ANDERSON, S.C. – The 20th-ranked Anderson softball team begins its quest for a second consecutive trip to the NCAA Tournament when the Trojans open their 2014 schedule by playing host to Conference Carolinas’-foe Lees-McRae in a twin bill slated to start Sunday afternoon at 1 p.m. at Smethers Field.
Anderson was a preseason pick to finish second in the South Atlantic Conference Coaches’ Preseason Poll released last Tuesday, after recording the most successful season in school history. The Trojans were a stellar 40-15 in 2013, while earning the program’s first-ever appearance in the NCAA Tournament a year ago and a No. 12 national ranking in the final National Fastpitch Coaches Association (NFCA) poll. This year’s squad features nine returning letterwinners, including eight starters and five seniors from last year’s team that earned a berth in the Savannah Super Regional.
Seniors Danielle Swygert and Laura Jansky, along with junior Jessica Neidigh and sophomore Molly Child were named Preseason First-Team All-SAC.
Swygert, an Honorable Mention All-American last season, finished third in the conference with a .398 batting average, while driving in 62 runs and was fourth in the league with a .620 slugging percentage. Jansky earned SAC Player of the Week once and finished third in the conference with 45 RBI a year ago. She finished 10th in the league with seven home runs and tied for sixth in the SAC with 12 doubles.
Neidigh was named a First Team All-American following last season while 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. Child earned first-team all-conference honors last year 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 ranked in the league’s top-eight in six offensive statistical categories.
Lees-McRae was picked to finish ninth in the Conference Carolinas Preseason Coaches' Poll, which was released on Friday. The Bobcats posted an overall record of 7-40 a year ago and finished 11th in the Conference Carolinas with a 2-18 mark, but are expected to return 11 letterwinners from last year's squad.
The Series vs. Lees-McRae
Sunday’s doubleheader marks the second meeting between the two programs since the Trojans joined the South Atlantic Conference for the 2011 campaign. Both schools were members of the Conference Carolinas until that season and the teams have met 27 times overall, with the Trojans holding a 15-12 advantage in the all-time series.
The Trojans swept Lees-McRae by identical 8-0 scores in last season’s matchups at Smethers Field, with Neidigh and Abby Child leading the way for AU. Neidigh posted a three-run home run, a double and a walk, while Child was a perfect 3-for-3 on the afternoon. The shortstop added a pair of walks and a double, while driving in a run. Third baseman Bri Cason was 2-for-3, with a pair of singles and scored twice in the sweep. Center fielder Molly Child blasted a solo homer and crossed the plate twice.
The two teams were slated to meet during the 2010 campaign, but heavy fog in the Banner Elk, N.C. area forced cancellation of the doubleheader.