Thomasville, NC- The Coker College women’s softball team has been voted the preseason favorite by head coaches throughout the Carolinas-Virginia Athletics Conference.  Coker finished the 2005 season at 31-17 with a 16-4 conference finish. The Cobras finished the regular season at the top of the CVAC to take the regular season championship and also took the top spot at the conference tournament, defeating Queen's University of Charlotte to claim the championship and automatic bid to the NCAA South Atlantic Regional. Coker returns nine starters including 1st Team All-Conference performers Jacque Stewart, Amanda Shelton and Somer Bigham, and 2nd Team member Christan Moribito. Shelton and Bigham will again anchor the Coker pitching staff, while Stewart, Moribito and Jessica Blackwell will be counted on to lead the Cobra offense. Coach David Hanna had five freshmen join his squad in the fall, and he hopes for big things out of them in the future.


            The Queens University of Charlotte softball team is returning 11 players off of last year’s roster. The depth and experience combined with a talented freshmen class could bring great things for the upcoming year.  The Royals are led defensively by two 2nd Team All-CVAC selections from last season.  Senior shortstop Erin Crager and Outfielder Danielle Woodford will guide the Royals campaign to return the CVAC Conference Championship.  Coach Ochoa’s depth will be key for this season; a balanced pitching rotation from 2005 returns, including Jennifer Churchill who was also a 2nd Team All-CVAC member and Meg Barker who earned 2005 CVAC All-Tournament Team honors.  On the offensive side of the ball, Queens has good speed and 5 eager freshmen that plan to make immediate contributions.  The Royals are coming off a great season earning a 2nd place finish at the CVAC Championship by losing to Coker in the tournament finals. The preseason ranking marks the first of such kind for Coach Ochoa in his 3 year coaching career at Queens University of Charlotte.


            Belmont Abbey gets the nod for 3rd place in the preseason poll.  In returning three NCAA All-Southeast Region players in Leigh Carter, Amy Sturch and Jessica Inman and CVAC All-Conference member Abby Threatt, there is reason for the Belmont Abbey women’s softball team to set lofty goals for this upcoming season. Also returning are three year starters Cameron Greene, Kelly Schafer, and Sara Rodgers.  Although the team lost two CVAC All-Conference players from last year’s team, the Crusaders have added three transfers and five freshmen to their lineup. Erica Rutledge was a first-team all-conference player at Peace College, while Danielle Dodd and Angie Sowell round out the transfers. Carrie Markham and Katie Hobbs will also make significant impacts as new freshmen on the team.


                 Rounding out the softball preseason poll 4-12 were:  Erskine, Limestone, Anderson, Mount Olive, Pfeiffer, Barton, St. Andrews, and Lees-McRae respectively.


Carolinas-Virginia Athletics Conference Pre-Season Coaches Poll

(First place votes in parenthesis)

1.             Coker College                                      (9)                           11           

2.             Queens University of Charlotte         (2)                           26

3.             Belmont Abbey College                                                       27

4.             Erskine College                                                                    38

5.             Limestone College                                                               43

6.             Anderson University                                                            58

7.             Mount Olive College                                                           70

8.             Pfeiffer University                                                                72

9.             Barton College                                                                     82

10.           St. Andrews Presbyterian College                                     84

11.           Lees-McRae College                                                            94