FORT MYERS, Fla. – The FGCU softball team was selected fourth in the Atlantic Sun Conference preseason coaches’ poll, the league announced Thursday. Lipscomb earned top billing, edging out USC Upstate and Kennesaw State. Senior outfielder Courtney Platt (Naples, Fla./Gulf Coast) represented the Eagles on the preseason All-Conference team.
“I am actually pleasantly surprised that the coaches in our conference ranked us so high. We are probably the least experienced group with 15 of our 20 players being underclassmen,” said head coach David Deiros. “The A-Sun is one of the better softball conferences in the country as evidenced by our RPI rank of 11 out of 29 last season. We look forward to the challenge of trying to meet and exceed these expectations.”
Platt received a nod to the preseason All-Conference team after posting a .311 average in 2010. The Naples, Fla., product finished with 31 RBI, 83 total bases and 42 hits. Platt also notched with a .615 slugging percentage, a .475 on-base percentage, 40 walks, 12 doubles, nine homers and 31 runs scored, which were all top-10 in the conference.
“Congratulations to Courtney—the recognition is well-deserved,” said Deiros. “I think she is one of the best outfielders and hitters in the country. She is going to have a great senior season.”
Sophomores Mariah Fernandez (Cape Coral, Fla./North Fort Myers) and Tiffani Upchurch (Lake Wales, Fla./Lake Wales) who were named to the All-Freshmen Team last season, join Platt as the top returners for FGCU. The duo started every game and combined to hit nine home runs with 47 RBI. Senior Catherine McDaniel (Melbourne, Fla./Florida Tech) returns to the circle as the top pitcher and has a 2.49 career ERA, which is good for fourth in the FGCU record book.
Like it has in each of its first three seasons in Division I, FGCU opens its season on the road at a USF-hosted tournament in Tampa, Fla. The Eagles play a five-game stint from Feb. 11-13 and will face N.C. State (Feb. 11), No. 5 Florida (Feb. 11), Marshall (Feb. 12), USF (Feb. 12) and Long Island (Feb. 13) during the three-day span.
Player of the Year
Jessica Cross, Kennesaw State
Pitcher of the Year
Whitney Kiihnl, Lipscomb
Preseason Coaches Poll (First Place Votes)
1. Lipscomb (8)
2. USC Upstate (2)
3. Kennesaw State (1)
Tournament Champion: Lipscomb (7 votes)
Preseason All-Conference Team
Catcher – Mollie Mitchell, Lipscomb*
Infield – Courtney Billington, Lipscomb*
Infield – Chelsea Trotto, Stetson
Infield – Ashley Burkett, Kennesaw State
Infield – Katie Kelley, Jacksonville
Outfield – Kayla Ouellet, Jacksonville
Outfield – Sarah Forgacs, Campbell
Outfield – Courtney Platt, FGCU
Designated Player – Jessica Cross, Kennesaw State
Pitcher – Whitney Kiihnl, Lipscomb*
Pitcher – Morgan Childers, USC Upstate*
*-Denotes Unanimous Selection