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Lady Flames Predicted to Finish 7th in Big South Preseason Softball Poll
The Liberty softball team has been voted to finish seventh in the Big South standings this season, through a preseason poll conducted among conference head softball coaches.
This marks the second season in a row that the Lady Flames have appeared seventh in the Big South preseason poll. Last year, Liberty went 20-37, and finished in a tie for seventh place with an 8-16 Big South record.
Under the direction of first-year head coach Dot Richardson, the Lady Flames will feature a veteran team in 2014. Liberty returns 18 players from a season ago, including a combined 10 juniors and seniors. Senior outfielder Katie Zavodny was a 2013 NFCA All-Region first team selection, while senior designated player Sammi Shivock was named to the NFCA All-Region second team last year.
Coastal Carolina, 2013 Big South regular-season champion, gained the first position, receiving four first-place votes and 74 points. Campbell garnered 68 points for second place, including one first-place mention. Defending conference champion Longwood finished third in the poll, with 67 total points and three first-place votes.
Winthrop, runner-up at the 2013 Big South Softball Championship, was fourth with 46 points, while Charleston Southern (43 points) appeared fifth, receiving the remaining first-place vote. Radford (41), Liberty (30), Gardner-Webb (21) and Presbyterian College (15) followed in sixth through ninth place, respectively.
Longwood junior catcher Megan Baltzell, a 2013 NFCA All-America second team member, was named 2014 Big South Preseason Player of the Year. Reigning Big South Pitcher of the Year Kiana Quolas of Coastal Carolina was voted 2014 Big South Preseason Pitcher of the Year.
The Lady Flames open the 2014 season on Feb. 7, facing Western Kentucky to begin the FGCU/Four Points by Sheraton Invitational, hosted by Florida Gulf Coast in Fort Myers, Fla.
The 2014 Big South Softball Championship will be hosted by Coastal Carolina, from May 8-11. The Big South champion will earn the conference's automatic bid to the 2014 NCAA Division I Softball Championship, which will begin the weekend of May 15.
2014 Big South Softball Preseason Poll
Team (First-place votes) - Points
1. Coastal Carolina (4) - 74
2. Campbell (1) - 68
3. Longwood (3) - 67
4. Winthrop - 46
5. Charleston Southern (1) - 43
6. Radford - 41
7. Liberty - 30
8. Gardner-Webb - 21
9. Presbyterian College - 15
2014 Preseason Player of the Year: Megan Baltzell, Longwood
2014 Preseason Pitcher of the Year: Kiana Quolas, Coastal Carolina