RUSSELLVILLE – The Great American Conference released their preseason softball coaches’ poll, and the Mulerider softball team, who ended last season as the No. 1 team in the country, were unanimously picked to win the conference.
The Muleriders picked up 121 points and 11 first-place votes.
This is the fifth year in a row that head coach Jason Anderson‘s team has been picked atop the preseason poll.
Arkansas Tech received the other first-place vote and come in second in the poll.
The Muleriders return eight of nine starting position players from last season’s team that went 22-2 overall and ended the season No. 1 in the NFCA poll.
The Muleriders also return 151.1 innings of 153.1 innings pitched from last season’s pitching staff, including 2018 GAC Pitcher of the Year Victoria Taylor, 2019 GAC Pitcher of the Year Sydney Wader and Elisa Favela, who has recorded three no-hitters in her two seasons as a Mulerider.
At the plate, the Muleriders return Favela, who hit .506 a season ago and is the school’s record-holder for career batting average (.405) and is top-three all-time in slugging percentage and on-base percentage.
Also returning is Laina Suesue, who has started every available game behind the plate in her two seasons in Magnolia; Alese Casper, who hit .380 and recorded four assists from center field; and 2018 All-American Faith Otts, who drew a team-high 19 walks last season.
Sarah Evans and Christina Hill return a combined 10 homeruns, and Jaxynn Dyson and Maeson Grace hit two homeruns each while offering solid defensive output for the Muleriders.
The Muleriders open their season on February 12th, when they host the Ronnie Hawkins/Mike McGhee Memorial in conjunction with Henderson State and Ouachita Baptist. The Muleriders will play Mississippi College, Angelo State, Maryville, Texas A&M-Kingsville and St. Mary’s (TX) over the three-day event.
Conference play opens on February 26th in Weatherford against Southwestern Oklahoma State, and their conference home opener is a week later on March 5th versus Arkansas Tech.
The full schedule can be found here.