Miami Softball Picked Fifth in MAC East Preseason Poll

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Feb. 6, 2007

CLEVELAND - Miami University's softball team has been picked to finish fifth in the Mid-American Conference East Division, as the league office announced its preseason poll today (Feb. 6). The RedHawks, who finished fifth in the MAC East last season, return 11 letterwinners and eight starters from last season's squad.

Kent State, which won last season's MAC Tournament and earned the conference's automatic NCAA bid, was tabbed as the MAC East preseason favorite and received four votes to win the conference tournament. Western Michigan, which was selected as the top team in the MAC West, also was picked to win the conference tournament, as it received a league-best five votes.

After finishing last season 21-34 overall and 7-15 in the MAC, Miami is entering its first season under head coach Kelly Kovach Schoenly. An 11-year veteran of the Big Ten as an assistant coach, Schoenly was tabbed as the eighth head coach in program history on June 29, 2006 and inherited a Miami team that set school records last season in home runs (33) and runs-batted in (188).

Notable returnees for Miami include team-captain Leslie Macedo (.316 BA/5 HR/37 RBI), who set a Miami single-season record with 37 RBIs last year, and junior first baseman Halle Popson (.366 BA/6 HR/22 RBI), Miami's leading hitter from a season ago. Sophomore outfielder Ashley Gartland (.301 BA/31 H/9 SB) and junior outfielder Christine Bills (.297 BA/4 HR/25 RBI) also return from an offense that posted a .277 batting average in 2006, its highest mark since the 1991 season.

In the East Division, Bowling Green, Akron and Ohio were picked to finish in front of Miami, while Buffalo was tabbed as the sixth-place team. In the West Division, Central Michigan and Eastern Michigan rounded out the top three schools, while Northern Illinois, Ball State and Toledo were selected fourth through sixth, respectively.

Miami opens its 2007 season this weekend when it travels to the Florida Atlantic Invitational in Boca Raton, Fla. Miami's season-opening game is slated for Friday, Feb. 9 against Central Florida at 4 p.m. (EST). The RedHawks also face Florida Atlantic (Feb. 9), North Florida (Feb. 10) and South Carolina (Feb. 10) prior to Sunday's pool play.

Last season's statistics in italics

2007 MAC Softball Preseason Poll

1. Kent State
2. Bowling Green
3. Akron
4. Ohio
6. Buffalo

1. Western Michigan
2. Central Michigan
3. Eastern Michigan
4. Northern Illinois
5. Ball State
6. Toledo