Official Big South Release
The Liberty softball team has been predicted to finish second in the Big South standings, through a preseason poll voted on by the conference's head coaches.
Liberty received 52 points in the poll, garnering one first-place vote for the second year in a row. The Lady Flames tied their highest preseason standing, as Liberty was previously picked second in the preseason coaches' poll in 2000, 2001, 2011 and 2012.
In 2016, the Lady Flames went 31-28, earning their first 30-win season since 2011. Additionally, Liberty set a program record for conference victories, going 16-8 in Big South play to earn third place in the final league standings.
Fourth-year Head Coach Dot Richardson welcomes seven freshmen to join a talented roster. Liberty returns Julia DiMartino, a first-team all-conference pitcher as a freshman, along with two-time all-conference outfielder Tori Zavodny. Jaclyn Amader was named to the VaSID All-State first team as a freshman in 2016, and joined DiMartino and Sarah Robertson on the Big South All-Freshman team. Alexia Taylor, 2015 Big South Freshman of the Year, returns behind the plate.
Two-time defending Big South champion Longwood was voted to win the title, receiving 60 points and four first-place votes. After Liberty (52 points, one first place vote), third-place Campbell and fourth-place Charleston Southern received one first-place mention apiece.
Radford appears fifth with 34 points, followed in sixth by Presbyterian (26). Winthrop garnered one first-place mention, voted seventh with 20 points, while Gardner-Webb is eighth at 14.
Amber Schisler, a 2016 Big South All-Conference first team selection, was named 2017 Big South Preseason Player of the Year. Schisler is the first Campbell player to be voted Big South Preseason Player of the Year. Two-time Big South Pitcher of the Year Elizabeth McCarthy of Longwood was selected Big South Preseason Pitcher of the Year for the second time.
The Lady Flames begin their 2017 campaign with a trip to Clermont, Fla., Feb. 10-12. Liberty will compete in the Dot Richardson Invitational, facing Chattanooga, Fairleigh Dickinson and Morgan State.
The 2017 Big South Softball Championship will be hosted by Longwood, from May 10-13 at Lancer Field in Farmville, Va. The Big South champion will earn the conference's automatic bid to the 2017 NCAA Division I Softball Championship, which will begin the weekend of May 19.
2017 Big South Softball Preseason Poll Team (First-place votes) – Points 1. Longwood (4) - 60 2. Liberty (1) - 52 3. Campbell (1) - 45 4. Charleston Southern (1) - 37 5. Radford - 34 6. Presbyterian - 26 7. Winthrop (1) - 20 8. Gardner-Webb - 14
2017 Preseason Player of the Year: Amber Schisler, Campbell 2017 Preseason Pitcher of the Year: Elizabeth McCarthy, Longwood
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