Cumberland was selected third among 10 teams in the Mid-South Conference preseason softball coaches’ poll, the league office released Monday afternoon.
Coach Heather Stanfill returns 12 letterwinners from last season, a squad which finished 37-22 and 9-7 in the Mid-South en route to the program’s first-ever NAIA Championship Opening Round appearance.
Lindsey Wilson, a squad which has recorded a share of the regular-season title the last four seasons, was positioned as the top contender in 2014, collecting 75 points along with six first-place votes. Campbellsville ranked just one point behind the Blue Raiders with 74 points and two votes at the top spot. Cumberland occupies the third slot with 64 points and two first place votes of its own.
Georgetown College (61), Shawnee State (51) and Rio Grande (39) cover the No. 4-6 slots, while St. Catharine (32), Pikeville (27), the University of the Cumberlands (18) and Bluefield (9) round out the poll in that order.
Stanfill and company retain six starters from last season as well as three of the top four pitchers on the squad.
Leading the way offensively will be redshirt junior Jessica Roper, an All-Mid-South Conference second team selection last season. Roper ranked second on the team, batting .357 in 50 appearances and 45 starts as the team’s primary catcher. The Bellflower, Calif., native hit a team-high 11 home runs.
In the circle, redshirt senior Courtney Maynard brings a wealth of experience after collecting All-Mid-South First Team honors last season. A Lancaster native, Maynard posted a 20-10 record last season with a stellar 1.76 ERA. In 35 appearances, she pitched 21 complete games and six shutouts.
Five seniors return to the squad as previous starters or pitchers in Shawnee Kirk, Devon Jamerson, Sarah Murray, Caroline Curran and Jessica Lozano. Juniors Sydney Broderick and Kaleigh Pearce round out the returning starters.