COLUMBIA, Ky. — The University of Rio Grande has been picked to finish sixth in the 2014 Mid-South Conference preseason coaches’ poll, released Monday by conference officials.
The RedStorm received 39 points in the balloting of the league’s head coaches, who were not permitted to vote for their own team.
Head coach Kristen Bradshaw returns just three full-time starters from last year’s squad, which finished 22-19 overall and 11-15 in the MSC.
Leading the list of returnees is junior outfielder Haley Gwin (Troy, OH), who batted .374 with a team-high 10 home runs and 31 runs batted in last season.
Among those lost from last year’s team were first team All-MSC outfielder Kaylee Walk, who led the team in a number of offensive categories, and second team All-MSC pitcher Kimber Hazlett, who left to attend school closer to home after a promising freshman season that saw her post a 16-10 record with a 2.86 earned run average and 151 strikeouts in 181-1/3 innings.
Lindsey Wilson (Ky.), which has won at least a share of the conference’s regular season title each of the last four seasons, topped the list by receiving 75 voting points from the conference coaches. The Blue Raiders received six of the 10 first-place votes.
Campbellsville (Ky.) was a close second in the preseason poll with 74 voting points and two first-place votes, while Cumberland (Tenn.) took third in the preseason poll with 64 voting points and the final two first-place votes.
Georgetown (Ky.) was fourth with 61 voting points and Shawnee State (Ohio) was fifth with 51 points.
Following Rio Grande in the balloting was St. Catharine (Ky.) (32 voting points), Pikeville (Ky.) (27), Cumberlands (Ky.) (18) and Bluefield (Va.) (9).
The 2014 MSC softball season begins next month and the conference tournament is scheduled for April 30-May 2 at Millennium Park in Danville, Ky.