The SFA softball team has been chosen to capture the 2020 Southland Conference championship in the recently completed Southland Preseason Coaches Poll as voted on by the league’s coaches and media relation directors, according to a release from the conference office on Wednesday.
SFA received 11 of the 24 possible first-place votes and 217 votes overall, edging out rival Sam Houston State (210 overall, 10 first-place votes) for the top spot. McNeese (202 votes), Nicholls (186 votes) and Southeastern Louisiana (177 votes) rounded out the top five.
SFA returns 14 players from last season, including three Preseason All-Conference selections in Kassidy Wilbur (first team), Ashley Kriesel (second team) and Bryana Novegil (second team).
The Ladyjacks, who begin the season Feb. 7, tied for the league lead with three players on the preseason rosters, led by sophomore first-team pitcher Kassidy Wilbur. Wilbur will look to build upon her Southland Freshman of the Year season when she ranked second in the league with 256 strikeouts over 229.2 innings and a .206 opposing batting average. She is joined by fellow pitcher and second-team selection Ashley Kriesel,who tallied a 2.43 ERA and a 14-6 record with 169 strikeouts with just a .214 opposing batting average.
Novegil also earned automatic preseason distinctions after helping the SFA squad to an 18-9 Southland record last year. The lefty hitter compiled a .305 batting average with a team-high 35 runs and 58 hits.
SFA begins play in the 2020 softball season on at the ULM Tournament, where they face Southern in the season opener.
Coaches and SIDs Poll (first place votes)
1. Stephen F. Austin (11) 217
2. Sam Houston State (10) 210
3. McNeese (1) 202
4. Nicholls (2) 186
5. Southeastern Louisiana 177
6. Northwestern State 152
7. Central Arkansas 122
8. Lamar 110
9. Abilene Christian 61
10. Houston Baptist 56
11. Texas A&M-CC 52
12. UIW 39