January 27, 2010

Softball Ranked #2 in NFCA Preseason Top 25

Complete Poll

DAHLONEGA, GA – The National Fastpitch Coaches Association has released the 2010 NCAA Division II preseason top 25 poll and North Georgia was selected #2 in the country, the Saints highest preseason ranking in school history.

The NFCA Division II Top 25 is voted on by 16 NCAA Division II head coaches, two representing each of the eight NCAA regions. The first 2010 regular season poll will be released on Wednesday, March 3.

Alabama-Huntsville picked up 14 of the possible 16 first place votes for 398 total points, while North Georgia followed with 375 points, and Winona State was third with 345 points. Dixie State and Indianapolis, both 2009 World Series participants, rounded out the top five.

Four meetings are scheduled between the top two teams in the country as Alabama-Huntsville will travel to Dahlonega for a doubleheader on March 10, before the Saints will head west to take on the Chargers for another double dip set for March 30.

The schedule does not get any easer from their for the Saints who have games slated against four other teams in the top 25, including three top 10 teams. North Georgia will host 6th ranked Valdosta State in a pair of games the second weekend of the season at the Captain D’s Classic, before traveling to take on 5th ranked Indianapolis at the UAH Charger Chillout. North Georgia will then host 7th-ranked LeMoyne the second week in March for a doubleheader, and will host 13th-ranked USC Aiken in conference action on March 18.

North Georgia was one of two Peach Belt Conference teams ranked in the top 25 as USC Aiken came in at #13 after advancing to their first-ever Southeast Regional Tournament last season. The Pacers handed the Saints their only conference loss last season. Carson-Newman, North Georgia’s opponent in the Southeast Super Regional, is the only other team from the Southeast Region ranked in the poll.

The national ranking comes less than a week after the Saints were being picked to win the Peach Belt Conference by the league’s head coaches for the second consecutive season. North Georgia stormed through the PBC regular season in 2009 with a 17-1 mark to claim their first-ever regular season title and posted a perfect 4-0 mark to capture the PBC Tournament Championship.

The Saints miracle season that saw the team host and come away victorious in the Southeast Dahlonega Regional and Super Regional won their first two games in the NCAA Division II College World Series to post a 27-game winning streak that spanned over two months as North Georgia ended the season with a record of 50-5, the best mark in school history.

North Georgia spent every week of the 2009 season in the NFCA Division II top 25, debuting last year at #11 in the preseason ranking, before moving up to the top five by week three, and making their first appearance as the nation’s top team in the 11th poll of the season on May 6, 2009. The Saints were ranked third in the final poll of the season the year, as National Champion Lock Haven was the unanimous favorite, followed by Alabama-Huntsville.

North Georgia opens the season on the road the first weekend of February at the Aiken Early Bird Tournament, before playing their home opener the following weekend, hosting the Captain D’s Classic and welcoming Northern Kentucky, Valdosta State, and Delta State to town for two days.

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.

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.

Come out and meet the #2 team in the nation as a softball preseason shows will take place on Tuesday, February 2, 2010, at 7:00 p.m. live from Roosters Cafe in Dahlonega as 10th year head coach Mike Davenport and selected players will be on hand to join the show and speak with selected members of the media.

Fans are encouraged to attend, meet their favorite athlete, and pick up a free autographed poster at the event. Fans can also have their picture taken with North Georgia players and the 2009 NCAA Regional Championship Trophy.

Stay tuned, as the sports information office will release the 2010 edition of the North Georgia softball media guide tomorrow morning at www.SaintsSports.com.

Can’t get enough Saints softball? Click HERE to access the 2010 desktop wallpaper.