Thomasville, NC--Conference Carolinas head softball coaches voted Mount Olive College as their preseason poll favorite for the 2008 season. Mount Olive is coming off its best season in school history, setting a school record for wins in a season and capturing a share of the regular season conference title for the first time in a decade. The Trojans posted an overall record of 39-17 and a conference mark of 16-4.
Leading the Trojans is 2007 conference player of the year Jenny Jackson, who was among the conference and national stats leaders in both pitching and hitting. On the mound, her 0.87 earned run average was the seventh-lowest in the nation. At the plate, her .442 batting average and .769 slugging percentage ranked nationally in the top 30.
Mount Olive returns seven starters altogether, including 2007 conference player of the year Jenny Jackson, who was among the conference and national stats leaders in both pitching and hitting. She is joined by two-time All-Conference selection Bailey Harrell and 2007 All-Conference catcher Kensie Cobb.
The Coker College softball team returned to the top of conference standings in 2007 as they were Co-Regular Season Champions with Mount Olive and Tournament Champions, after a year hiatus. The Cobras are returning All-Conference first team performers in first baseman Allie Bragg and outfielder Jessica Blackwell, along with All-Conference second team, All-Region, and league Tournament MVP, pitcher Shelly Catlett. The Cobras will also have league All-Tournament team members Ashton Williamson and Eunice Nettles back.
Coker completed the 2007 season with a record of 38-12 overall, while going 16-4 in conference play. Newcomers looking to make their mark with the Cobras this season are pitcher Sydney Greenwalt and third baseman Whitney Wallett.
Anderson University has high hopes for the upcoming season. The Lady Trojans were 25-16 overall and 14-6 in conference play last spring while hitting .308 and averaging 5.68 runs per game as a team. While almost half of this year's roster - eight players - are freshmen, head softball coach Tommy Hewitt is optimistic. "There's something we can always be doing and working on. I'm happy with our freshmen group. I think the team chemistry is the best we've had and we had a good fall. We're going to be young. We've got just two seniors - Kayla Thrasher and Melissa Carmichael." In 2007, Thrasher, a two-year starter at shortstop, batted .320 with six homers and 30 RBI, while Carmichael recorded six assists in right field and batted .259.
Rounding out the softball preseason poll 4-11 was: Pfeiffer, Limestone, Queens, Erskine, Belmont Abbey, Barton, Lees-McRae, and St. Andrews respectively.
Conference Carolinas Pre-Season Coaches Poll
(First place votes in parenthesis)
1. Mount Olive College (5)93
2. Coker College (4)91
3. Anderson University (1)72
4. Pfeiffer University (1)70
5. Limestone College 68
6. Queens University of Charlotte 62
7. Erskine College 48
8. Belmont Abbey College 33
9. Barton College 30
10. Lees-McRae College 20
11. St. Andrews Presbyterian College 18