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Jan. 29, 2015

COLUMBIA, S.C. – South Carolina, after finishing in a tie for eighth last season, is picked to finish 10th in the Southeastern Conference in 2015 according to a poll of the league’s coaches.

The Gamecocks bring back all but 28 innings from last year’s pitching staff that led them to a 36-22 overall record and an 11-13 mark in SEC play, the most wins for South Carolina since 2007. Redshirt senior Julie Sarratt and sophomore Nickie Blue both ranked in the top 15 in numerous SEC pitching categories, with the SEC All-Freshman Team honoree Blue topping not only the league but NCAA Division I in saves.

Offensively, 71 percent of the Gamecocks’ home-run output returns, including single-season record-holder Sarah Mooney. SEC All-Freshman Team first baseman Kaylea Snaer is back after leading South Carolina in walks and RBI as a freshman.

Defending national champion Florida took 11 of the 13 first-place votes to take the regular-season crown. The reigning SEC champ Alabama finished second, while Kentucky, LSU and SEC Tournament winner Georgia rounded out the top five. Missouri, Auburn and Tennessee are picked to finish sixth through eighth, respectively, while Texas A&M, South Carolina and Mississippi State all finished with point totals in the 40s to come in ninth through 11th, respectively.

South Carolina received votes in both the NFCA/USA Today Coaches Poll and the Softball rankings. Nine of the 13 SEC teams are ranked in the preseason polls.

The 2015 season begins on Fri., Feb. 6, with the Gamecocks opening on the road in the Pirate Classic at East Carolina. South Carolina faces Longwood in the lid-lifter at 12:30 p.m. that day while also facing Delaware State once and the host Pirates twice during the event.

2015 SEC Softball Preseason Coaches Poll

(first-place votes in parentheses)

1. Florida (11) – 143
2. Alabama – 120
3. Kentucky (1) – 115
4. LSU – 103
5. Georgia (1) – 102
6. Missouri – 98
7. Auburn – 85
8. Tennessee – 76
9. Texas A&M – 48
10. South Carolina – 46
11. Mississippi State – 42
12. Arkansas – 21
13. Mississippi – 15