ROCK HILL — The Newberry softball team has been picked to finish fourth in the 2018 South Atlantic Conference season in the annual preseason poll voted on by coaches.
Carson-Newman was selected to finish first in the SAC receiving six first-place votes followed by Lenoir-Rhyne in second place with four first-place votes. Coker is one spot above the Wolves and received one first-place vote.
Additionally, three Wolves were named to the preseason all-conference teams. Designated player Haley Simonds was named to the first team. Second baseman Natalie Willis and pitcher Emily Marchbanks were voted to the second team.
Simonds, a sophomore from Pasadena, Md., appeared in 49 games during her freshman season with a .397 batting average, 50 RBIs and 20 runs scored. She also notched 12 home runs among her 23 extra-base hits, slugged .743, and had a .478 on-base percentage. During her breakout freshman season she racked up numerous accolades; third in the SAC in home runs (11), First Team All-Conference, All-Tournament team, First-team All-Southeast Region honors from NFCA, First-Team All-Southeast Region honors from D2CCA, First-Team All-ECAC, and named an All-American by two different publications.
Willis, a junior from Lexington, started in all 49 contests at second base and scored 40 runs, had 12 RBIs, and hit a team-best .423. She also had a .995 fielding percentage and collected a team-high 15 stolen bases. She fielded .995 with just one error in 199 defensive chances. During the 2017 campaign, she finished fourth in the SAC in batting average .418, fifth in hits (64), Second-Team All-Conference, All-Tournament, First-Team All-Southeast Region honors from NFCA, and Second-Team All-Southeast Region honors D2CCA.
Marchbanks is a senior from Sweet Home, Ore. who made 24 starts and four relief appearances in the circle. She posted a 12-10 record with 12 complete games, one save, and was a part of four shutouts. She pitched a three-hit, complete game shutout in an elimination game against Queens in the SAC Championship on Apr. 28 and ended the season with 81 strikeouts.
Newberry will open their season at Francis Marion in a doubleheader on Feb. 4 starting at 1:00 p.m