AUGUSTA, GA -- For the first time, North Georgia College & State University has been named the preseason favorite to win the Peach Belt Conference softball championship in a poll of the league’s head coaches released on Wednesday. The Saints received five of a possible nine first-place votes for 76 points, six more than Francis Marion in second place. GCSU was third with 64 while Armstrong Atlantic State was fourth with 62. UNC Pembroke, Columbus State, Augusta State, USC Aiken, Lander and Georgia Southwestern rounded out the voting.
North Georgia finished 35-18 overall and 10-8 in conference play
last season as they advanced to the championship game of the PBC
Tournament and made their first NCAA South Atlantic Regional
appearance. The Saints return 15 players and seven starters from
last year’s team including All-Conference second baseman
Laura Voyles and 20-game winner Sarah Phillips on the mound.
Francis Marion made their first NCAA Tournament appearance last
season a memorable one as they won the region championship to
advance to the DII World Series. The Patriots, 39-16 last year and
10-8 in PBC play, were ranked #5 in the nation in the final poll
last year and return 14 letterwinners and six position starters for
2009. Also back is All-America pitcher Michaela Wolf who joins
All-Conference players Shannan Tyson and Jessica Birchmeier.
GCSU won the 2008 PBC Tournament over North Georgia to return to
the NCAA Tournament for the third straight year. 40-14 last season
with a 12-6 PBC record, the Bobcats return all but two field
starters including PBC Player of the Year and All-American
Sherquita Bostick. Also returning is All-America pitcher Mandy
Chandler, one of eight seniors on the 2009 roster.
Armstrong Atlantic State advanced to the finals of the NCAA
Regional tournament and were second in the PBC standings after
finishing 30-23 overall, 13-5 in the conference. Seven starters
return for this season, including All-Conference shortstop Ashley
Bain and utility player Sam Floyd.
The 2009 PBC coaches poll is listed below. Coaches were not allowed to rank their own team. Schools were given nine points for a first-place vote, eight for a second and so on. The 2009 softball season begins on Feb. 4 with all teams taking the field by Feb. 6. Conference play begins on Feb. 10 and continues through to the PBC Tournament April 17-19, 2009, in Florence, S.C.
A team-by-team preview of the 2009 season can be found here.
2009 Softball Preseason Poll
|1.||North Georgia||5||3||1||0||0||0||0||0||0|| 76|
|2.|| Francis Marion||4||1||2||0||1||1||0||0||0||67|
|4.|| Armstrong Atlantic St.||1||1||3||4||0||0||0||0||0||62|
|5.|| UNC Pembroke||0||1||1||4||1||1||1||0||0||51|
|6.|| Columbus State||0||0||0||1||4||3||1||0||0||41|