Following last year’s regular season title, the Eastern Mennonite softball team has been picked to finish second in this year’s Old Dominion Athletic Conference Preseason Poll. The Lady Royals received two of the ten first place votes and totaled 65 points. Virginia Wesleyan, the 2011 ODAC Tournament Champion, came in first with 77 points.
The women graduated four seniors from last year’s squad, but do return much of their record-setting offensive firepower. Lisa Lee (Buckingham, VA/Buckingham County) (P/3B), a three-time All-ODAC selection, is back for her senior season. She was named ODAC Pitcher of the Year in 2011 with a program-record 19 wins on a 2.24 ERA. At the plate, Lee also had seven homeruns, 18 walks and 15 stolen bases, and she took over EMU’s Career Homerun title during her sophomore season.
Eastern Mennonite also returns five other All-ODAC performers, including First Teamers Molly Smith (Elkton, VA/Spotswood) (OF/P) and Sara Jenkins (Stanley, VA/Page County) (DP). In her freshman season, Smith led the Lady Royals with 55 hits, 14 doubles and 40 RBIs. Jenkins finished with a .364 batting average and hit all four of her homers in ODAC play.
Rasheeda Crews (Brookneal, VA/William Campbell) (C) and Brooke Hensley (Elkton, VA/Spotswood) (SS) were each named to the All-ODAC Second Team. Hensley was stellar defensively at shortstop and batted .441 with 31 RBIs. Crews returned last year after missing the 2010 campaign, and was third on the team with a .395 batting average.
All-ODAC Honorable Mention Courtney Allman (Mt. Solon, VA/Fort Defiance) returns her big stick to second base, where she tied for the ODAC lead with a program record eight homeruns last spring.
The Lady Royals broke numerous offensive program records last year and finished with the second-most wins in school history at 27-13. The women were also 14-4 in the ODAC. They open up the 2012 season Feb. 24-25 at the Triangle Classic in Raleigh, NC.
Virginia Wesleyan earned seven first place votes and 77 total points as the Marlins were picked to repeat as conference champions in the 2012 ODAC Softball Preseason Poll. Bridgewater College (57), Guilford College (54) and Roanoke College (52) are separated by just five votes for the next three slots in the predicted rankings.
The Marlins captured their sixth ODAC title in 2011, tying for second-most in the conference behind Roanoke (7) with Lynchburg. VWC turned the trick in just four games, the second straight year the ODAC’s tournament champion needed the minimum number of games to hoist the league’s hardware (EMU in 2010). VWC’s crown paved the way to the NCAA Division III Tournament, but the Marlins’ stay was shorter than expected following losses to Christopher Newport (8-6) and Kean University (13-5).
Virginia Wesleyan (29-11 overall, 10-8 in ODAC play in 2011) and reigning ODAC Coach of the Year, Brandon Elliott, welcome back all four of their all-conference performers from a season ago. Included in that group are a pair of All-ODAC First Team choices in ODAC Rookie of the Year, pitcher MacKenzie Creech (18-6, 1.84 ERA), and catcher Jaclyn Quinn (.378, 5 HR, 35 RBI). Creech tied for tops in the ODAC with 157 strikeouts and was second in wins (18) and innings pitched (160.0), while Quinn was second with 16 doubles and third with a .658 slugging percentage.
Bridgewater (31-11, 14-4), Guilford (26-15, 10-8) and Roanoke (27-11, 12-6) combine for six returning all-conference athletes, three from the first team. Leading the way for the Eagles is first team shortstop Hillary Rees (.410, 13 2B, 33 RBI). She’s joined by second team pitcher Heather Jenkins (13-6, 1.98 ERA, 120.1 IP). The Quakers will look to starter Jessica Burcham (14-6, 1.91 ERA), who led the league with 18 complete games and tied atop the charts with 157 strikeouts. The Maroons feature three returners from the all-conference lists including 2011 batting champ Leona Rainey (.446), who also led the league in stolen bases (32) and on-base percentage (.514). She’s joined by fellow first team choice, utility player Stephanie Clark (.322, 15 RBI and 4-2, 0.85 ERA).
Lynchburg (21-18, 8-10) goes in search of its fourth ODAC crown in the last six years. Helping with that effort is second team second baseman Sarah Smith (.263, .314 OBP) and honorable mention catcher Meagan Fredenburg (.316, 21 RBI).
Randolph (22-19, 7-11) returns three all-conference players from the team that went to the ODAC title game for the first time in school history. Lauren Stevenson (.440, 4 3B, 30 SB) and Brittany Willingham (.391, .623 SLG%) will again roam two-thirds of the WildCats’ outfield after first and second team seasons, respectively. Willingham led the ODAC in doubles (17) and runs batted in (49).
Randolph-Macon (21-13, 11-7) and Emory & Henry (10-24, 4-12) each feature a returning all-conference standout. The Yellow Jackets welcome back second team utility player Heather Lewis, who performed well both at the plate (.314, .392 OBP) and in the circle (9-8, 2.27 ERA). The Wasps are led by honorable mention catcher Jenae Morrissey (.346, .400 OBP) as new head coach Sara Schoenhoft prepares for her first season in Emory.
Sweet Briar College (0-20, 0-18) will look for new on-field leaders following the graduation of key seniors from 2011. Catcher/first baseman Nikki Thompson (.225, .311 OBP) is the Vixens’ top returning hitter.
Listed below is the 2012 ODAC Softball Preseason Poll. For more information, visit any of the participating schools’ websites, or go to the ODAC’s home on the Internet at www.odaconline.com. Don’t forget to become a fan of the ODAC on Facebook by clicking HERE. You can also follow the ODAC on Twitter by clicking HERE.
|2012 ODAC SOFTBALL PRESEASON POLL
(#) Denotes First Place Votes
|1. Virginia Wesleyan (7)||77 pts.|
|2. Eastern Mennonite (2)||65 pts.|
|3. Bridgewater||57 pts.|
|4. Guilford||54 pts.|
|5. Roanoke (1)||52 pts.|
|6. Lynchburg||43 pts.|
|7. Randolph||38 pts.|
|7. Randolph-Macon||38 pts.|
|9. Emory & Henry||17 pts.|
|10. Sweet Briar||9 pts.|