Valdosta, GA - Coming off a stellar 51-9 season that included a Gulf South Conference Championship, a South Regional Championship and an appearance in the National Championship, Valdosta State softball has been selected as the preseason favorite for the GSC Title, according to a vote by the league’s coaches released Tuesday.
Both Valdosta State and Alabama-Huntsville split all six first-place votes available for the Gulf South’s East Division, but the Blazers outdid Huntsville in the running for overall champion by one vote.
Behind the top two in the East were West Florida, West Alabama, North Alabama and West Georgia in that order. For the overall championship, Valdosta State received six votes while the Chargers garnered five. Arkansas-Monticello was in the running with two votes and was chosen to win the West.
In addition to the respect the team as a whole received from voters, three individuals were named to the Preseason All-GSC Team. Pitchers Holly Satterfield and Margaret Carter, both All-Gulf South selections last season were the only pitchers named to the 2011 preseason squad. Shortstop Marti Littlefield, a magnet for GSC awards, was the third Blazer named to the squad.
Three Valdosta State newcomers also received recognition from conference coaches. All juniors, third base Sam Posey, utility player Natalia Morozova and outfielder Jordan Martin, were tabbed as newcomers to watch in the Gulf South.
One of the most competitive conferences in the country looks to be just as competitive this season. Both Valdosta State and Alabama-Huntsville will get a chance to face Arkansas-Monticello, which placed a conference-high five players on the West’s preseason squad, at the GSC Crossover on April 7-10.
The trio will likely see each other again in the GSC Tournament and South Regional.
Valdosta State returns 13 from the successful 2010 campaign, including both starting pitchers Satterfield and Carter. Three of the top five home run hitters from last season, Littlefield, Morgan Johnson and Melesaa Jackson also return.
The season starts February 4 for Valdosta State and the Blazers will host their first game of the season at 3 p.m. March 1 against Georgia Southwestern.