The Liberty softball team has been predicted to finish eighth in the Big South preseason coaches' poll.
The Liberty softball team has been voted to finish eighth in the Big South standings this season, through a preseason poll conducted among conference head softball coaches.
The Lady Flames received a total of 23 points in the coaches' poll. Last year, Liberty went 11-46, and placed ninth in the Big South with a 4-20 conference record.
Under the direction of second-year head coach Dot Richardson, the Lady Flames feature an even mix of veteran players and newcomers. Senior second baseman Megan Robinson returns after being named to the Big South All-Conference first team and Capital One Academic All-America third team in 2014. Kelby Allen, a senior catcher, returns after leading the Lady Flames in home runs in each of the last two seasons. In addition to nine returnees, Liberty welcomes eight newcomers, including seven freshmen and junior college All-American Mickey Loveridge.
Coastal Carolina, two-time defending Big South regular-season champion and tournament runner-up, gained the first position, receiving five first-place votes and 77 points. Longwood appeared second with 71 points, including two first-place mentions, while Campbell was third, at 57 points and one first-place vote.
The 2014 Big South Championship victors, Charleston Southern, were predicted to finish fourth, garnering 51 points and one first-place vote. Winthrop received 48 points for fifth place, while Radford (36), Presbyterian (28), Liberty (23) and Gardner-Webb (14) appeared in sixth through ninth place, respectively.
Both the reigning Big South Player of the Year and Pitcher of the Year return as seniors this season. Longwood senior catcher Megan Baltzell, the 2014 Big South Player of the Year and a 2013 NFCA All-American, was named 2015 Big South Preseason Player of the Year. Two-time Big South Pitcher of the Year Kiana Quolas of Coastal Carolina was voted 2015 Big South Preseason Pitcher of the Year.
The Lady Flames open the 2015 season on Feb. 6, taking on No. 23 South Alabama in the team's first game at the Sand Dollar Classic, held in Gulf Shores, Ala.
The 2015 Big South Softball Championship will be hosted by Campbell, from May 7-10 at Amanda Littlejohn Stadium in Buies Creek, N.C. The Big South champion will earn the conference's automatic bid to the 2015 NCAA Division I Softball Championship, which will begin the weekend of May 15.
2015 Big South Softball Preseason Poll Team (First-place votes) – Points 1. Coastal Carolina (5) - 77 2. Longwood (2) – 71 3. Campbell (1) – 57 4. Charleston Southern (1) – 51 5. Winthrop – 48 6. Radford – 36 7. Presbyterian College – 28 8. Liberty – 23 9. Gardner-Webb – 14
2015 Preseason Player of the Year: Megan Baltzell, Longwood 2015 Preseason Pitcher of the Year: Kiana Quolas, Coastal Carolina
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