CHARLOTTE, N.C. (www.BigSouthSports.com) – Defending Big South Conference Tournament Champion Charleston Southern was selected fourth in the Big South Preseason Coaches' Poll as announced today by the conference office.
The Buccaneers received 51 points and a first place vote in the poll after sweeping through the 2014 Big South Tournament on their way to their first NCAA Tournament berth in program history.
"The release off the preseason poll means we are less than 10 days until the season opener," said CSU head coach Shane Winkler. "I couldn't be more excited about the 2015 season. We finished last year on a high by winning a championship and I believe that has raised our confidence and expectation levels as a team and we're expecting big things from this group this season."
For the third consecutive year, Coastal Carolina University's softball team has been voted the Big South Conference's preseason favorite. Coastal received five of the nine first-place votes and 77 total points as the favorite to win the Big South crown in 2015. The Chants were the regular-season champion for the second consecutive season in 2014 and finished runner-up in the Big South Tournament.
Longwood was second in the preseason poll with 71 points and two first-place votes -- its highest position in the preseason ranking since joining the Big South three years ago. Campbell was picked third with 57 points (one first-place vote), while Winthrop was chosen fifth with 48 points, with Radford landing in the sixth spot with 36 points. Presbyterian College garnered seventh-place (28 points), followed by Liberty (eighth, 23 points) and Gardner-Webb (ninth, 14 points).
"This might be the tightest the conference has ever been from top to bottom," Winkler commented. "It will be fun being a part of a conference season where not only every game matters, but more importantly where every pitch matters."
Led by returning Big South Tournament MVP in sophomore right-hander Cheyenne Gandara, the Bucs roster features six sophomores who lined up in over 30 games last season. Returning seniors Jennifer Giles and Marci Christian also return to provide experience and power for the Bucs in the circle and at the plate.
The Buccaneers host four home tournaments this spring and make trips to South Carolina and Cal State Fullerton among the schedule highlights for the season. Home conference clashes against Gardner-Webb, Winthrop, Liberty and Coastal Carolina are also on the slate for the Bucs this year at the CSU Softball Field.
CSU opens up the season next weekend as the Bucs host their first CSU Tournament running from February 6-8 against Southern Illinois, Ohio State and UMBC. The Bucs open up the regular season on February 6th with first pitch against UMBC scheduled for 2 p.m.
The 2015 Big South softball season begins Thursday, February 5, while the first Conference meeting is set for the weekend of March 13-15. The 2015 Big South Softball Championship tournament is slated for May 7-11 and will be hosted by Campbell University in Buies Creek, N.C.