CHARLOTTE, N.C. (BigSouthSports.com) – Charleston Southern was selected fourth overall in the Big South Conference Softball Preseason Coaches' Poll as announced by the league office on Wednesday afternoon. The Buccaneers received 37 points and one first-place vote in the poll.
"I'm excited about the release of the preseason poll because it means Opening Day is right around the corner," said CSU Head Coach Shane Winkler. "This group has a ton of potential and we have a lot of experience returning to the field. We are challenging ourselves with a demanding preseason schedule that is going to have us ready to compete for a Big South Championship."
The Bucs' roster features a fairly balanced mix of 14 upperclassmen and 12 underclassmen, including six players from the 2014 Big South Championship run that earned the program's first berth into the NCAA postseason. Seniors Ashtin Kullnat, Stephanie Bergmann, Georgi DeLio, Lexie Vanada, Brittany McPherson, Stevi Johnson and 2016 Big South All-Conference Second Team selection Amanda Matsumoto will return to lead CSU's 2017 roster.
For the second year in a row since joining the Big South four seasons ago, two-time defending champion Longwood University has been voted the Big South Conference's preseason favorite by the league's Head Softball Coaches. The Lancers received 60 points and four first-place votes in the poll. In addition, the coaches voted Campbell senior Amber Schisler the conference's Preseason Player of the Year and Longwood senior Elizabeth McCarthy the league's Preseason Pitcher of the Year.
Liberty was second in the poll with 52 points and one first-place vote, while Campbell was third with 45 points and one first-place vote. Charleston Southern was picked fourth with 37 points and one first-place nod. Radford was chosen fifth with 34 points, with Presbyterian College landing in the sixth spot with 26 points. Winthrop garnered seventh-place (20 points and the remaining first-place vote), followed by Gardner-Webb (eighth, 14 points).
The 2017 Big South softball season begins Thursday, February 9, while the first conference meeting is set for the weekend of March 17-19. The 2017 Big South Softball Championship tournament is slated for May 10-13, and the six-team postseason event will be hosted by Longwood University in Farmville, Va.