Forest, Va.- Guilford College's softball team is ranked fifth in the 2017 Old Dominion Athletic Conference (ODAC) coaches' preseason poll released Tuesday. Virginia Wesleyan College tops the poll with nine first-place votes after winning its ninth ODAC championship in 2016. Randolph-Macon College is second on the list with one first-place vote. Lynchburg College is third followed by Eastern Mennonite University and the Quakers.
Guilford finished 2016 with an overall record of 25-18, 8-10 in the ODAC. The Quakers return nine starters from the 2016 roster including First-Team All-State honoree Makayla Carver. Carver, a sophomore, led last year's team in hits (46) and on-base percentage (.461). Seniors Caroline Barnette (.331 avg., .417 OBP) and Shelby Helms (.390 avg., 7 HR) are other top returning hitters. Guilford also returns seniors Taylor Boyd and Erin Ogden as starters from the 2016 roster.
Starting pitcher Courtney Lackey also returns to the mound for the 2017 season. The junior had 75 strikeouts in 113 innings pitched with an earned run average (ERA) of 3.41 in 2016. Carver (5-5, 4.99 ERA) is also expected to return to the mound for the Quakers along with fellow veteran Rebekah Langston.
Head coach Dennis Shores' team opens the 2017 season with a doubleheader February 11 at Meredith College and then returns home February 12 to face Salem College.
2017 ODAC Softball Preseason Poll (#) Denotes first-place votes
1. Virginia Wesleyan (9) 99, 2. Randolph-Macon (1) 82, 3. Lynchburg 82, 4. Eastern Mennonite (1) 81, 5. Guilford 62, 6.Roanoke 57, 7. Emory & Henry 45, 8. Randolph 34, 9. Shenandoah 29, 10. Bridgewater 24, 11. Sweet Briar 10.