FOREST, Va. - Guilford College was picked fourth in the annual preseason Old Dominion Athletic Conference (ODAC) Softball Poll released Tuesday. The league's head coaches cast votes in the 10-team poll.
Defending league champion Virginia Wesleyan College sits first thanks to seven first-place nods and 77 points. Eastern Mennonite University earned two first-place votes and holds second place, 12 points behind the Marlins. Bridgewater College (57 points) sits third, two points ahead of the Quakers. Roanoke College received the remaining first-place vote and 52 points to rank fifth.
Sixth-year head coach Dennis Shores returns 13 letter winners and seven starters from last year's 26-15 unit. Second Team All-ODAC pitcher Jessica Burcham is back after a record-setting 14-6 campaign in which she struck out 157 batters and recorded a 1.91 earned run average. The senior holds the school records for career wins (36), saves (5), shutouts (13) and strikeouts (428). Sophomore Cynthia Hayes is Guilford's top returning hitter after batting .412 as a rookie with a team-high four triples and 11 stolen bases. Senior Morgan Andrews, junior Sarah Cutright, senior Kimberly Keys and junior Autumn Yoder, all returning starters, serve as the team captains in 2012.
Guilford opens the season Feb. 18 versus Emory University at 12 noon on Guilford's Haworth Field.
2012 ODAC SOFTBALL PRESEASON POLL (#) denotes first-place votes
1. Virginia Wesleyan (7) 77, 2. Eastern Mennonite (2) 65, 3. Bridgewater 57, 4. Guilford 55, 5. Roanoke (1) 52, 6. Lynchburg 43, 7. Randolph 38, 7. Randolph-Macon 38, 9. Emory & Henry 17, 10. Sweet Briar 9.