Monday, February 4, 2013

2013 Conference USA Softball Forecast

Marshall star hurler Andi Williamson
Team that might surprise us all: Marshall
(After a season in which they were just barely denied a spot in the NCAA tournament, Shonda Stanton’s squad has no plans to let history repeat itself. Led by senior superstar Andrea “Andi” Williamson (who you’ll read more about below), the pitching staff is solid. NPF superstar Amanda Williams is the hitting coach, and under her leadership, the Herd is solid at the plate.)

Team that might disappoint us all: Tulsa
(I’m using the word “disappoint” very lightly in this instance. I believe the Hurricanes will have a strong program once again this year, but I also believe they will lose their spot atop the conference. The C-USA is one of the most balanced conferences in college softball, and I believe they will crown a new champion this season. Lacey Middlebrooks, sister of Red Sox star infielder Will, is the standout dual-threat on the Tulsa team.)

Pitcher of the Year: Andi Williamson, Marshall
Player of the Year: Haley Outon, Houston
Coach of the Year: Shonda Stanton, Marshall

Conference Champs: Houston Cougars

Players to Watch:
Jelnick, of the ECU Pirates
Jill Jelnick, East Carolina  Although Jelnick excels in the world of academia, she ain't too shabby on the field, either! A top-of-the-order hitter, setting the stage for the power hitters in the line-up, she hit .315 last season and reached base seventy-one times. Fast and speedy, she also went 10/12 on the base paths.
Haley Outon, Houston#1 on Justin’s World’s list of “Breakout Players of 2013”, Outon had what can only be described as an unbelievable year in 2012. She became the centerpiece of the Cougar offense, and was, without a doubt, the team’s MVP. She ended the season with a .368 batting average, and was named an All-American.
Ellen Roberts, MemphisAn Aussie pitcher and utility player, Roberts served as the #2 pitcher on the staff in her sophomore campaign. She sported an almost 3:1 SO/BB ratio in 2012, and is certainly a player to keep an eye on on an otherwise-mediocre Tigers team.
Lacey Middlebrooks, TulsaThe leader of a large senior class, Lacey is another star pitcher that also swings a mean stick at the plate. A 20-6 record and 2.15 ERA in 2012 helped her lead the pitching staff, and she was in the top three in the majority of the important offensive categories, including home runs; RBI; and slugging percentage.

Conference Projection:
1. Houston
2. Tulsa
3. Marshall
4. UCF
5. East Carolina
6. UAB
7. Memphis
8. Southern Miss

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