Lynchburg Tops Tight Softball Poll
Five Teams Receive First Place Votes, Quakers Get Five
FOREST, Va. --- Only 12 points separate the top
four teams, with five squads receiving first place consideration,
in the 2011 ODAC Softball Preseason Poll. Lynchburg College
earned a pair of first place votes on the way to collecting 85
total poll points to head the annual survey of the league’s
coaches. Roanoke College got one top nod and 80 tallies to
place second. Guilford College received the most first place
votes with five, helping the Quakers to the third position with 77
Bridgewater College’s 73 points and one top choice sit fourth with Virginia Wesleyan College rounding out the top five with 66 markers. Reigning ODAC champion Eastern Mennonite University received the remaining first place vote towards 58 points and the sixth position.
The 2010 season saw a first in any sport in the ODAC as Eastern Mennonite won the conference tournament title from the No. 8 seed, marking the first time a tournament’s bottom seed won an ODAC title. The Royals took the shortest route to get there, posting a 4-0 record en route to the program’s second conference crown. EMU traveled to Christopher Newport University for the opening rounds of the NCAA Division III Tournament. The Royals lost their first two games to Salisbury University (4-0) and Greensboro College (7-3), eliminating them from the tourney field.
Lynchburg welcomes back four of its five all-conference performers from a season ago as the Hornets go in search of their seventh league title. Leading the way are a pair of All-ODAC First Team choices in pitcher Katie Bruce and shortstop Taylor Walker. Bruce was second in the conference in wins (15) and innings pitched (146.2), third in earned run average (2.72) and appearances (29) and fifth in opponent’s batting average (.250). She also batted .339 with six homers and 29 runs batted in. Walker hit at a .346 clip with three homers and 24 RBI. All-ODAC Second Team selection Sarah Smith (.308, 13 RBI) returns to second base and is joined by All-ODAC Honorable Mention catcher/first baseman Meagan Fredenberg (.264, 3 HR, 18 RBI). Also back for LC is catcher Ashley Hohenberger (.274, 18 RBI) and third baseman Rachel Gallagher (.250, 4 HR, 23 RBI).
Roanoke also features a quartet of all-conference returners, including a trio of first teamers. Reigning ODAC Rookie of the Year, Leona Rainey, placed in the top-five in the ODAC in several categories including stolen bases (1st; 30), batting average (3rd; .466) and on-base percentage (3rd; .530). Designated player Lisa Scruggs (.379, 4 HR, 26 RBI) and utility Hollee Warlitner (.371, 5 HR, 34 RBI) complete the first team group. Second team pitcher Abi Rexrode also ranked highly in several areas including hits allowed (2nd; 69), runs allowed (2nd; 40), opponent batting average (3rd; .225) and walks (3rd; 23). Shortstop Sara Caudle led the team with eight homers in 2010.
Guilford welcomes the return of first team outfielder Kimberly Keys. She was second in the ODAC in hits (63), fourth in batting (.463) and fifth in RBI (46). She’s joined by fellow outfielder Courtney Kozar (.403, 28 RBI, 12 SB) and infielder Julie Langseth (.372, 10 2B, 36 RBI), who led the ODAC with 10 homeruns. Top pitchers Jessica Burcham (10-6, 3.66) and Shelby Bowser (10-3, 3.91) return to the circle. Burcham was third in the ODAC with 101 strikeouts in 99.1 innings, while Bowser walked just 24 batters in 91.1 innings, good for fourth in the league.
Bridgewater returns five All-ODAC honorees including first team third baseman Lauren Childress (.359, 12 2B, 31 RBI). She’s joined by a trio of second teamers in shortstop Leah Cossentino (.390, 10 2B, 23 RBI), outfielder Aven Thomas (.342, 4 HR, 29 RBI) and designated player Emily Morris, who ranked in the top-five in homers (t-2nd; 9), slugging percentage (3rd; .737), hits (t-4th; 57), RBI (4th; 47), runs scored (4th; 42), and on-base percentage (5th; .500). First baseman Angela Spinelli (.414, 4 HR, 37 RBI) was an honorable mention choice in 2010. Infielder Hillary Rees (.353, 4 HR, 29 RBI) was tied for second in runs scored (47) and third in stolen bases (15).
Virginia Wesleyan must replace the services of ODAC Pitcher of the Year, Brittaney Brown, in 2011. Righty Christina Crawford is the top returning arm after going 8-1 with a 2.40 ERA in 73 innings. She struck out 100 batters, which ranked fourth in the ODAC. Completing the battery will be first team catcher Jaclyn Quinn, who led the ODAC in runs scored (51), RBI (53), doubles (tied at 19), and slugging percentage (.803). She was also fourth in on-base percentage (.510) and hits (tied at 57) and fifth in batting (.432). Honorable mention shortstop Brianna Bertovich (.372, 11 2B) was second in RBI with 48.
Eastern Mennonite will look to second team utility player Lisa Lee both in the circle and at the plate. A member of the 2010 ODAC All-Tournament Team, Lee won four games and posted a 3.72 ERA in 73.1 innings as a pitcher. At the plate, she hit .400 with 10 doubles, five homers and 25 RBI. She’s joined by fellow second team choice, outfielder Jessica Blosser (.405, 10 2B, 3 HR, 22 RBI). Also back are infielders Sara Jenkins (.324, 18 RBI) and Courtney Allman (.304, 6 HR, 36 RBI).
Randolph-Macon Is led by a pair of All-ODAC players in first team first baseman Laura Bauer and honorable mention third baseman Paige Smith. Bauer led the team with a .393 batting average and was one of five players in the ODAC to tie for second with nine homers. She was also second with a .753 slugging percentage. Smith smacked nine long balls as well at hit at a .337 clip for the season. Lefty Heather Lewis returns to the circle as the Yellow Jackets’ top arm. She was fourth in the ODAC with a 2.78 ERA, going 9-6 in 93 innings. She walked only 12 batters, the fewest in the league.
Randolph and Emory & Henry are both under new leadership in 2011. Former Lynchburg All-American, Caroline Cubbage, takes over the reins at Randolph. She’ll benefit from the return of second team outfielder Brittany Willingham, who led the ODAC with a .517 batting average, 76 hits and 19 doubles (tied). She was second in on-base percentage (.558) and runs scored (47, tied) and fourth in slugging percentage (.721) and stolen bases (14, tied). The WildCats also welcome back outfielder Lauren Stevenson (.375, 11 SB) and pitchers Shelbie West (7-5, 4.27 in 75.1 IP) and Ashley Gardner (6-6, 5.64 in 72.0 IP).
Jack Jordan makes his return to the ODAC as the Wasps mentor after posting a 170-58 record in six years at Virginia Wesleyan from 1986-90. Emory & Henry features honorable mention shortstop Ashley Ebersole, who hit .365 with four homers and 14 RBI in 2010. Also back is Sierra Waters (.280, 5 2B) and Anne Saville (.282, 3 2B).
Sweet Briar will look to pitcher Anna Newberg to carry the load after appearing in 27 games last season, the fourth most in the conference. Third baseman Jordan Pugh (.242, 23 hits) also returns for the 2011 campaign.
Listed below is the complete 2011 ODAC Softball Preseason Poll. For more information, visit the websites of any of the participating schools, or go to the ODAC’s home on the Internet at www.odaconline.com.
2011 ODAC SOFTBALL PRESEASON POLL
(#) Denotes First Place Votes
|1. Lynchburg (2)||85 pts.|
|2. Roanoke (1)||80 pts.|
|3. Guilford (5)||77 pts.|
|4. Bridgewater (1)||73 pts.|
|5. Virginia Wesleyan||66 pts.|
|6. Eastern Mennonite (1)||58 pts.|
|7. Randolph-Macon||50 pts.|
|8. Randolph||31 pts.|
|9. Emory & Henry||17 pts.|
|10. Sweet Briar||13 pts.|