HIGH POINT, N.C. - Limestone College and Queens University of Charlotte share this year’s top position on the softball preseason poll as voted on by league head coaches. While both teams received 74 points, Queens edged out Limestone with a 6-3 advantage in first place votes. Pfeiffer, who enters its first season with head coach Amy Yates, finished in a tie with Coker for the fifth spot.
Queens University of Charlotte is poised to make the 2011 season their third in as many years to win the Conference Carolinas Tournament Championship. As the current defending tournament champions, Queens will rely heavily on its experienced players, including returning tournament MVP and Co-Pitcher of the Year Chantel Dodge. Dodge is joined by fellow pitcher Brandy Jester and the duo give Queens a dynamic pitching style that will make it hard for opponents to stop the Royals.
First-year Head Coach Miranda Ervin knows the sky is the limit in what the team can achieve this spring, “Each and every player works hard more for the team than themselves and when players do that, you know the team can be successful. These players have shown great progression from the fall season and we are ready to get out there and show the conference what we are all about.”
Limestone College amassed an impressive 14-4 record in conference play on their to their second consecutive Conference Carolinas regular season championship in 2010. The Saints who finished last season with a school record 40 wins fell just short of reaching the NCAA Tournament after falling to Queens 6-5 in 9 innings in the conference championship game.
LC returns four of their top five hitters from a season ago including junior outfielder Jenna Guse who was second on the team in batting average (.327) and led the team in steals (16). She is joined by senior catcher Hannah Mills who lead the team in batting average at .330 and by junior infielder Jordan Smith who batted .292 last season. Sophomore outfielder Kirstyn Burleson also returns after leading the team with seven home runs, 40 RBI and a .481 slugging percentage.
The Saints also return their top two pitchers from last season in senior Emily Wallace and sophomore Leah Quant. Wallace posted a 12-4 record with a team leading 1.06 ERA. She only allowed nine free passes in 125 innings pitched. Quant, who was selected as the Conference Carolinas Co-Pitcher of Year, boasted a 17-9 record with a 1.23 ERA. She finished the season with 178 strikeouts in 176.2 innings pitched.
At first glance, it would appear the Erskine College softball team would be in a rebuilding mode after graduating eight seniors from last year’s squad that included five starters and finished in second place in the league’s regular season at 14-6 and 23-23-1 overall record. But with an infusion of young talent last season, especially on the hill, the Flying Fleet are pushing toward another successful campaign for the 2011 season.
Last year freshmen pitchers Heather Richey and Kelsey Spurrier combined to go 16-10 with a 1.48 ERA, 45 walks and 164 strikeouts. Both freshmen threw a no-hitter and were named to All-Conference teams. In addition, fellow freshman Larissa Shannon earned Conference Carolinas Freshman of the Year honors by hitting .336 with nine home runs and 30 runs batted in.
Mount Olive College returns two pitchers and six position players this year, including all five 2010 All-Conference Carolinas selections. Leading the way is senior shortstop and two-time all-conference selection Kelly Minshew. Also returning is first team catcher Robbin Kennedy, along with second teamers Alyssa Bradshaw (designated hitter), Aubrey Reinhard (first base) and Kristin Ware (pitcher). Bradshaw hit two home runs in last year's Conference Carolinas Tournament.
Rounding out the softball preseason poll 5-10 was: Coker & Pfeiffer (tied), Belmont Abbey, Lees-McRae, Barton, and St. Andrews respectively.
T1. Queens - 74pts
T2. Limestone - 74pts
3. Erskine - 65
4. Mount Olive - 57
T5. Pfeiffer - 43
T5. Coker - 43
7. Belmont Abbey - 39
8. Lees-McRae - 27
9. Barton - 19
10. St. Andrews - 9