The USA South Athletic Conference's softball coaches have released their 2019 preseason polls, and Maryville College was picked to repeat as the conference's Western Division Champions.
Each divisional preseason poll only includes votes from coaches within that particular division-only. Head coaches do not vote for their own teams in the balloting, as the Scots received each of the other eight first-place votes on the Western Division side.
"We are honored to have the conference recognize the culture we have built at Maryville College," Head Coach Leah Kelley said. "This is the first time we have been picked preseason No. 1, but our program recognizes this is based off last year's results. This is a new year, but a familiar team with the same goal: Play to a Standard. Team 34 is ready to continue building off a record-breaking season while also making a name for themselves."
Maryville College, under the direction of Kelley, are the defending USA South West Division and Tournament Champions and were picked to capture the West Division title. The Scots received 64 total points and eight first place votes.
MC finished as Runners-up in the NCAA Atlanta Regional, as they return a majority of last season's squad.
"Sixteen of the 20 have played this game on one of the biggest stages," Kelley said. "They are experienced, and our senior leadership is unbelievable. Our lineup and our defense will look very familiar to our competitors. Team 34 will come ready to compete every game."
Placing second in the poll with 57 points and the final first place vote was Piedmont College. Covenant College followed in third place with 46 points while Huntingdon College was close behind with 45 points in fourth.
Pfeiffer University, under the direction of Head Coach Monte Sherrill was picked to be the East Division favorite. The Falcons received 63 total points and seven place votes. Defending East Division regular season champion, Salem College, placed second in the rankings with 50 points and one first place vote. N.C. Wesleyan College came in third with 47 points, followed by Meredith College who grabbed 42 points and the final first place vote.
The USA South welcomed Brevard College and Pfeiffer University last season. These two institutions are currently reclassifying from NCAA Division II status but this year are included in the preseason poll and eligible for regular season championship honors. Brevard and Pfeiffer still will not be eligible for USA South or NCAA Tournament play until full DIII membership is established.
The 2019 USA South Softball Tournament will feature the top-six teams from each division and begin April 19-20. The top-three seeds from each division will host best-of-three series. The winners of those series will advance to a six-team double-elimination tournament which will be played April 26-28 at the Shuford Softball Complex in LaGrange, Georgia as a part of the USA South Spring Sports Festival, hosted by the City of LaGrange and Troup County.