The University of North Georgia softball team will start the 2013 season ranked No. 12 in NCAA Division II as voted on by 16 head coaches from the National Fastpitch Coaches Association (NFCA). The 16 coaches cover the eight regions in the nation with two coaches representing each region.
Valdosta State University was the unanimous No. 1 selection after going 58-5 en route to claiming the 2012 NCAA Division II national crown. UC San Diego was tabbed second ahead of Kutztown, Angelo State and Southern Connecticut State.
"We are very honored to have the respect from the NFCA and the national softball community," stated head coach Mike Davenport. "We understand the expectations that the North Georgia Softball Program has and we look forward to the 2013 season. The 2013 schedule will pose a great challenge for our team this season and we look forward to competing against some of the nation's best programs."
Also making an appearance in the preseason poll from the Peach Belt Conference are Columbus State University in 10th, Flagler College in a tie for 13th with Rollins College and Armstrong Atlantic State University appearing in 20th.
The Saints finished the 2012 season ranked No. 10 in the nation with a record of 49-10. It was the fourth straight year North Georgia finished with at 40 or more wins and finished in the top-10 in the nation. The Saints also finished the season by hosting the NCAA Southeast Regionals for the fourth year in a row and advanced to their fifth straight NCAA Division II tournament appearance.
North Georgia returns four starting infielders, three outfielders with extensive experience and two pitchers including 2012 PBC Freshman of the Year, Southeast Region Pitcher of the Year and All-American Melissa Dickie. Of the returners, seniors Katherine Martin, Karlie Gillam and Kayla Minger along with Dickie were named to the 2013 PBC Preseason All-Conference team.
The 2013 season will begin this weekend with the Saints traveling to Columbus, Ga. for the Peach Belt Conference-Sunshine State Conference (SSC) Challenge, the first cross-conference event featuring four teams from both the PBC and SSC to kick off the season. The tournament will last from Saturday-Sunday.
From there, North Georgia will play in four more early season tournaments, including hosting the North Georgia