NASHVILLE, Tenn. – With the season opener nearly three weeks away, SIUE softball has been picked to finish second in the Ohio Valley Conference as voted on by the league's head coaches and sports information directors.
SIUE, which has appeared in the OVC Tournament championship game in each of the last three seasons, opens the 2017 season Feb. 10 at the Mardi Gras Classic in Monroe, Louisiana, against Grambling and Northwestern State.
The Cougars, which received two first-place votes in the 2017 preseason poll, fought through the OVC Tournament last season after earning the No. 4 seed, finishing with a 28-26 overall record. SIUE won an OVC regular season title in 2015 and advanced to the NCAA Tournament after winning the OVC Tournament in 2015.
Alyssa Heren, a second team All-OVC pick and member of the 2016 All-Newcomer team, is back in the Cougars' lineup as SIUE's top returning hitter from a season ago. The Cougars also return Haley Chambers-Book, the 2015 OVC Pitcher of the Year.
Jacksonville State was selected as the preseason favorite followed by SIUE, Eastern Kentucky, Eastern Illinois, Tennessee Tech, UT Martin, Murray State, Morehead State, Southeast Missouri, Belmont, Austin Peay and Tennessee State.
SIUE's home opener is March 17 at the SIUE Tournament against Toledo.
2017 OVC SOFTBALL PREDICTED ORDER OF FINISH
(as voted on by the league's head softball coaches and sports information directors)
1. Jacksonville State (22 first-place votes) – 242
2. SIUE (Two first-place votes) – 205
3. Eastern Kentucky – 201
4. Eastern Illinois – 173
5. Tennessee Tech – 159
6. UT Martin – 151
7. Murray State – 135
8. Morehead State – 94
9. Southeast Missouri – 83
10. Belmont – 71
11. Austin Peay - 47
12. Tennessee State - 23
(Schools were not allowed to rank their own team. 11 points awarded for a first-place vote, 10 for second, etc.)