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Armstrong Named PBC Softball Preseason Favorite

AUGUSTA, GA – The Armstrong Atlantic State University Pirates have been selected as the Peach Belt team to beat in 2014 as a poll of the league’s head coaches was released on Wednesday.  The Pirates captured nine first-place votes and finished with 109 points in the poll, 11 more than second-place North Georgia.  Columbus State was third in the voting with Georgia College, Flagler, Francis Marion and USC Aiken just behind.  Lander, Georgia Southwestern, Georgia Regents, Young Harris and UNC Pembroke rounded out the voting.

Armstrong won their second consecutive PBC regular-season Championship in 2013, finishing 18-4 in league play and 44-10-1 overall.  The Pirates hosted the NCAA Southeast Regional tournament and advanced to their first NCAA World Series where they reached the semifinal round.  For 2014, Armstrong returns three seniors in Andrea Dalton, Kat Vogler and Kacie Patterson as well as junior Alexis Mercer, the 2013 PBC Player of the Year.

North Georgia finished the 2013 season tied for second in the league standings with a 16-6 PBC mark, 36-14 overall.   The Nighthawks reached the NCAA Tournament for the sixth straight season, a run that saw them appear in the World Series three times.   For 2014, UNG returns three PBC All-Conference performers including pitcher Courtney Poole, the PBC Freshman of the Year last season and catcher Kim McMillan and outfielder Taylor Merritt.

Columbus State won their second consecutive PBC Tournament championship in 2013 and returned to the NCAA Tournament for the second straight year.  The Cougars finished fourth in the PBC standings a year ago with a 15-7 league mark, 41-18 overall.  CSU will have one of the more experienced teams in 2014 with five returning seniors, junior All-Conference first baseman/pitcher Taylor Turner and junior pitcher Kristen Carr, who was named preseason All-Conference on Tuesday.

The 2014 season begins on Saturday, Feb. 1, with three PBC teams opening up at the PBC-SSC Challenge in Columbus, Ga.  The season continues to the PBC Tournament April 18-19 at Francis Marion University in Florence, S.C.  The PBC welcomes new UNC Pembroke head coach Brittany Bennett and new Young Harris coach Aileen Morales to the league this year.

The preseason coaches poll is listed below.  Coaches were not permitted to rank their own teams.

Rank Team 1st 2nd 3rd 4th 5th 6th 7th 8th 9th 10th 11th Total
1. Armstrong 9 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 109
2. North Georgia 1 7 1 1 0 0 0
0
0
0
0
98
3. Columbus State 0 2
7
1 0 0
0
0
0 0
0
91
4. Georgia College 1 1
2 3
2 0
0
0 0
0
0
77
5. Flagler
0
0
0
6
2 2 0
0 0
0 0
74
6. Francis Marion
0
0
1
0
2 4 2
1
0
0
0
61
7. USC Aiken
0
0
0
0
4 4 1 0
0 1 0
59
8. Lander
0
0
0
0
1 1 2 2 1 2 2 40
9. Georgia Southwestern
0
0
0
0
0
0
2 4 2 1
2 36
10. Georgia Regents
0
0
0
0
0
0
1
2 5
1 1
31
11. Young Harris
0
0
0
0
0
0
3 1 1 2 3
29
12. UNC Pembroke
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
1
2 4 2 20