ODAC coaches pick softball fourth

Mackenzie Chitwood hitting a softball in a game

Forest, Va. -- Fresh off the program's sixth-ever NCAA Division III tournament berth, University of Lynchburg's softball team enters the 2019 season picked fourth among the Old Dominion Athletic Conference's 11 teams, the ODAC announced with its preseason coaches' poll Wednesday afternoon.

Lynchburg picked up 77 points in the coaches' ballot, just one point behind third-picked Emory & Henry and well ahead of fifth choice Guilford (58 points).

Two-time defending national champion Virginia Wesleyan enters the season again as the league's favorite garnering 10 of the 11 first-place votes and the maximum number of possible points, 100. Randolph-Macon was the overwhelming second choice, picking up the remaining first-place nod and 90 points in the poll.

RELATED: 2019 ODAC softball preseason poll

Head coach Dawn Simmons enters her 21st season at the helm of the Hornets with vast experience back on her 2019 squad. The Hornets posted a 30-14 overall record a year ago, including a 12-6 mark in league play, and earned an at-large berth to the national tournament. Lynchburg received votes in the National Fastpitch Coaches' Association preseason top 25 poll, which also came out Wednesday.

Seven starters return for Lynchburg, highlighted by senior third baseman Taylor Mabry (Bassett, Va.), a second-team All-America selection last season. Junior infielder Sarah Commons (Glen Allen, Va.) returns after an All-South Region nod as Lynchburg's primary designated player a season ago. Two more All-ODAC picks in senior catcher Brittany Coffey (Manassas, Va.) and junior shortstop Kayla Hugate (Chesterfield, Va.) return for the Hornets as well.

Lynchburg opens this season this Saturday, Feb. 9, in Fayetteville, N.C., with a 1 p.m. double-dip at Methodist. The Hornets will wait until next month to make their home debut, a Saturday, March 2 doubleheader with Geneva on Moon Field.

RELATED: 2019 Lynchburg softball schedule

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1. Virginia Wesleyan University (10)

100 pts.

2. Randolph-Macon College (1)

90 pts.

3. Emory & Henry College

78 pts.

4. University of Lynchburg

77 pts.

5. Guilford College

58 pts.

6. Roanoke College

56 pts.

7. Ferrum College

42 pts.

8. Eastern Mennonite University

38 pts.

9. Bridgewater College

27 pts.

10. Randolph College

23 pts.

11. Shenandoah University

16 pts.