Southeast Missouri State's Madeline Krumrey pitches to a SIU Edwardsville batter in the first inning Sunday, March 29, 2015 at the Southeast Softball Complex. (Southeast Missourian file)
The Southeast Missouri State softball team was picked to finish ninth in the 2017 Ohio Valley Conference preseason poll, which was revealed Thursday.
Jacksonville State, which won its fifth straight regular-season title last season, was picked as the preseason favorite. The preseason poll is voted on by the league’s head coaches and sports information directors.
The Redhawks enter their third season under the direction of coach Mark Redburn. Southeast went 16-33 overall and 10-17 in the OVC last season, finishing 10th out of 12 teams in the league.
SEMO’s 2017 roster features 10 newcomers, including eight freshmen. The Redhawks had a 6-0 record during their fall exhibition season, a slate that opened with a 3-2 win over Southern Illinois.
The Gamecocks posted a 43-17 overall mark and were 26-0 in conference play last year. They won their fifth straight regular-season title and went on to win their fifth tourney crown. JSU will be led by coach Jana McGinnis, who enters her 24th season at the helm, and the 2016 OVC Pitcher of the Year in junior Whitney Gillespie.
The Gamecocks notched 242 points and picked up 22 first-place votes to pick up the top spot in the preseason poll, while SIU Edwardsville (205 points) grabbed two first-place votes and was picked to finish second. Eastern Kentucky (201 points) took third, followed by Eastern Illinois (173 points) in fourth, Tennessee Tech (159 points) in fifth, UT Martin (151 points) in sixth, Murray State (135 points) in seventh and Morehead State (94 points) in eighth. Rounding out the poll behind the Redhawks were Belmont (10th, 71 points), Austin Peay (11th, 47 points) and Tennessee State (12th, 23 points).
Southeast opens its season on Feb. 11 at the Jackson State Tournament in Jackson, Mississippi.