Rock Hill, S.C. – Brevard sophomore third baseman Maddie Fletcher was selected as the preseason Second Team All-SAC third baseman as released by the South Atlantic Conference on Wednesday afternoon. The Charlotte, N.C. native drove in seven runs last season while playing excellent defense behind the Tornados pitching staff on her way to garnering this preseason selection.
Carson-Newman College, which won the 2009 Food Lion SAC Tournament title and advanced to the NCAA Divison II Southeast Super Regional championship, is the favorite to win the 2010 South Atlantic Conference softball championship in a vote of the league’s head coaches, the conference announced.
Carson-Newman received four first-place votes and 72 total points, in a tight race between three of the league’s traditional softball powerhouses. The Lady Eagles went 32-17 in 2009 and won their ninth South Atlantic Conference Tournament title and finished ranked 21st in the final NFCA poll.
Carson-Newman also placed five on the preseason All-Conference team, which was also announced. Third baseman Whitney Kee and outfielder Leah Price were selected to the preseason All-Conference first team, while first baseman Sarah Little, shortstop Jessie Howard and outfielder Whitney Durham were named to the second team.
Kee ranked among the conference leaders in runs scored, walks and on-base percentage. Price hit .349 and was among the conference leaders with 16 stolen bases. Little led the SAC in RBIs and home runs. Howard hit .378 and led the conference in runs scored. Durham hit .336 with 38 RBI last season.
Lenoir-Rhyne University, which has won five conference championships, is picked to finish second. The Bears received one first-place vote and 69 total points, to edge Wingate University by one point. Wingate, the defending conference champion, received three first-place votes.
The Bears placed three on the preseason All-Conference team. Catcher Sarah Atkins and shortstop Kat Rivers were named to the first team, while pitcher Dawon Millwood was named to the second team.
Rivers was fifth in the league with a .408 batting average and had four triples. Atkins hit .376 with 15 doubles and 10 home runs last season. Millwood was 18-4 with 97 strikeouts as a freshman last season.
The Bulldogs also had three on the preseason All-Conference team. Pitcher Brittany Blankenship and outfielder LaRonda McClain were named to the first team, while pitcher Allison Smith was named to the second team.
McClain led the SAC with 27 stolen bases while batting .374 with 41 runs scored. Blankenship was 18-7 with 90 strikeouts, while Smith led the league with a 0.94 ERA, going 13-7 with 129 strikeouts.
Newberry College is picked to finish fourth. Newberry received one first-place vote and 51 total points.
Newberry had two named to the preseason All-Conference team. Pitcher Amanda Huckestein, the 2008 SAC Pitcher of the year after going 18-6 with a league-best 178 strikeouts, was named to the first team, while utility player Sara Powell was named to the second team. Powell hit .289 and was among the league leaders with 21 walks.
Mars Hill College is picked to finish fifth with 43 points. The Lions, who finished tied for second with Lenoir-Rhyne last season, tied Carson-Newman with five on the preseason All-Conference team.
First baseman Ashley Seawell, second baseman Rebekah Huff and outfielder Anna James were named to the first team, while outfielders Ashley Angell and Natalie Haithcox were named to the second team. Seawell hit .389 last season with nine home runs and 40 RBI. Huff hit .281 with 12 stolen bases. James hit .326 with 20 RBI. Angell hit .343 and had 13 stolen bases. Haithcox, the 2008 SAC Freshman of the Year, missed all but six games last year, but was an All-American in 2008.
Catawba College is picked to finish sixth with 40 points. Second baseman Allie Marshall, the 2007 SAC Freshman of the Year, was named to the second team. She had 40 RBI and 10 home runs last season.
Lincoln Memorial University is projected to finish seventh with 26 points. Catcher Devin Sponseller, who hit .330 last season, was named to the preseason All-Conference second team.
Tusculum College received 21 points for eighth place.
Brevard College rounds out the poll with 15 points. Brevard placed third baseman Maddie Fletcher on the preseason All-Conference second team.
The 2010 softball season starts Wednesday with a double header between Belmont Abbey and Newberry at 2 and 4 pm in Newberry, S.C.
The 2010 Food Lion SAC Softball Tournament will be April 22-25 in Wingate, N.C.
2010 SAC SOFTBALL COACHES POLL
1. Carson-Newman 4 72
2. Lenoir-Rhyne 1 69
3. Wingate 3 68
4. Newberry 1 51
5. Mars Hill 43
6. Catawba 40
7. Lincoln Memorial 26
8. Tusculum 21
9. Brevard 15
2010 SAC SOFTBALL ALL CONFERENCE TEAM
Catcher - Sarah Atkins, Lenoir-Rhyne
Pitcher - Amanda Huckestein, Newberry
Pitcher - Brittany Blankenship, Wingate
1st Base - Ashley Seawell, Mars Hill
2nd Base - Rebekah Huff, Mars Hill
Shortstop - Kat Rivers, Lenoir-Rhyne
3rd Base - Whitney Kee, Carson-Newman
Outfield - LaRonda McClain, Wingate
Outfield – Leah Price, Carson-Newman
Outfield - Anna James, Mars Hill
Utility - Debra Grijalva, Wingate
Catcher – Devin Sponseller, Lincoln Memorial
Pitcher - Dawon Millwood, Lenoir-Rhyne
Pitcher – Allison Smith - Wingate
1st Base - Sarah Little, Carson-Newman
2nd Base – Allie Marshall, Catawba
Shortstop – Jessie Howard, Carson-Newman
3rd Base – Maddie Fletcher, Brevard
Outfield - Ashley Angell, Mars Hill,
Outfield – Natalie Haithcox, Mars Hill
Outfield – Whitney Durham, Carson-Newman
Utility – Sara Powell, Newberry