AUGUSTA, GA -- The North Georgia Lady Saints have been selected
as the team to beat in the 2010 softball season in a poll of the
league’s head coaches released today. The Lady Saints
received nine of a possible 10 first-place votes to finish with 99
points, outdistancing Francis Marion in second place. Augusta State
and GCSU were tied for third while Armstrong Atlantic State was
fifth, one point ahead of USC Aiken in sixth. Spots two through six
were separated by five points.
North Georgia is coming off their most successful season ever as they won the PBC regular season and tournament titles, took the NCAA Southeast Region crown, were ranked #1 in the nation and advanced to the semifinal round of the World Series. North Georgia returns eight starters from the 2009 team, including PBC Pitcher of the Year and All-American Sarah Phillips, while All-Americans Leslee Smith and Courtney McGuire will enter their senior seasons after combining to hit 21 home runs last year.
Francis Marion welcomes back six letterwinners, including three position starters, the designated hitter, and one starting pitcher, from the 2009 squad that finished 32-19. Starting pitcher Michaela Wolf is back for her senior season after winning 20+ games for the third time in her career. With 70 career wins, she is currently 7th on the PBC all-time list. Also returning is All-Peach Belt Conference left fielder Jessica Birchmeier and three-year infield starter Kat Beauvais.
Augusta State returned to the NCAA tournament last year and have made the post-season field in two of the last three years. For 2010 the Lady Jaguars return six starters among their position players and three of the top four pitchers from last season’s squad that posted a 34-21 record. Among the returners is PBC Freshman of the Year Kacee Camp at shortstop and All-Conference DP Jessica Thornton.
GCSU made their fourth consecutive NCAA Tournament appearance in 2009 after finishing second in the PBC standings and a 32-24 overall record. For 2010, the Bobcats will have to replace two-time PBC Player of the Year Sherquita Bostick and Mandy Chandler, who holds the PBC career marks for wins and strikeouts. Returning is All-Conference catcher Anna Parker who hit seven home runs last year and infielder Kayla Smith, who hit three homers in the NCAA Tournament.
Several changes are in store for the 2010 season including the addition of Flagler College, coached by Kristen Overton who played for four years at North Florida, winning two PBC titles. The PBC tournament format has also changed, with only the top eight teams advancing to the championship April 16-18 in Florence, S.C.
The 2010 coaches poll is below, coaches were not permitted to rank their own teams. A team-by-team preview can be seen here.
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