Liberty senior Kaylee West, an all-conference returnee, helps lead the 2012 Lady Flames softball team.
The Liberty softball team is predicted to finish in second place in the Big South Conference preseason poll, as announced today. The preseason rankings were voted on by the league's head coaches. Liberty, the reigning Big South postseason champion, went 30-30 last season, finishing in second place in the conference regular season standings with an 11-7 league mark. The Lady Flames then claimed the program's second conference title all-time by defeating top-seeded Radford in the Big South Softball Championship final. Head coach Paul Wetmore, entering his 19th season leading the Lady Flames, posted his 500th career coaching win in 2011. A total of three all-conference selections return for Liberty, led by 2011 Co-Player of the Year Kelly Strickland. Radford, three-time defending Big South regular-season champion, was voted to claim the conference title, earning six first-place votes. Charleston Southern follows Liberty, in third place, as the Buccaneers received one first-place vote. Conference newcomer Campbell is predicted to place in fourth, while seventh-place Winthrop received one vote for first place. Radford senior second baseman Nichole Beall was named the Big South Preseason Player of the Year. Strickland placed second in preseason player of the year voting. Beall's teammate, junior Jackie Jenkins, was chosen as Big South Preseason Pitcher of the year, edging Leslie Hensley of Presbyterian College in the voting. Liberty opens the 2012 regular season schedule by competing in the Elon Invitational, which takes place Feb. 10-12 in Elon, N.C. The 2012 Big South Softball Championship will be hosted by Radford from May 10-12. The three-day event will determine the Big South's automatic qualifier to the NCAA Division I Softball Championship.
2012 Big South Softball Preseason Poll Team (First-place votes) 1. Radford (6) 2. Liberty 3. Charleston Southern (1) 4. Campbell 5. Coastal Carolina 6. Gardner-Webb 7. Winthrop (1) 8. Presbyterian College
2012 Preseason Player of the Year: Nichole Beall, Radford
2012 Preseason Pitcher of the Year: Jackie Jenkins, Radford
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