ROCK HILL, S.C. – South Atlantic Conference softball coaches have voted Carson-Newman fourth in the preseason poll.
The Eagles finished 2012 34-22, 10-8 in the league. That was good enough for a fourth place finish.
"Hopefully we're not going to finish fourth," Carson-Newman head softball coach Vickee Kazee-Hollifield said. "I don't put a lot of weight on the polls, however, that's what the coaches think. We're just going to go to work because we've got a lot of work to do."
Carson-Newman will have to replace all-conference pitcher Mary Shealey. Shealey led the SAC with 34 wins last season. She pitched in all 56 games last year for C-N, starting 54. Her 351 innings in the circle last year were the most in the SAC by 60 innings.
"Losing Mary, we lose a workhorse in the circle," Kazee-Hollifield said. "We'll go to a rotation this year. You don't see many ladies that can go out with that type of endurance day in and day out."
The Eagles do return potent bats in the order. Back are junior third and first basemen Sara Kelley (Birchwood, Tenn.) and Caitlyn Lance (East Ridge, Tenn.), both of whom landed on the preseason all-SAC second team. Bri Shoemake (Ooltewah, Tenn.) is back at catcher after leading the Eagles in at bats, hits, doubles and RBI.
"Lance, Kelley and Shoemake have been in the trenches since their freshman year," Kazee-Hollifield said. "They've started nearly every game they've been here. That'll give us a solid backbone offensively."
The Eagles take the field Saturday for a doubleheader against Belmont Abbey beginning at 1 p.m.