newberry Wolves follow in fourth place.
Spots five through eight are filled by Anderson, Wingate, Tusculum and Lincoln Memorial, respectively. Queens, Mars Hill and Catawba round out the poll.
The Eagles only lose one starter from last year's regional team, starting pitcher Alli Webster. Carson-Newman returns a solid core from last year's 43-13 led by senior shortstop Kristen Toppel (Roanoke, Va.), sophomore pitcher Lacie Rinus (Murfreesboro, Tenn.) and sophomore catcher KaraLynne Levi (Murfreesboro, Tenn.). All three players garnered All-SAC honors and will be bolstered by the return of All-American second baseman Abby Fiessinger (Benton, Ky.).