FOREST, Va.- Guilford College's softball team was ranked fifth in the 2018 Old Dominion Athletic Conference (ODAC) coaches' preseason poll released Thursday. Defending NCAA Division III national champion Virginia Wesleyan University tops the poll with nine first-place votes after winning its 10th ODAC title in 2017. Randolph-Macon College is second on the list with one first-place vote. Emory & Henry College is third, followed by Lynchburg College and the Quakers.
Guilford finished 2017 with an overall record of 30-13, 14-6 in the ODAC. The Quakers return six starters from the 2017 roster among 18 returning letter winners, including first-team all-state honoree Makayla Carver. Carver, a junior, led last year's team in hits (61) and on-base percentage (.500). Junior Sabrina Moreno (.410 avg., .459 OBP) and sophomore pitcher Kayli Blankenship (.466 avg., .505 OBP) are other top returning hitters who joined Carver as First Team All-ODAC outfielders. Guilford also returns veterans Darby Kozan (.441 BA) and Makayla Crawford (.432, 6 HR, 29 RBI) from last year's squad.
Senior starting pitcher Courtney Lackey returns to the circle for the 2018 season. The senior went 11-8 with 62 strikeouts in 124 innings pitched with an earned run average (ERA) of 3.44 in 2017. Carver (10-3, 53 K, 1.95 ERA) is also a top pitcher for the Quakers.
Head coach Dennis Shores' team opens the 2018 season with a doubleheader February 18 at William Peace University. The Quakers home openers are February 21 versus Methodist University.
2018 ODAC Softball Preseason Poll (#) Denotes first-place votes
1. Virginia Wesleyan (9) 81, 2. Randolph-Macon (1) 66, 3. Emory & Henry College 63, 4. Lynchburg College 59, 5. Guilford 54, 6.Roanoke 43, 7. Eastern Mennonite 31, 8. Randolph 22, 9. Shenandoah 18, 10. Bridgewater 13.