DURANT, Okla. - After climbing to a No. 2 national ranking a
season ago from being unranked, Southeastern will have less of a hill to
climb to match that number this season after earning a No. 10 ranking
in the NFCA Preseason Poll released on Wednesday.
The Savage Storm posted a 45-9 record a season ago, climbing to No. 2 in the nation, but saw its season come to a premature end with a pair of losses in the Central Regional in Mankato, Minn.
The No. 10 preseason mark is the first preseason national ranking for the SE softball team since opening the 2009 season ranked No. 8.
The Storm return its two All-Great American Conference pitchers in GAC Pitcher of the Year Jacee Bennett and GAC Newcomer of the Year Mindy McElroy.
Bennett put together a 21-5 record on the year with a 2.71 ERA and 188 strikeouts, while McElroy kept pace with a 22-3 record to go with a 1.77 ERA and 97 K's.
Bennett and McElroy were each also named All-Central Region honorees, as was Courtney Riddle who will also be returning to the lineup in 2014.
Riddle leads a group of four returning all-conference honorees in the field, along with Jessica Simmons, Laramie Beal and Lacie Cook.
Riddle led the team with a .420 batting average with 13 extra base hits and 31 RBI.
Simmons posted a .351 average and scored 48 runs and posted 35 stolen bases, while Cook turned in a .335 average with 12 doubles and 24 RBI, and Beal hit .311 and led the team in home runs with seven.
Despite returning all but four members from last year's squad, the Storm have also added a bevy of newcomers, with eight new additions to the roster.
Southeastern opens the 2014 season on Feb. 1 when they open play at the St. Mary's tournament against Texas-Permian Basin at 10 am., and will come home to open play in Durant on Feb. 7 when the Durant Multi-Sport Complex hosts the Southeastern Regional Invitational.