Northwestern State softball landed five players on the 2023 Preseason All-Southland Conference squad and was picked to finish third at season’s end, the league office announced on Thursday.
The Lady Demons collected 91 points in the poll of the league’s coaches and sports information directors, placing them behind McNeese, who received 128 points and 16 first-place votes, and Southeastern with 113 points and two first-place votes.
For the second straight season the top three teams in the preseason poll all hail from Louisiana.
Players from the trio of NSU, McNeese and Southeastern also make up the entire first-team preseason squad and were members of the 2022 all-conference teams.
Outfielder Laney Roos and pitcher Bronte Rhoden earn the first preseason first-team selections of their careers. Tristin Court, Makenzie Chaffin and Bailie Ragsdale also picked up their first preseason selections with spots on the second team.
The five total for the Demons matches Southeastern for the second most overall, behind McNeese’s seven.
Roos led the Demon offense a year ago in nearly every category slashing .365/.431/.547 with six home runs, 11 doubles and 32 RBI. Ragsdale was second on team in batting with a .311 average while Chaffin finished fourth at .270, behind all-conference snub from a year ago Keely Dubois who hit a tick below .300 and led the team in RBI.
Seven of the eight position players from a season ago, including all four preseason selections, are returning for the Demons in 2023.
Rhoden leads a now more experienced pitching staff into the season with her preseason honor following a career 2022 campaign.
The Plano, Texas, native had bests in ERA, wins, strikeouts and opponent batting averages and allowed a team-best nine extra base hits during the season including no home runs allowed.
Rhoden and redshirt sophomore Maggie Darr had two of the top three lowest overall ERAs during the 2022 season with all four pitchers that saw action a season ago ranked in the top 10 – Darr (1), Rhoden (3), Sage Hoover (6) and Kenzie Seely (9).
NSU opens its season in Huntsville, Texas at the Bearkat Invitational hosted by Sam Houston State on Feb. 10. The first home game of the season comes two weeks later on Feb. 22 against Grambling.