SPARTANBURG, S.C. – Southern Conference softball coaches have named Chattanooga third baseman Sarah Beth Roberts (Mt. Juliet, Tenn.),outfielder Sam Taylor (Chickamauga, Ga.), shortstop Alyssa Taylor (Orange, Calif.) and outfielder Stephanie Rieck (Chandler, Ariz.) to the SoCon Preseason All-Conference teams. Roberts and Sam Taylor both make the cut on the First-Team while Rieck and Alyssa Taylor are placed on the Second-Team.
For Roberts and Rieck, this is the second time the two have been named preseason players to watch for. Last year, both voted to the preseason second-team. This is the first preseason honor for sophomores Sam Taylor and Alyssa Taylor.
The Mocs were one of three teams to have four team members selected All-Conference. Both Furman and Elon each had four student-athletes named from the ballot. UNCG took in the most All-Conference honors with five and the Preseason Player of the Year, catcher Lindsay Thomas. Georgia Southern’s Sarah Purvis was named the Preseason Pitcher of the Year.
As a team, Chattanooga received 31 points in the Preseason Poll and was chosen to finish fourth in the conference. Georgia Southern totaled seven first-place votes to take the top spot. UNCG came in second with 49 points and Appalachian State was picked to finish third with 35 points and one first-place vote.
Roberts and Sam Taylor snagged the attention of the league’s coaches after career-best seasons, thus far, in 2013. Roberts caught fire as a sophomore and batted .310 for the Mocs. The corner-infielder lead all returning Mocs with 30 RBI and doubled a team-best 14 times in 2013. She displayed patience at the plate with 10 walks and potential for power with two homeruns.
As for Taylor, the Chickamauga native’s rookie season was one to remember. The second-baseman-turned-outfielder settled into centerfield nicely for Chattanooga and wielded the bat even better. Batting .333 – the highest batting average among returning Mocs – Taylor collected 45 hits, drove in 13 runs and boasted a .392 on-base percentage. The freshman’s exceptional season was topped off with a 15-game hitting streak.
Stephanie Rieck takes her second second-team preseason honor after starting 53 games last season for Chattanooga. The senior returns after totaling 43 hits and driving in 23 runs in 2013.
Alyssa Taylor gets her first preseason-nod as the sophomore became an every-day starter in 2013. The then-freshman collected 43 hits and was 4-for-4 in stolen base attempts. Taylor played the majority of her innings at short with some experience at second. Look for her to move to second permanently in 2014.
The Mocs open the season Feb. 7 in Orlando, Fla., in the first game of a Friday double-header. Before the Mocs hit the road, Chattanooga hosts “Meet the Mocs” Thursday at 7 p.m. – a chance for fans to meet their favorite student-athletes, watch practice and pick up autographed posters and schedule cards.