MELBOURNE, Fla. – Set to kick off its 2018 season on Feb. 2, the Nova Southeastern softball team has been picked to finish sixth in the Sunshine State Conference, as released by the league office on Tuesday afternoon.
The Sharks improved significantly from their 2016 season to 2017, finishing third in the conference with an overall 27-24 record and 15-9 against SSC opponents.
“Although preseason rankings do not define a program, I am proud of my past and present Sharks for showing we are improving,” explained head coach Julie LeMaire. “We are building a tradition for all of us to be proud of here and that takes time to earn and be recognized. I believe this ranking shows we are headed in the right direction and I look forward to us continuing to surprise our competition! I look forward to hitting the field with these young ladies in Gulf Shores!”
Despite losing key players in seniors Dakota Villella and Ashley Roe, NSU will look towards Dana Edmundson and Lexie Storrer, as well as a number of newcomers, to help lead the team to an even better finish. In her first year as a Shark, Edmundson led the team in multiple categories, including batting average (.352), hits (58), runs (36), RBI (29) and total bases (101). Storrer had an outstanding rookie season for the Sharks, posting an overall 2.10 ERA, good enough for seventh-best in the conference. Her seven shutouts were the most by any pitcher in the league in 2017 and her 20 wins were the most by a Shark since 2012.
“I am very excited and pleased with how our preseason work as a team has been going!” boasted LeMaire. “The 2018 season brings a lot of excitement to our constantly improving program. Last year we made a lot of great strides as a program, not only on the field, but off of the field as well. The departure of our 2017 seniors, Ashley and Dakota, is a tough one, they helped to instill a culture and understanding that the team always comes before one’s self. Lucky for us, I truly believe they left the program in a better place and that their message has continued on with their teammates for years to come.”
Back-to-back SSC Champion Saint Leo was selected as the 2018 preseason favorite, receiving 100 total votes and 10 first-place votes in the poll. Tampa comes in second with 84 votes after ending 2017 as conference runner-up. Palm Beach Atlantic finishes third in the voting with 75 votes and the final first-place vote. Embry-Riddle and Rollins round out the Top-5 in a tie for fourth-place at 59 votes.