The Valdosta Daily Times
LOUISVILLE, Ky. —
The Valdosta State softball team will start the 2013 season where the team left off in the 2012 season — No. 1. The Blazers topped the National Fastpitch Coaches Association Division II preseason poll, which was released by the Association on Wednesday.
Despite losing eight seniors, including the national championship team’s entire infield, VSU received all 16 possible first-place votes to be the unanimous selection.
After Valdosta State was 2012 national runner-up UC San Diego, followed by Kutztown, Angelo State and Southern Connecticut to round out the top five. The Blazers tore through all but Angelo State in last season’s title run.
No other Gulf South Conference school made the top 25, but longtime power Alabama-Huntsville did receive a vote. Other regional rivals that were recognized were No. 8 Tampa, No. 13 Rollins and No. 19 Barry.
This season Valdosta State returns the team’s top two hitters, outfielders Courtney Albritton and Morgan Johnson along with catcher Ashley Steinhilber. The rest of the starting positions will be manned by new faces, but look to Sarah Vaughn, Fran Johnson and Angela O’Connor as returners who should receive some new opportunities.
The team starts its season in Pensacola, Fla., this weekend with doubleheaders against Southern Arkansas at 4 p.m. Saturday and Young Harris at 10 a.m. Sunday. Valdosta State has its home opener against Georgia Southwestern at 2 p.m. Feb. 12.