SAINT LEO, Fla. – The Saint Leo University softball team was selected to finish third in the 2009 Sunshine State Conference Preseason Poll released Wednesday. Defending SSC Champion Barry University was tagged as the favorite to repeat as champions.

Saint Leo totaled 92 points in the poll and were picked to finish the season one spot lower than where they concluded their record setting season last year. The Lions ended the 2008 campaign posting a 37-15 record and their 14-7 conference record tied them for second in the SSC with rival Tampa. SLU also posted their best run in the NCAA Tournament last year, advancing to the South Region semifinal round.

The Lions have a relatively new squad taking the field for the 2009 campaign, as nine new players will put on the Lions’ jersey for the first time. Still, the Lions have plenty of leadership as seven players return from last season’s squad, including senior and All-America selection Ashley Urbanik.  Senior All-Conference selections Ally Maddox and Tatiana Casis, along with junior transfer Tiffinee Harvey look to lead a strong supporting cast of Lions to even greater success in 2009.

Barry received 127 points, including 15 of 16 possible first-place votes, while Tampa collected 110 points to place second in the poll and garnered the other three first-place votes. Following the Lions in the poll was Rollins, which received 89 points and the fourth-place nod. Florida Southern and Nova Southeastern were tabbed to finish fifth and sixth, while Florida Tech, Lynn and Eckerd rounded out the poll.

Voting for the SSC softball preseason poll was conducted among the league’s head softball coaches and sports information directors.

The Lions will open their 2009 season in San Antonio, TX as they compete in the St. Mary’s Tournament. Their first test will be against Cameron University on February 5.  First pitch is slated for 1:00 pm EST. and the game will be broadcasted live on the Saint Leo Lions AudioCast Network.

2009 SUNSHINE STATE CONFERENCE PRESEASON SOFTBALL POLL
Place - Team, Points (1st Place Votes)
1 - Barry, 127 (15)
2 - Tampa, 110 (3)
3 - Saint Leo, 92
4 - Rollins, 89
5 - Florida Southern, 69
6 - Nova Southeastern, 63
7 - Florida Tech, 41
8 - Lynn, 39
9 - Eckerd, 18