Sarah Ellis and the Lady Flames have been selected to finish third in the 2009 Big South Conference preseason softball poll.
The Liberty Lady Flames softball team has been selected to finish third in the Big South Conference this season in the league's annual preseason softball poll. The poll is voted on by the head coaches in the conference. Liberty, which was the 2008s Big South Championship runner-up, garnered a total of 33 points in the poll. The Lady Flames completed the 2008 season with a record of 20-40-1 under head coach Paul Wetmore, who will begin his 16th year leading the Lady Flames next week. Liberty returns several key players from last year's squad, including senior infielder Beth Bennett, who will start the season having played in all 187 games of her collegiate career. Bennett will be joined by junior infielder J'nae Jefferson, who was named to the 2008 Big South all-tournament team, along with returning hurlers Sarah Ellis and Tiffani Smith. Winthrop was the unanimous pick to finish first in the conference this year with 49 points. In addition, Winthrop junior Lisa Kingsmore was voted the Big South Preseason Player of the Year, while her teammate, Megan Evans, was named Preseason Pitcher of the Year. Behind Winthrop, Radford was picked to finish second with 41 points. Liberty received 25 third-place points and eight fourth-place points. Behind Liberty was Coastal Carolina with 25 points, followed by Big South newcomer Gardner-Webb with 23, Charleston Southern with 13 and Presbyterian with 12 points. Liberty opens its 2009 season on Feb. 6 against Cal State Northridge in the first of four games the Lady Flames will play in the three-day Cathedral City Classic in Palm Springs, Calif. The tournament field also includes No. 12 Fresno State and No. 20 Long Beach State. 2009 Big South Conference Preseason Softball Poll (combined votes)
4. Coastal Carolina
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