2020 Southland Preseason All-Conference Softball Teams announced

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FRISCO, Texas – The Southland Conference released its 2020 preseason all-conference softball teams Wednesday morning. Ten schools were represented among the rosters with 24 of the 25 honorees making their way as automatic selections from the 2019 season.

Northwestern State leads the way with four picks, including a pair of first teamers in Cayla Jones and E.C. Delafield and second-team honorees Alexis Perry and Elise Vincent. Jones finished the 2019 season ranked third in the league for runs scored (41) and fifth in the league with nine home runs. Delafield ranked tied for third with four triples on the year, while Vincent racked up 18 stolen bases on 21 attempts. Perry added to the Lady Demons’ offense last season with 30 RBI. Perry made her way on the second-team roster as a catcher after being voted on as the lone non-automatic selection.

Central Arkansas, McNeese, Sam Houston State, Southeastern Louisiana and Stephen F. Austin accounted for three spots each. Abilene Christian and Nicholls tallied two players, while Lamar and Texas A&M-Corpus Christi each registered one selection apiece.

The Bears landed a trio on the first team with outfielder Kayla Crutchmer and infielders Kaylyn Shepherd and Cylla Hill. Crutchmer, Hill and Shepherd all finished the season ranked among the league’s top-10 batting averages last year and pushed UCA to the No. 8 seed in the Southland Tournament.

First-team pitcher Alexsandra Flores is joined by fellow Cowgirls and second-team picks Cori McCrary and Kaylee Lopez. The Cowgirls’ defense remained stingy throughout the 2019 campaign and led the conference with 1,379 putouts and 31 double plays. After finishing regular-season play in third place, McNeese made a postseason run with a 3-2 record in the National Invitational Softball Championship (NISC).

Tiffany Thompson and Megan McDonald pave the way for the reigning regular-season and Southland Tournament champion Bearkats. Brooke Malia rounds out the three Sam Houston State preseason honorees after hammering the game-winning two-run homer over Nicholls to secure the conference tournament title for the Kats. Thompson was also key for SHSU’s 2019 postseason bid after hitting a two-run shot over center field to defeat Texas in the opening round of the NCAA tournament, the Bearkats’ second regional victory in school history. McDonald made 57 starts on 58 appearances and ranked second on the SHSU squad with a .299 average at the plate.

Southeastern Louisiana also landed three players on the first-team in Ella Manzer, Madisen Blackford and Alley McDonald. The trio return for a Lady Lions squad that led the conference with 465 hits, 300 runs and a .301 team-batting average. Manzer, who is entering her junior season, was tabbed an all-conference and all-region selection during her sophomore season. McDonald will lead the Lady Lions from inside the circle after ringing up a team-best 44 strikeouts and a 13-7 record last season. Among SLU’s returning roster, Blackford led the Lady Lions last year with 32 runs on 39 hits.

The Ladyjacks placed three players on the preseason rosters, led by sophomore first-team pitcher Kassidy Wilbur. Wilbur will look to build upon her Southland Freshman of the Year season when she ranked second in the league with 256 strikeouts over 229.2 innings and a .206 opposing batting average. She is joined by second-team selections Bryana Novegil and Ashley Kriesel who also earned automatic preseason distinctions after helping the SFA squad to an 18-9 Southland record last year.

Abilene Christian added a pair of players to the second-team roster in Samantha Bradley and Linsey Tomlinson. The pair return for the Wildcats after combining for 42 RBI during 2019.

Samantha Dares and Caitlin Garcia are back in action for the Colonels as preseason second-team all-conference members. The Nicholls duo was part of the Southland Tournament runner-up squad that pushed the Bearkats to seven innings in the championship matchup. Dares and Garcia helped the Colonels to a 21-6 conference mark and a No. 2 seed in the Southland tournament.

Lamar’s Jade Lewis holds a spot on the first team after clinching Newcomer of the Year and all-conference honors for the Cardinals during the 2019 season. Lewis returns to the diamond after leading her LU squad with a 22 RBI, three home runs and a .313 batting average.

Texas A&M-Corpus Christi’s Sammi Thomas rounds out the preseason roster with a second-team spot at the utility player position. Thomas accounted for a team-best 19 runs and seven home runs for the Islanders during her freshman campaign.

The 2020 season begins Thursday, Feb. 6 with Central Arkansas traveling to Baton Rouge to take on LSU in a 6 p.m. showdown. Nine more schools open up their schedules Friday, Feb. 7, while the remaining two schools begin Saturday, Feb. 8.

The preseason all-conference teams are voted upon by the league’s head coaches. Returning players from the 2019 All-Conference First and Second teams are automatically named to the 2020 Preseason All-Conference teams at their respective positions. Second and third team players are elevated to first and second teams if the slot is vacated by a non-returning player at the same position.

First Team
Name School Pos. Class Hometown
Kaylyn Shepherd* Central Arkansas 1B Sr. Mechanicsville, Va.
Cayla Jones* Northwestern State 2B Jr. Missouri City, Texas
Cylla Hill* Central Arkansas 3B Sr. Henryetta, Okla.
Tiffany Thompson* Sam Houston State SS Sr. Montgomery, Texas
Ella Manzer* Southeastern Louisiana C Jr. Alexandria, La.
Jade Lewis* Lamar DP Sr. Mont Belvieu, Texas
Megan McDonald* Sam Houston State OF Sr. Georgetown, Texas
Madisen Blackford* Southeastern Louisiana OF Jr. Des Moines, Iowa
Kayla Crutchmer* Central Arkansas OF Sr. Tulsa, Okla.
Kassidy Wilbur* Stephen F. Austin P So. Bridge City, Texas
Alley McDonald* Southeastern Louisiana P Sr. Whitehouse, Tenn.
Alexsandra Flores* McNeese P Sr. Lufkin, Texas
E.C. Delafield* Northwestern State UT Jr. Stonewall, La.

Second Team
Name School Pos. Class Hometown
Samantha Dares* Nicholls 1B Sr. Metairie, La.
Bryana Novegil* Stephen F. Austin 2B Jr. Houston, Texas
Brooke Malia* Sam Houston State 2B Jr. Houston, Texas
Caitlin Garcia* Nicholls 3B Jr. Spring, Texas
Cori McCrary* McNeese SS Sr. McCarley, Miss.
Alexis Perry Northwestern State C So. Wylie, Texas
Samantha Bradley* Abilene Christian DP Sr. Azle, Texas
Kaylee Lopez* McNeese OF So. Indian Bayou, La.
Elise Vincent* Northwestern State OF Sr. Maurice, La.
Linsey Tomlinson* Abilene Christian OF Sr. Huffman, Texas
Ashley Kriesel* Stephen F. Austin P Jr. Houston, Texas
Sammi Thomas* Texas A&M-Corpus Christi UT So. Buford, Ga.

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