JEFFERSON CITY, Tenn. – The coaches of the South Atlantic Conference have prognosticated Carson-Newman's softball program for a third place finish in the league. The SAC released its preseason poll and all-conference teams Wednesday.
The Eagles are coming off a Southeast Regional appearance and a South Atlantic Conference tournament title. C-N finished last year 33-21 and 8-12 in league play. Before catching fire at the end of the year, C-N closed out the season in eighth in the league standings.
"We don't get too caught up in the preseason rankings thing," head softball coach Michael Graves said. "I don't think a lot of people spend a great deal of time at this point of the year on rankings. I do know that we have to replace a true leader that has been a four year starter and an explosive bat that produced a lot of runs for our team (second baseman Kristen Toppel and third baseman Katie Pritchett, respectively)."
Lenoir-Rhyne was picked to repeat as regular season champions. The Bears were, for all intents and purposes, a unanimous choice to repeat. The Bears picked up 10 first place votes. Coaches can't vote for themselves in the preseason poll. Shena Hollar picked Wingate first in the preseason poll.
The Bears had 110 points in the poll. Coker followed in second with 91 votes, four in front of the Eagles in third.
Wingate occupies the fourth spot with 83 points and the final first place vote.
The top three teams in the poll all made last year's Southeast Regional. Queens, picked sixth in the preseason poll, also made last year's postseason tournament.
Anderson occupies the five spot in the rankings with 75 votes.
"Our team understands that we must continue to work hard so we can earn our spot in the top eight of the final region ranking poll," Graves said. "Right now there are over 30 teams that control their own destiny in that poll, but we understand that we can build on our resume every time we take the field."
A mere 27 points separate Coker at second in the preseason poll and Newberry in seventh.
Lincoln Memorial was picked eighth, while Catawba, Tusculum and Mars Hill round out the ledger.
The Eagles open the season Feb. 1 against Young Harris in Milledgeville, Ga.
School (First-Place Votes)