Rock Hill, S.C. - The Brevard softball team lost four seniors who contributed both on the field and on the mound last season in Kristin Tettemer, Amber Clontz, Lindsey Morgan, and Aimee Rogers, but Coach Britne’ Stubbs is excited as to what this season will bring.
Having returned a group that gained valuable experience last year and adding a strong freshmen/transfer class to the mix, the Tornados will be looking to prove the naysayers wrong this year after being picked ninth in the South Atlantic Conference preseason poll.
The Tornados look to improve on their 13-27 record from the 2008 season as they embrace their first full season as South Atlantic Conference and NCAA Division II members.
Carson-Newman College is the favorite to win the 2009 South Atlantic Conference softball championship in a vote of the league’s head coaches, the conference announced.
Carson-Newman is looking to build off of their regular season and Food Lion SAC Tournament title they won last year with a 49-8 record. The Eagles reached the NCAA South Atlantic Regional last year as well. They received five first place votes and 75 total points.
The Eagles placed four players on the preseason All-Conference first team, which was also announced.
Pitcher Stephanie Templeton, who finished last year with 170 strike outs, 25 wins, and a 1.25 ERA, was named to the first team. Catcher Amber Palmer, first baseman Sara Little, and outfielder Whitney Kee were selected to the second team.
Wingate University is picked to finish second. The Bulldogs, coming off of a 31-17 record last season, received 63 points.
The Bulldogs have four players on the preseason All-Conference team. Pitcher Brittany Blankenship, who had 159 strike outs, 37 wins, and a 1.70 ERA, and third baseman Hallie Pettigrew were named to the first team. Outfielders Heather Winchester and LoRonda McClain received second team honors.
Lenoir-Rhyne University is picked to finish third. They received two first place votes and 58 total points.
The Bears had three named to the preseason All-Conference first team. Second baseman Noel Belk returns after batting .383 last season. Joining Belk on the preseason All-Conference first team are shortstop Kat Rivers, who hit eight home runs last year, and outfielder Brittany Cherry, who had 70 hits and 17 doubles last season.
Mars Hill College is picked to finish fourth with 52 points.
The Lions have four players named to the the preseason All-Conference. Outfielder Natalie Haithcox, the 2008 SAC Freshman of the Year who had 74 hits and 11 home runs and first baseman Ashley Seawell, who hit nine home runs last season, were named to the first team. Pitchers Tiffany Farthing and Paige Brantley made second team. Farthing had 127 strike outs last season, while Brantley finished with 99.
Lincoln Memorial Univeristy is fifth in the preseason poll after receiving 43 points and finishing with a 32-16 record last year.
The Railsplitters have three players on the preseason All-Confernce team including third baseman Sara Henn, the reigning SAC Player of the Year. Henn had 74 hits, 50 runs, and led the league with 13 home runs last year. She is joined on the first team by outfielder Jackie Adams, who had 28 stolen bases last season. Utility player Mira McPeek received second team honors after hitting 14 doubles last year.
Catawba College is sixth in the preseason poll after receiving one first place vote and 39 total points. Catcher Ryann Baker, who finished last season with a .283 batting average and four home runs, was named to the first team.
Newberry College is picked to finish seventh after receiving one first place vote and 34 points. Second baseman Kat Hammond, who had 56 hits, nine home runs, and a .415 batting average last season, was named to the preseason All-Conference second team.
Tusculum College is eight after receiving 29 points in the preseason poll. Shortstop Ashley Basilicato, who finished last year with nine home runs and a .371 batting average, was named to the preseason All-Conference second team for the Pioneers.
Brevard College rounds out the preseason poll with 12 points. They are looking to improve on a 13-27 record last year after being a provisional member in conference play.
The 2009 softball season starts February 4 with a double header between Lander and Newberry at 2 and 4 pm in Newberry, S.C.
The 2009 Food Lion SAC Softball Tournament will be April 23-25 in Hickory, N.C.
2009 SAC SOFTBALL COACHES POLL
1. Carson-Newman 5 75
2. Wingate 63
3. Lenoir-Rhyne 2 58
4. Mars Hill 52
5. Lincoln Memorial 43
6. Catawba 1 39
7. Newberry 1 34
8. Tusculum 29
9. Brevard 12
2009 SAC SOFTBALL ALL CONFERENCE TEAM
Catcher - Ryann Baker, Catawba
Pitcher - Brittany Blankenship, Wingate
Pitcher - Stephanie Templeton, Carson-Newman
First Base - Ashley Seawell, Mars Hill
Second Base - Noel Belk, Lenoir-Rhyne
Shortstop - Kat Rivers, Lenoir-Rhyne
Third Base - Sara Henn, Lincoln Memorial
Third Base, Hallie Pettigrew, Wingate
Outfield - Natalie Haithcox, Mars Hill
Outfield - Brittany Cherry, Lenoir-Rhyne
Outfield - Jackie Adams, Lincoln Memorial
Utility - Sara Powell, Newberry
Catcher - Amber Palmer, Carson-Newman
Pitcher - Tiffany Farthing, Mars Hill
Pitcher - Paige Brantley, Mars Hill
First Base - Sara Little, Carson-Newman
Second Base - Kat Hammond, Newberry
Shortstop - Ashley Basilicato, Tusculum
Outfield - Whitney Kee, Carson-Newman
Outfield - Heather Winchester, Wingate
Outfield - LaRonda McClain, Wingate
Utility - Mira McPeek, Lincoln Memorial