Sam Houston State, finalists in the league post-season tournaments each of the past two years, have been picked to finish third in 2014 Southland softball race according to the annual preseason forecast of the league’s head coaches.

Northwestern State, the defending Southland tournament champion, received 77 points in the coaches’ poll. The Demons received four first-place votes. McNeese State, the defending regular season champions, totaled 74 points and also had four first place votes from the coaches.

The Bearkats finished third in the voting with 70 points including two first place votes.

SHSU head coach Bob Brock returns 12 letter-winners including five starters in the field and three starting pitchers. Top hitters returning for the Bearkats included infielder Tiffany Castillo (.380), second baseman Alyssa Coggins (.354), designated player Hillary Adams (.339) and outfielder Jessica Slater (.328). Shortstop Sarah Allison, an all-Southland selection two seasons ago who redshirted last season, also returns.

The Kats also boast a veteran staff in the circle. Pitchers returning include Shelby Lancaster (15-8, 2.98 ERA), Meme Quinn (11-8, 3.28 ERA) and Haley Baros (11-8, 3.43 ERA).

Northwestern State returns 11 letterwinners, eight starters and two pitchers.  McNeese State welcomes back 14 letterwinners, including eight starters and two pitchers.

Central Arkansas was tabbed fourth in the coaches’ poll, followed by Southeastern Louisiana fifth, Lamar sixth, Nicholls seventh and Houston Baptist eighth. Stephen F. Austin was selected ninth while Texas A&M-Corpus Christi was 10th to round out both polls.

Since both Abilene Christian and UIW will not play a full slate of league games in their first year of transition into Division I, they were not eligible to be picked in the preseason polls. Additionally, neither team is eligible for postseason play until 2018.

Southland teams open the season Feb. 6 with conference play beginning March 7. The conference tournament will be hosted by McNeese State in Lake Charles, La., May 8-10 at the Cowgirl Diamond. The championship game will be streamed live exclusively on ESPN3.

2014 Preseason Southland Softball Head Coaches Poll

Coaches’ Poll


1. Northwestern State (4)


2. McNeese State (4)


3. Sam Houston State (2)


4. Central Arkansas


5. Southeastern Louisiana


6. Lamar


7. Nicholls


8. Houston Baptist


9. Stephen F. Austin


10. Texas A&M-Corpus Christi