DURANT, Okla. - Southeastern softball has been picked to repeat as the Great American Conference champions as announced by the league office in its preseason poll on Tuesday.
The Savage Storm are coming off a memorable 45-9 season in which the team picked up its first GAC championship, climbed to No. 2 in the national rankings and advanced to the NCAA playoffs.
SE collected seven of the 11 possible first place votes and totaled 97 points in the preseason poll.
The Storm returns seven of the nine offensive players who started at least half the games and overall lose four letterwinners from the 2013 squad.
Southeastern dominated the 2013 honors, and GAC Pitcher of the Year Jacee Bennett along with Newcomer of the Year Mindy McElroy will return for the 2014 season. Head coach Ron Faubion also took home conference Coach of the Year honors last season.
The team returns six players that earns all-conference recognition, with Bennett, McElroy and Courtney Riddle also earning All-Central Region honors.
The Storm finished 10 points ahead of second-place East Central in the preseason poll, with the Tigers collecting two first place votes.
Arkansas-Monticello finished third with 75 points and the final two first place votes.
Arkansas Tech was picked fourth, followed by Southern Arkansas and Henderson State.
Ouachita Baptist and Southern Nazarene were tied for seventh, while Northwestern Oklahoma State was in ninth, Southwestern Oklahoma State in 10th and Harding, in its first season of softball, was picked 11th.
Southeastern will open the 2014 season on Feb. 1 in San Antonio, Texas, to play in the St. Mary’s tournament, with its first game at 10 a.m. against Texas-Permian Basin.