The Winthrop softball team was voted to finish third in the 2011 Big South Conference preseason poll.
Winthrop finished tied for third in 2010 and was the No. 3 seed in the Big South Championship. The Lady Eagles were runners-up in the conference tournament and finished the year with a 28-29 record. It was the first time since 2003 in which the Lady Eagles finished under .500
Winthrop received one first-place vote in the preseason poll and 33 total points behind Liberty's 40 and Radford, which was selected to finish first with 48 points and six of the seven first-place votes.
Winthrop was followed by Charleston Southern, Coastal Carolina, Gardner-Webb and Presbyterian.
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Radford senior shortstop Kristen Shifflett was unanimously voted Preseason Player of the Year, while Liberty's Tiffani Smith was selected Preseason Pitcher of the Year by the panel.
Winthrop lost its duo on the mound in Cari Wooldridge and Megan Evans, who were both in charge of the pitching circle for four seasons. Evans was a three-time All-Big South selection and Wooldridge two-time Big South Conference Tournament MVP. The two pitchers combined to win 127 games.
Winthrop returns three pitchers in senior Ashleigh Jackson, junior Taylor Wright and sophomore Chelsey Schoenfeldt. The trio also accounted for almost half of the team's home runs last season.
The season begins in Columbia for the Palmetto State Showdown against Furman on Feb. 13.
BEST FRESHMAN AGAIN -- Dequesha McClanahan, the Lady Eagles point guard, was named Big South Freshman of the Week for the fifth time this season. The record is six held by Shamia Brown (High Point, 2008-09) and Katie LaRue (Charleston Southern, 1998-99). Other five-time winners include Michelle Fricke (Liberty, 1999-00), Vicki Giffin (UNC Asheville, 1993-94) and Ashley Fann (Winthrop, 2005-06).
McClanahan averaged 22 points on 52 percent shooting to fuel the Lady Eagles to a 1-1 record last week. In the win over UNC Asheville on Jan. 22, McClanahan scored 15 points in the second half to rally Winthrop from a 15-point halftime deficit. She finished the contest with 26 points on 60 percent shooting from the floor. She also chipped in eight helpers and came away with three steals in the win. Two days later against High Point, she had 18 points, six boards, two assists and three steals.
The Lady Eagles have home games Saturday and Monday nights.
VERBAL COMMITMENT -- Lady Eagles' basketball coach Bud Childers received a verbal commitment from guard Nicole Adams out of Gulf High School in the New Port Richey, Fla. Gulf was 22-3 as of Tuesday and Adams was scoring 29.3 ppg. She is nearing 2,000 points for her prep career.
TENNIS PLAYERS EARN HONORS -- Senior Sergey Belov and freshman Andressa Garcia took home Big South Conference awards this week, winning Big South Conference Men's Tennis Player of the Week and Freshman of the Week, respectively.
Belov was unable to take his doubles match, but rebounded nicely to gain a point in singles as he defeated Orcun Seyrek of UNC Greensboro 7-6 (9-7), 7-5.
In the match against No. 6 ranked North Carolina, Garcia took No. 86 ranked Lauren McHale to three sets before falling 10-8 in the final set. In the match against No. 52 Wake Forest, Garcia and teammate Elizaveta Zaytseva went into a tiebreak but lost 8-7 (7-2). In singles play, Garcia was the only Eagle to leave Winston-Salem, N.C., with a victory as she took down Ryann Cutillo 2-6, 6-4, 11-9.
BASEBALL -- Season tickets for the 2011 Winthrop baseball season are on sale and can be purchased at the Winthrop Athletics Box Office, located in the lobby of the lower level entrance of the Winthrop Coliseum.
Payments for the season tickets are due by Tuesday, Feb. 1.
Direct any questions about 2011 Winthrop baseball season tickets to Ticket Manager Larry McLaine via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at (803) 323-2129, ext. 2345.