In what is predicted to be a closely contested battle, Rollins received the preseason nod to defend its Sunshine State Conference softball crown in 2012.
Winners of the 2011 league title, the Tars collected 183 points in a preseason poll conducted among the league’s softball coaches and sports information directors. Rollins picked up nine first-place votes.
Sitting just four points behind the Tars was Tampa, which received 179 points and collected the other nine first-place votes. Barry took the No. 3 slot in the poll with 151 points, while Florida Southern (122 points) was predicted to finish fourth.
Nova Southeastern and Saint Leo tied for fifth place in the rankings, with each team gathering 100 points.
Florida Tech (67), Lynn (46), and Eckerd (24) rounded out the poll.
Rollins will look to replicate its success from last spring when it posted a 45-4 overall record and rolled to a 22-1 mark in SSC action. Four players who earned all-conference honors will return to the Tars’ lineup.
Senior Hope Bitzer, who was named SSC Pitcher of the Year in 2011, will return to the circle for Rollins. Bitzer notched an 18-1 record with a 0.61 ERA. Her earned run average led the league, as did her .136 opposing batting average.
Also returning will be a pair of All-SSC first-team honorees, senior second baseman Krista Rodden and senior outfielder Monica Meadows. Rodden batted .361 with 39 RBI and 28 runs. Meadows posted a .370 batting average and ranked second in the SSC with 53 runs scored.
Veronica Alred, who earned Freshman of the Year honors in her debut season, will also provide depth for the Tars. An All-SSC second-team honoree at utility, she batted .345 with 23 RBI and 27 runs.
Tampa finished second in the SSC standings last year with a 19-5 conference slate and a 39-9 overall mark. The Spartans will be lead by three returning All-SSC performers.
First-team all-conference pitcher Deanna Henriott notched a 25-5 record with a 0.71 ERA and a league-leading 281 strikeouts. Third baseman Susan Jallo also received a first-team nod after batting .320 with 28 RBI and 40 runs. Catcher Becky Vyzas was a second-team selection, batting .353 with 34 RBI, nine home runs, and 14 doubles.
2012 SUNSHINE STATE CONFERENCE PRESEASON SOFTBALL POLL
Rank – Team, Place (1st Place Votes)
1 – Rollins, 183 (9)
2 – Tampa, 179 (9)
3 – Barry, 151
4 – Florida Southern, 122
T5 – Nova Southeastern, 100
T5 – Saint Leo, 100
7 – Florida Tech, 67
8 – Lynn, 46
9 – Eckerd, 24