Softball Tabbed Second in Preseason Poll – Four Earn All-SAC HonorsJanuary 28, 2014
ROCK HILL, S.C. – On the heels of an appearance in the Savannah Super Regional and a school-record 40 wins last season, the Anderson softball team has been tabbed to finish second in the South Atlantic Conference, just behind defending four-time tournament champion Lenoir-Rhyne, by the league’s coaches as released Tuesday by the league office.
Lenoir-Rhyne, which has claimed seven regular-season SAC titles, garnered seven first-place votes from the coaches, while the Trojans collected three. Catawba and Carson-Newman split the remaining two votes.
The Trojans boast a veteran squad, with nine returning letterwinners, including five seniors who helped lead Anderson to its’ first-ever appearance in the NCAA Tournament last season. The Trojans earned a berth in the Southeast Super Regional and finished the year ranked No. 12 nationally in the final National Fastpitch Coaches Association (NFCA) poll.
AU ranked in the top 25 nationally in five offensive categories a year ago, including slugging percentage (.520), home runs per game (1.05) and runs per game (6.47) en route to setting a school record for wins in a season with 40.
L-R, which tied for third in the SAC standings in 2013 after going 37-16 overall and 11-7 in league play, reached the semifinal round of last year’s NCAA Division II Softball Championship southeast super regional. Tusculum – which won its first SAC title in program history last season after going 31-19 overall and 13-5 in the conference - is ranked No. 6 in the poll, while Lincoln Memorial is seventh, Mars Hill is eighth and Queens is ninth.
Completing the poll are Coker at No. 10, Newberry at No. 11 and Brevard at No. 12.
“The rankings do mean something – they are how your peers respect your talent,” said Anderson head coach Tommy Hewitt. “They could be right or wrong, but the season takes care of itself.”
Anderson led the way with four first-team all-conference honorees, while Wingate notched a first-team and four second-team selections. Lenoir-Rhyne also garnered four total honorees.
Trojan seniors Danielle Swygert and Laura Jansky, along with junior Jessica Neidigh and sophomore Molly Child earned First-Team All-SAC accolades.
Swygert, an Honorable Mention All-American a year ago, earned First-Team All-South Atlantic Conference accolades following last season after finishing third in the conference with a .398 batting average. The first baseman drove in 62 runs and tied for third in the conference with 45 runs scored and 14 doubles. Swygert was fourth in the league with a .620 slugging percentage, while posting 24 multi-hit games and driving in at least three runs on 11 occasions.
Jansky was named SAC Player of the Week in mid-March and finished third in the conference with 45 RBI last season. She finished 10th in the league with seven home runs and tied for sixth in the SAC with 12 doubles, while recording a .506 slugging percentage and posting 12 multi-hit games.
A left-handed hitting second baseman, Neidigh was a First All-America selection after leading the conference and ranking 15th nationally with a .457 batting average a year ago. She set a school record and led the league with 90 base hits and currently holds the school record with a .449 career batting average and ranks second in school record books with 128 career runs scored. Neidigh led the league with 66 runs scored and tied for first in the SAC with six triples on the season.
Child earned first-team all-conference honors following her rookie season after ranking third on the team and 13th in the league with a .335 batting average. She posted a 14-game hitting streak during the second half of February and was second in the league with 48 runs scored last season, while finishing fourth in the conference with 44 RBI. The center fielder was ranked in the league’s top-eight in four additional offensive categories.
Joining the Trojans on the all-conference squads were the league’s top individual award winners from last season, Carson-Newman shortstop Brittany Hefner and Catawba pitcher Carley Tysinger. Hefner, the 2013 SAC Player of the Year, led the conference with 19 home runs and 75 RBI, while Tysinger, the SAC Pitcher and Freshman of the Year, was the league-leader in wins with 25, ERA at 1.21 and strikeouts with 324.
Joining Hefner, Jansky, Swygert and Neidigh on the first-team infield were Mars Hill third baseman Robyn Stanek. Child, Carson-Newman’s Kelli Hensley and Tusculum’s Miranda Beeler made up the first-team outfield, Wingate Kayla Saliga is the team’s designated player, and Carson-Newman’s Elayna Siebert was the first-team utility player.
Lenoir-Rhyne’s Maryann Hoskins rounds out the honorees, joining Tysinger as a first-team pitcher.
The second-team infield pits Wingate catcher Taylor Laskey, Tusculum first baseman Kaytlin Stroinski, Wingate second baseman Hayley Whitley, Wingate shortstop Alexis Burrell and Lenoir-Rhyne third baseman Haily Jarman, while LMU’s Brianna Mulkey, Newberry’s Gabby Bedard and Lenoir-Rhyne’s Jody Mizzelle account for the second-team outfield.
Voting for the second-team designated player ended in a tie between Queens’ Whitney Britt and LMU’s Amanda Snow, Brevard’s Alyssa Miller is the second-team utility player, and Wingate’s Stacey Houser and Lenoir-Rhyne’s Brandi Hole are the second-team pitchers.
Anderson opens its 2014 schedule by welcoming Conference Carolinas’ foe Lees-McRae to Smethers Field on Sunday. First-pitch is slated for 1 p.m.
2013 SAC Softball Preseason Coaches’ Poll
Team Points (1st-place votes)
1. Lenoir-Rhyne 127 (7)
2. Anderson 114 (3)
3. Wingate 104
4. Catawba 86 (1)
Carson-Newman 86 (1)
6. Tusculum 83
7. LMU 54
8. Mars Hill 52
9. Queens 46
10. Coker 35
11. Newberry 23
12. Brevard 12