ROCK HILL, S.C. — The Lady Railsplitters were picked seventh in the South Atlantic Conference Softball Preseason Coaches’ Poll, while Lincoln Memorial University’s Brianna Mulkey and Amanda Snow were named to the Preseason All-SAC Second Team.
In 2013, Lincoln Memorial’s first year under the direction of head coach Natalie Layden, the Lady Railsplitters compiled the program’s first 30-win season since 2008, finishing with a 30-22 overall mark. Behind a 7-11 South Atlantic Conference ledger, the Lady Railsplitters earned a spot in the Food Lion SAC Championship with the eight seed. Lincoln Memorial eliminated No.4 Carson-Newman from the tournament before being ousted by Wingate on the second to last day of the championship.
The Lady Railsplitters were tabbed for a seventh-place finish, a one-spot improvement, in 2014, as the league’s coaches handed Lincoln Memorial 54 total points in the SAC Softball Preseason Coaches’ Poll.
Four-time defending SAC Tournament champions Lenoir-Rhyne claimed the top spot in the league’s preseason poll, amassing seven of the 12 first-place votes available to rack up 127 points. The Bears have won three of the last four regular-season titles, but they are coming off of a third-place finish in 2013 following an 11-7 regular-season league mark.
The Anderson University Trojans were picked to match last season’s effort, grabbing three first-place votes and 114 total points to fall to second in the poll. The Trojans went 40-15 last season and made an appearance in the NCAA Southeast Super Regional.
Wingate picked up 104 total points to earn the No.3 spot in the poll, while Catawba and Carson-Newman collected 86 total points, respectively, with one first-place vote apiece to tie in fourth. Out of that group, Wingate is expected to make the biggest jump after completing the 2013 season in seventh place, while Carson-Newman and Catawba finished fourth and fifth respectively in the final standings.
Just ahead of the Lady Railsplitters, defending South Atlantic Conference regular-season champions Tusculum collected 83 points to take the No.6 spot. The Pioneers rolled off a 13-5 record in league play in 2013.
Following the Lady Railsplitters, Mars Hill came in at No.8 with 52 points, while SAC newcomers Queens and Coker were slotted for ninth- and 10th-place finishes. No.11 Newberry and No.12 Brevard rounded out the league’s preseason poll results.
Preseason All-SAC Team
Along with the results of the preseason coaches’ poll, the league office unveiled the Preseason All-SAC selections on Tuesday. Senior outfielder Brianna Mulkey and junior designated player Amanda Snow earned the nod for the Preseason All-SAC Second Team.
Mulkey, a two-time All-SAC award winner, led the Lady Railsplitters and ranked seventh in the South Atlantic Conference with a .375 batting average. The Kettering, Ohio, native compiled 65 hits in 52 games with four triples, ranking fifth in the SAC in that category. For the third-straight season, Mulkey led the league in stolen base, racking up 34. That number ranks fourth in single-season history at Lincoln Memorial University. Mulkey rounded out her stat ledger with 73 total bases, a team-high 40 runs scored and a .392 on-base percentage. In the field, the Fairmont High School graduate posted a .964 fielding percentage with 49 put outs and four assists.
Mulkey heads into her final season with the Lady Railsplitters carrying a lifetime batting split of .343/.388/.394 (batting, slugging, on-base). She has amassed 160 hits in 150 career games with four doubles, seven triples, one home run and 28 RBI. Mulkey’s 96 runs scored ranks 10th all-time in school history, while she already claims the school record for stolen bases with 100 career thefts.
Knoxville native and Fulton High School graduate Amanda Snow joined Mulkey on the Preseason All-SAC Second Team after the most productive year of her stay with the Lady Railsplitters. Snow compiled batting splits of .341/.674/.506, ranking second in the South Atlantic Conference in slugging percentage and third in on-base percentage. Snow accumulated 44 total hits with seven doubles, 12 home runs (second in the SAC), 37 RBI (eighth in SAC) and 87 total bases (ninth in SAC). The junior designated player also drew 44 walks in 2013, ranking second in the league in that category. In the field, Snow tallied a team-high 268 put outs and 36 assists in 32 games at first base.
In two seasons with the Lady Railsplitters, Snow has gathered a lifetime split of .336/.609/.466 with 55 runs scored, 86 hits, 13 doubles, 19 home runs and 67 RBI. Her .609 career slugging percentage ranks seventh in school history, while her 19 home runs are tied for ninth in LMU’s career record book. Her career .466 on-base percentage is holding steady in third all-time in school history.
The Lady Railsplitters are slated to open the 2014 campaign on Feb. 5, welcoming Milligan to Dorothy Neely Field for a non-conference double-header beginning at 1 p.m. LMU kicks off SAC play on March 15 with a visit to Queens.