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Softball Predicted Fourth in Big South Poll

January 31, 2008  Lynchburg, Va.  RSS
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Ashley Williams, who finished second in the voting for preseason player of the year, and the Lady Flames are predicted to finish fourth this year in the Big South Conference.

Ashley Williams, who finished second in the voting for preseason player of the year, and the Lady Flames are predicted to finish fourth this year in the Big South Conference.

The Lady Flames softball program, fresh off its second-consecutive 30-plus winning season, has been predicted to finish fourth in the annual Big South preseason poll. The poll is voted on by the league's head softball coaches and sports information directors.

Winthrop, last year's Big South champion, received 10 first-place votes and 68 out of a possible 72 points, predicting them to reclaim the title in 2008. Radford, which received one top vote and 58 points, was picked ahead of third-place Coastal Carolina, which notched 42 points.

Liberty, last year's regular season co-champions during a year which included wins over three Top 25 programs, finished fourth in the voting with one No. 1 pick and 40 points. Associate member Birmingham-Southern finished fifth with 26 points, while Charleston Southern rounded out the list with 17 points.

Along with the team preseason rankings, the Big South released its preseason Player and Pitcher of the Year honors, which were given to Winthrop's Lisa Kingsmore and Radford's Ashley Taylor, respectively.

Kingsmore, a first-team all-Big South selection last year, finished 2007 ranked third in the league with a .401 batting average and No. 7 with 89 hits. She ranked second in the Big South with a .437 on-base percentage and finished the year as the nation's 19th toughest player to strikeout.

Liberty's Ashley Williams finished second in the preseason Player of the Year voting behind Kingsmore, as the rising senior ranked third in the Big South in RBI (47), fourth in total bases (125) and home runs (13).

Taylor was tabbed the Big South Preseason Pitcher of the Year for the second-straight season, following a banner year which saw her set a Highlander single-season record with 266 strikeouts. She led the Big South in ERA (2.01), strikeouts and innings pitched (251.1).

The Lady Flames Sarah Ellis received one vote for consideration, following a 2007 campaign which saw her posted a 12-8 record, a 3.15 ERA and 92 strikeouts in 151.0 innings of work.

The Lady Flames open up their season in Charleston, S.C., by participating in the College of Charleston Cougar Classic, Feb. 22-24, 2008. Liberty will kick off the season against Tennessee Tech on Feb. 22, followed by games with host College of Charleston, Kennesaw State, N.C. State and Towson during the remainder of the three-day event.

2008 Big South Conference Preseason Softball Poll (combined votes)   Rk  Team (first-place votes)      1    2   3   4   5   6  Points   1.  Winthrop (10)                 60   5  --   3  --  --  68   2.  Radford (1)                    6  40  12  --  --  --  58   3.  Coastal Carolina              --   5  20  15   2  --  42   4.  Liberty (1)                    6   5   8  15   6  --  40   5.  Birmingham-Southern           --   5   8  --   8   5  26   6.  Charleston Southern           --  --  --   3   6   8  17