Diamond Blossoms sixth in GAC preseason poll
The University of Arkansas at Monticello softball team has been picked sixth overall in the 2017 Great American Conference preseason poll, released by the conference on Tuesday.
The Blossoms are coming off a 30-28 (24-20 GAC) finish a season ago, with a fifth place regular season finish in the GAC. UAM was defeated in the GAC Championship Tournament during the first round after losses to Harding University and Southern Nazarene University.
UAM has 11 returners to the 2017 squad, including many 2016 starters from a year ago—seniors McKenzie Rice, Korie Parker, Kendra Coleman and Allison Stipes, juniors Skyler Anderson, Ashton Currey, Alyson Finnigan and Mallory McWhorter and sophomores Kali Bolter and Paisley Pratt.
Junior Aubree Head and sophomore Megan Moore return to the team in 2017 as well.
Rice led UAM offensively in 2016 as she finished with a .339 batting average and started and played in all 58 games. She totaled 13 home runs, 32 runs batted in and led the Blossoms in total runs scored with 43, and led the team in stolen bases with seven overall.
Coleman, Finnigan, McWhorter and Pratt return to anchor the Arkansas-Monticello pitching staff, with 47 appearances combined between them in 2016, and nine total starts combined as well.
UAM will open the 2017 season with the UAM DII Challenge in Bentonville as they will face Missouri Western State Univerity, Northwestern Missouri State University, Pittsburg State (Kan.) Univerity and the University of Missouri at St. Louis Feb. 11-12. The Cotton Blossoms will follow that with the annual UAM 8-State Classic, also in Bentonville from Feb. 17-19.
Southern Arkansas University was selected as the preseason favorite and received seven first-place votes, followed in order by Arkansas Tech University (4 first-place votes), Henderson State University (1), Southeastern Oklahoma State University, UAM, East Central University, Southern Nazarene, Oklahoma Baptist University, Southwestern Oklahoma State, Ouachita Baptist University and Northwestern Oklahoma State University.
“We’ve been picked first and won it,” UAM softball coach Alvy Early said, “and we’ve been picked first and not won it. Nobody knows right now what anyone else has. Preseason polls aren’t worth the paper they’re printed on.”