Softball: Panthers fifth in USA South preseason coaches poll

Senior Olivia Wolfe had a 14-7 record pitching and set a school record with eight home runs.
Senior Olivia Wolfe had a 14-7 record pitching and set a school record with eight home runs.

Coming off the school's second best season in the NCAA era, the LaGrange softball team is picked fifth in the USA South preseason coaches poll as announced by the conference.

The Panthers, under coach Jennifer Claybrook, finished 2014 with an overall 28-14 record that included an 11-11 mark in USA South play. The Panthers also finished third for the second straight season in the conference championship tournament.

Senior Olivia Wolfe was 14-7 last season with a 1.73 ERA. At the plate, she hit a school record eight home runs and drove in 24 runs. Junior Dani Gravett earned USA South All-Conference honors after leading the team with a .369 batting average. She was also 6-5 on the mound.

Sophomore catcher Alison Jiles hit seven home runs and led the team with 34 RBIs, while batting .331. Junior pitcher Kara Patterson was 7-1 with a 1.42 ERA and led the team with four saves.

Piedmont College was picked in the preseason coaches' poll to win the 2015 USA South Athletic Conference softball title. The Lions are the defending USA South regular season and tournament champions, becoming the first softball team since 2009 to capture both titles in the same season. The Lions received 11 of 13 first place votes and 141 points as head coaches do not vote for their own teams in the balloting.

Averett University finished second in the voting with 131 points and the final two first place votes. Placing third in the poll with 120 points was last season's tournament runners-up, Huntingdon College while Ferrum College came in fourth with 105 points. LaGrange College ranked fifth with 90 points and was followed in sixth by Greensboro College who grabbed 78 points.

The Panthers open the 2015 season Feb. 20 at Judson (Ala.) College.

The 2015 USA South Softball Tournament will be played April 17-19 at the Rocky Mount Sports Complex as a part of the USA South Spring Sports Festival in Rocky Mount, N.C.

2015 USA South Softball Preseason Coaches Poll

Rank

Institution (1st Place Votes)

Pts.

1.

Piedmont (11)

141

2.

Averett (2)

131

3.

Huntingdon

120

4.

Ferrum

105

5.

LaGrange

90

6.

Greensboro

78

7.

N.C. Wesleyan

71

8.

Meredith

70

9.

William Peace

63

10.

Methodist

62

11.

Covenant

37

12.

Maryville

34

13.

Mary Baldwin

12