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Defending SAC softball champion Lenoir-Rhyne is a nearly unanimous pick to win the 2012 title, according to a coachesâ€™ poll released Thursday.
Lenoir-Rhyne went 45-10 overall and 16-2 in league play in 2011, winning both the SAC regular season and Food Lion Tournament championships.Â L-R received all but one of the preseason pollâ€™s first-place votes.
The Bears also lead the way with five selections to the preseason All-SAC team â€” four on the first team and one player on the second team.Â
Pitcher Dawon Millwood returns for Lenoir-Rhyne after posting a 1.43 ERA and leading the SAC with an opponent batting average of .186 last season, earning the conferenceâ€™s Pitcher of the Year award.Â She is joined on the preseason All-SAC first team by teammates Jessica Fellmeth at first base, Carlee Carpenter at second base and Jody Mizelle in the outfield.Â
Carson-Newman is second in the preseason poll and is guided by three preseason first-team All-Conference selections, including catcher Brianna Shoemake, outfielder Kim Whaley and 2011 SAC Player of the Year Mary Shealy.
Shealy led the league with 36 pitching wins, while also hitting .299 with 12 home runs.
Wingate is No. 3 in the preseason poll, after going 31-15 in 2011.Â
WU is followed in the poll by Catawba, which is led in 2012 by preseason All-SAC first-team selection Kayla Myers at the utility position.Â
Tusculum is No. 5 in the preseason poll, followed by Lincoln Memorial â€” which received the other first-place vote â€” and Anderson.Â Tusculum and Anderson placed two student-athletes on the preseason All-SAC team, while LMU has three spots.
2012 SAC Softball Preseason All-Conference Team
C â€“ Brianna Shoemake, C-N
P â€“ Mary Shealy, C-N
P â€“ Dawon Millwood, L-R
1B â€“ Jessica Fellmeth, L-R
2B â€“ Carlee Carpenter, L-R
SS â€“ Abby Child, Anderson
3B â€“ Natalie Haithcox, M. Hill
OF â€“ Brianna Mulkey, Lin. Mem.
OF â€“ Jody Mizelle, L-R
OF â€“ Kim Whaley, C-N
Utility â€“ Kayla Myers, Cat.
DP â€“ Amber Duncan, Ander.
C â€“ Brittany Barrineau, Win.
P â€“ Emily Huneycutt, Cat.
P â€“ Elizabeth Johnson, Tus.
1B â€“ Allison Justice, Cat.
2B â€“ Ashley Roof, New.
SS â€“ Bridget Eicher, Lin. Mem.
3B â€“ Haily Jarman, L-R
OF â€“ Ashley McCurry, M. Hill
OF â€“ Ashley Burke, Tus.
OF â€“ Brittany Fowler, Brev.
Utility â€“ Chelsi Mallory, Brev.
DP â€“ Emily Boykin, Brev.