AUGUSTA, GA - The North Georgia Saints have been
selected as the team to beat in the 2010 softball season in a poll
of the league’s head coaches released yesterday afternoon
from the league office.
The Saints received nine of a possible 10 first-place votes to finish with 99 points, outdistancing Francis Marion in second place. Augusta State and GCSU were tied for third while Armstrong Atlantic State was fifth, one point ahead of USC Aiken in sixth. Spots two through six were separated by five points.
This marks the second straight season North Georgia has been picked as the preseason favorite after proving the voters right a year ago as the squad posted a 17-1 mark in Peach Belt Conference play to claim the program’s first-ever PBC Championship.
North Georgia returns eight starters from the 2009 team, including PBC Pitcher of the Year and All-American Sarah Phillips in the circle, while All-Americans Leslee Smith and Courtney McGuire will enter their senior seasons after combining to crush 21 home runs last year.
After completing their most successful season in school history that saw the club claim the top ranking in the nation before advancing to the program’s first-ever World Series, the Saints return a group of key players from a year ago and will look to repeat as Peach Belt Champions, PBC Tournament Champions, and Southeast Regional Champions.
Head Coach Mike Davenport returns for his 10th season and is coming off PBC Coach of the Year and Southeast Region Coach of the Year honors, as the Saints will take on some tough non-conference competition, including a pair of doubleheaders against last year’s National runner-up, Alabama-Huntsville.
North Georgia opens the season at home the second week of February, hosting the Captain D’s Classic and welcoming Northern Kentucky, Valdosta State, and Delta State to town for the weekend.
The Saints will open their defense of the Peach Belt Conference regular season championship with a road trip to Francis Marion and UNC Pembroke the first week in March.
Several changes are in store for the 2010 season including the addition of Flagler College, coached by Kristen Overton. The PBC Tournament format has also changed, with only the top eight teams advancing to the championship April 16-18 in Florence, South Carolina, hosted for the third straight year by Francis Marion University at Freedom Florence Park. The Saints are 8-2 all-time in the PBC Tournament, playing in the final game of the tournament each of the last two years.
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