Coming off of its turnaround 2016 season, the Radford softball team was picked fifth in the Big South Conference’s annual preseason poll, announced by the league on Wednesday.
The fifth-place position is the highest preseason placement for the Highlanders since 2013. Radford earned 34 points in the voting by the league’s head coaches, finishing just three points behind fourth-place Charleston Southern.
Two-time defending champion Longwood is again the favorite, earning four first-place votes and 60 points. Liberty was second with 52 points and Campbell placed third with 45 points. Longwood’s Elizabeth McCarthy, the Pitcher of the Year each of the last two seasons, earned the preseason award, while Campbell’s Amber Schisler was selected the Preseason Player of the Year.
All-Big South honorees Abby Morrow and Marissa Gagliano lead seven returning starters from last year’s Highlander squad that won 35 games and advanced to the Big South Tournament semifinals. Morrow, who led the conference in ERA, shutouts, complete games and innings pitched during the 2016 regular season, placed third in the Preseason Pitcher of the Year voting, receiving one first-place vote. Joining the returners are a trio who sat out last season and a talented freshmen group of seven.
Radford begins the 2017 campaign the weekend of Feb. 17-19 at the Chattanooga Challenge, facing both IUPUI and the host school on the opening day.
2017 Big South Softball Preseason Poll
Rank School (First-Place Votes) Points
1 Longwood (4) 60
2 Liberty (1) 52
3 Campbell (1) 45
4 Charleston Southern (1) 37
5 Radford 34
6 Presbyterian 26
7 Winthrop (1) 20
8 Gardner-Webb 14
— Courtesy of RU Athletics