Press Release from the Southwestern Athletic Conference
Familiar faces have been selected as title favorites once again as Alabama State (Eastern) and Texas Southern (Western) finished atop their respective division order of finish standings as part of the league’s 2018 preseason softball awards.
The preseason teams and order of finish were each chosen in a vote by the league’s coaches and sports information directors. For the defending champion Lady Tigers (91 points), this is the fifth-straight season the Lady Tigers have been chosen as favorites to win the Western Division.
TSU, which is expected to return much of its league-leading pitching staff and defense, received 15 first-place votes.
Prairie View A&M was tabbed to finish second with 58 points (two first-place votes), narrowly outpointing Arkansas-Pine Bluff (57 points; two first-place votes). Southern (51 points) and Grambling State (28 points) rounded out the projections out west.
2016 champion Alabama State earned 82 points (seven first-place votes), besting the incumbent Eastern Division champion Alcorn State (65 points, six first-place votes). Mississippi Valley State claimed 56 points (four first-place votes), Alabama A&M (47 points, one first-place vote) and Jackson State (35 points, one first-place vote) followed in the projections.
Alcorn State first baseman and reigning SWAC Player and Hitter of the Year Taylor Hughes is the preseason choice to repeat for the league’s highest individual honor. The Phoenix, Ariz. native hit .404 last season – good for second in the league – and was one of the top bats in SWAC ranks.
The senior ranked first in on-base percentage (.491) and doubles (17), tied for third in hits (59), was fourth in runs scored (38) and RBI (37) and ninth in slugging percentage (.575).
Hughes seeks to become the first player in at least a decade to repeat as outright Player of the Year, as Jackson State’s Cannesa Swanson shared the honors with Texas Southern’s Thomasina Garza in 2015 and won it outright in 2016.
Texas Southern’s Jasmin Fulmore, who won Pitcher of the Year accolades last season, went 11-5 in the circle in 2017 for the reigning champions. Along with teammate and fellow preseason first-teamer Lauren Rodriguez, Fulmore posted a sub-3.00 ERA, notching a 2.47 in the category.
She led the league with 97 strikeouts and threw three shutouts. The junior earned first-team accolades to close the season and also garnered preseason first-team honors this season.
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