BRENTWOOD, Tenn. – The University of Tennessee at Martin softball team is poised to contend for an Ohio Valley Conference championship after being picked in the top half of the league’s preseason poll while being tabbed to finish third in the West division.
After making the OVC Tournament championship game for the fourth time in the last five years, this year’s edition of the Skyhawks is primed to for league contention. Canary and the Skyhawks have won two OVC championships, a pair of OVC Tournament championships and earned two NCAA Regional berths in the past five seasons. After falling just short of adding to that number last season, the Skyhawks will turn to five key returners who took home postseason honors.
Leading the group of Skyhawk returners is all-OVC first teamer Kenzi Tate. Tate would take home National Fastpitch Coaches Association Division I All-Region honors along with her OVC accomplishments. Her stellar season included a team leading .359 batting average, 13 home runs and single-season record 56 RBIs. She would lead the league in runs batted in and home runs while ranking third in total bases (11) and fourth in slugging percentage (.659). In the circle she would finish with a 20-6 record along with a 2.79 ERA in 160.2 innings of work.
Jacksonville State has been selected to win the East Division while SIU Edwardsville was picked to take the West Division in the 2014 softball race as voted on by the league’s head coaches and sports information directors.The Gamecocks picked up 12 first-place votes and 120 points while the Cougars picked up 19 first-place nods and 129 points.
Eastern Kentucky is picked to finish second in the East after earning 12-first place votes and 118 points. Tennessee Tech is selected to finish third with 86 points followed by Morehead State (79), Belmont (54) and Tennessee State (35).
In the West Division, Eastern Illinois earned two first-place votes and 97 points for a second-place predicted finish. UT Martin is picked to finish third with one first-place vote and 93 points while Murray State earned two first-place nods and 82 points to be predicted to finish fourth. Rounding out the West are Austin Peay (49) and Southeast Missouri (37).
The 2014 softball campaign gets underway on Feb. 7 with Conference play starting March 15. The 2014 OVC Softball Championship will feature the top eight teams. The three-day event will take place on May 7-10 on the campus of the top seed.
UT Martin will kick off its season on Friday, Feb. 7 when they travel to the Louisiana Tech Lady Techster Invitational. The Skyhawks will play five games in the three day tournament, including a season opening matchup with host Louisiana Tech.
2014 OVC SOFTBALL PREDICTED ORDER OF FINISH
1. Jacksonville State (12 first-place votes) - 120
2. Eastern Kentucky (12 first-place votes) - 118
3. Tennessee Tech - 86
4. Morehead State - 79
5. Belmont - 54
6. Tennessee State – 35
1. SIUE (19 first-place votes) - 129
2. Eastern Illinois (Two first-place votes) - 97
3. UT Martin (One first-place votes) - 93
4. Murray State (Two first-place votes) - 82
5. Austin Peay - 49
6. Southeast Missouri – 37