Trojan Softball Picked to Finish Second in South Atlantic ConferenceJanuary 30, 2013
Neidigh, Child and Martin Earn Preseason All-Conference Honors
ROCK HILL, S.C. – Following last season’s record-setting campaign, the Anderson University softball team has been picked to finish second in the South Atlantic Conference, just behind defending champion Lenoir-Rhyne, by the league’s coaches as released Wednesday by the league office.
Coach Tommy Hewitt’s squad will be looking to build on last season, which saw the Trojans set a school record for wins in a season with 38 and advance to the SAC Tournament championship game before falling on a last-inning home run to top-seeded and 21st-ranked Lenoir-Rhyne.
“Softball teams in the SAC are known for their winning tradition and that’s what we are working toward here at Anderson,” said Hewitt. “This is one giant step toward establishing our own winning tradition here. I said it last year and it certainly applies this year - it’s not where you are picked but where you finish. Our aspirations are our possibilities and this team is well aware of our possibilities.”
Lenoir-Rhyne, which has gone a combined 45-7 in SAC games over the last three seasons en route to winning three-straight conference titles, is the top-ranked team in the preseason coaches’ poll.
The Bears, who have also won three-consecutive SAC Softball Tournament championships, received six first-place votes in the poll. L-R went 48-13 overall and 14-4 in the league play last season, reaching the NCAA Division II Softball Championship Southeast Regional Final before being eliminated.
Lenoir-Rhyne led the SAC with 334 runs scored and a 2.02 team ERA in 2012.
Just behind L-R in preseason poll was Anderson, which received the other four first-place votes. AU went 12-6 in the conference last season and earned the third seed in the SAC tourney.
Behind SAC Player of the Year Abby Child – who returns in 2013 - the Trojans led the league with a .322 team batting average and finished second with 303 runs scored.
2012 NCAA Tournament selection Catawba is third in the preseason poll, followed by No. 4 Carson-Newman, No. 5 Tusculum and No. 6 Wingate. Catawba finished second in last year’s SAC standings at 12-5 in the league, C-N finished fourth at 10-8, Tusculum tied for fifth at 9-9 and Wingate was seventh at 8-10.
Catawba’s 2.18 team ERA was second in the conference in 2012, Carson-Newman had the second-highest team batting average at .297, Tusculum finished fourth in team ERA at 2.48, and the Wingate pitching staff’s 79 walks allowed were the league’s second-fewest.
Completing the preseason poll was No. 7 Mars Hill, No. 8 Lincoln Memorial, No. 9 Brevard and No. 10 Newberry.
Also announced on Wednesday was the 2013 Preseason All-SAC Softball Team, which is led by a league-high five selections from Lenoir-Rhyne.
Around the first-team infield is Wingate catcher Betsy Braswell, L-R first baseman Jessica Fellmeth, Anderson second baseman Jessica Neidigh, L-R third baseman Haily Jarman, and Child, the first-team shortstop.
Neidigh, Child and Jarman finished first, third and sixth, respectively, in the SAC in batting average in 2012. Neidigh also led the conference with 62 runs scored, Child led the league with 61 RBI, and Jarman finished first in doubles with 18.
Fellmeth’s 14 home runs tied for the second most in the SAC in 2012, while Braswell’s .584 slugging percentage was 10th.
LMU’s Briana Mulkey, Brevard’s Brittany Fowler and L-R’s Marie Mauhar make up the first-team outfield. Mulkey’s 27 stolen bases led the SAC last season, Fowler hit .339, and Mauhar hit .248 with seven doubles.
LMU’s Amanda Snow is the first-team designated player and Tusculum’s Kaytlin Stroinski was selected as the first-team utility player. Snow led the Railsplitters in batting average, slugging percentage, on-base percentage, hits, RBI and home runs in 2012, while Stroinski led TC in batting average, slugging percentage, OBP, runs, hits and home runs.
Rounding out the First Team are Tusculum pitcher Elizabeth Johnson and Brevard pitcher Kayla Clemens. Johnson and Clemens tied for fifth in the SAC last season with identical 2.26 ERAs. Johnson also recorded 125 strikeouts, while Clemens finished with 119.
Making up the second-team infield are Catawba catcher Tara Gibbs, Carson-Newman first baseman Caitlyn Lance, Tusculum second baseman Nicole Ball, Lenoir-Rhyne shortstop Jody Mizelle and C-N third baseman Sara Kelley.
L-R’s Brittany Coursen, AU’s Rebecca Martin and Catawba’s Amanda Terry form the second-team outfield, while Mars Hill’s Robyn Stanek was named the designated player and Newberry’s Brittany Phillips was voted the utility player.
Catawba’s Emily Huneycutt and Mars Hill’s Taylor Morris were selected as the second-team pitchers.
Fellmeth, Neidigh, Child, Mulkey, Fowler, Snow, Stroinski and Johnson were all members of the 2012 All-SAC First Team, while Braswell, Jarman, Mauhar, Clemens, Lance, Coursen, Martin and Phillips were second-team selections last year.
“I am really delighted with Abby, Jessica and Rebecca’s preseason All SAC picks and I’m sure they consider it an honor and will work even harder to prove they are worthy,” added Hewitt.
The Trojans return eight starters from last year’s team, with Hewitt looking to replace Amber Duncan, a second-team all-conference selection as a designated player for AU.
Neidigh was the 2012 SAC Freshman of the Year, becoming the second consecutive Anderson player to earn the honor following first baseman Danielle Swygert’s selection in 2011.
Anderson opens the season on the road Saturday at Augusta State, then face Lees-McRae in their home-opener on Sunday. First-pitch versus the Bobcats is set for 1 p.m. at Smethers Field.
2013 SAC Softball Preseason Coaches’ Poll
Team Points (1st-place)
1. Lenoir-Rhyne 78 (6)
2. Anderson 71 (4)
3. Catawba 64
4. Carson-Newman 57
5. Tusculum 45
6. Wingate 41
7. Mars Hill 34
8. Lincoln Memorial 21
9. Brevard 19
10. Newberry 14