AUGUSTA, Ga. – The Columbus State University softball team was voted ninth in the Peach Belt Conference preseason poll. The poll was voted on by the league’s 13 head coaches.
Columbus State drew votes ranging from fifth to ninth place in the conference.
North Georgia was named the conference favorite after picking up eight first-place votes. Armstrong State picked up the other five votes for the top spot and is in the second position. Georgia College, Young Harris and UNC Pembroke round out the top five.
In his eighth year, head coach Brad Huskisson returns seven starters from last year’s squad that finished with a 27-26 overall record.
Junior McKenzie Fagioli leads the way after topping the CSU chart in hitting in 2016. Fagioli led Columbus State with a .340 average and 12 doubles. The second baseman was named to the preseason All-Conference team earlier this week.
Two-year starters Kia Smith and Calli Star also return for the Lady Cougars for their junior campaigns. Smith hit .338 and stole 29 bases as a sophomore, while Star posted a .327 batting average and led the team with 36 runs batted in.
Kayleigh Briant, Elizabeth Perdue, Lee Anne Rees and Keeli Waugh are also back in 2017 for CSU after starting last season.
In the circle, the Lady Cougars bring back 66 percent of its work from one year ago. Peyton Sorrells recorded a 12-8 mark as a freshman, tossing a team-high 125 innings. Sydney Barker and Darby Demarest combined to make 46 appearances, picking up seven wins and a trio of saves.
The Lady Cougars open the season at the PBC/GSC Southern Softball Showdown at the South Commons Softball Complex in Columbus Feb. 4-5. The Lady Cougars will take on Union and West Alabama on day one and follow up against Shorter and Lee on the second day.