SOSU Softball Opens 2014 in San Antonio

For the third-straight season No. 10 Southeastern will open play in San Antonio, Texas at the St. Mary's Tournament with six games scheduled over three days beginning with Texas-Permian Basin at 10 a.m. on Feb. 1.

The Savage Storm will follow that contest with a 2 p.m. meeting with Texas A&M-Kingsville on Saturday afternoon.

On Feb. 2 SE will face No. 17 Angelo State at 2 p.m. and host St. Mary's at 4 p.m., and finish out the trip on Feb. 3 when the team faces Texas A&M-International at 10 a.m. and St. Edward's at noon.

The Savage Storm posted a 45-9 record a season ago, climbing to No. 2 in the nation, but saw its season come to a premature end with a pair of losses in the Central Regional in Mankato, Minn.

They enter the 2014 season picked to win the Great American Conference and have garnered their first preseason national ranking since opening the 2009 season ranked No. 8.

The Storm return its two All-Great American Conference pitchers in GAC Pitcher of the Year Jacee Bennett and GAC Newcomer of the Year Mindy McElroy.

Bennett put together a 21-5 record on the year with a 2.71 ERA and 188 strikeouts, while McElroy kept pace with a 22-3 record to go with a 1.77 ERA and 97 K's.

Bennett and McElroy were each also named All-Central Region honorees, as was Courtney Riddle who will also be returning to the lineup in 2014.

Riddle leads a group of four returning all-conference honorees in the field, along with Jessica Simmons, Laramie Beal and Lacie Cook.

Riddle led the team with a .420 batting average with 13 extra base hits and 31 RBI.

Simmons posted a .351 average and scored 48 runs and posted 35 stolen bases, while Cook turned in a .335 average with 12 doubles and 24 RBI, and Beal hit .311 and led the team in home runs with seven.

Despite returning all but four members from last year's squad, the Storm have also added a bevy of newcomers, with eight new additions to the roster.

UTPB enters the 2014 season picked to finish fourth among the seven full members of the Heartland Conference following a 14-38 season last year with a team that returns four members.

The Javelinas come into the year picked to finish eighth among the Lone Star Conference's eight programs and are coming off a 2013 season in which they posted a 13-38 record.

Despite coming into the season with a No. 17 national ranking, Angelo State was picked to finish fourth in the LSC's preseason poll. The RamBelles posted a 37-18 record a year ago, but finished third in the LSC standings which still earned them a trip to the South Central Regional in Canyon, Texas.

The host Rattlers come into the year as the favorites to win the Heartland Conference and receiving votes in the national poll, just two spots shy of breaking into the rankings. STMU is coming off a 45-15 season which earned them a trip to the South Central Regional in Denton, Texas.

TAMIU comes into the event picked third in the HC following a 22-36 record in 2013.

St. Edward's rounds out the competition the Storm will face as the Hilltoppers come into the vent picked to finish second in the HC after turning in a 33-23 record last season and advancing to the South Central Super-Regional in Denton, Texas.