STARKVILLE, Miss. – The Salisbury University softball team is still three weeks from opening its 2011 campaign, but already the team is being recognized as one of the best in the nation. On Wednesday, the National Fastpitch Coaches Association released its Division III preseason poll, and the Sea Gulls will open the year as the No. 13 team in the nation.
Salisbury went 36-4 during the 2010 season, running the table in the Capital Athletic Conference and earning the program's 15th NCAA tournament bid.
The Sea Gulls will get a chance to prove themselves against two other teams that begin the season ranked in the top 10. Salisbury's third game of the year will be against No. 3 Louisiana College on Feb. 26 at the Methodist Early Bird Invitational. The Sea Gulls will also face off with No. 9 Christopher Newport University in three games this year; the teams will play a doubleheader in Newport News, Va., on March 1. The Captains will also come to Salisbury as part of the Salisbury University Invitational on March 11 and 12 at the Henry Parker Complex. The teams will meet on March 11.
Linfield College collected seven of eight possible first-place votes, had 199 points in the poll and will begin the year as the No. 1 team in the nation. Eastern Connecticut State University (172 points), Louisiana (171), DePauw University (158) and Luther College (146) round out the top five. East Texas Baptist University received the final first-place vote and will begin ranked No. 9 with 109 points while the Sea Gulls got 100 points to sit at No. 13.
Salisbury will open the season at the Methodist Early Bird Invitational on Feb. 25. The Sea Gulls will take on Roanoke College and N.C. Wesleyan College on that first day of action.