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The Stetson University softball team has been picked to finish sixth in the 2013 Atlantic Sun Conference preseason coaches poll, which was released on Thursday.

The Hatters, who were 26-22 overall in 2012 and 9-9 in the A-Sun, received 56 points in the poll, just two behind fifth-ranked Jacksonville.

Florida Gulf Coast received all 10 first place votes (100 points) and was predicted to repeat as regular season champions.  Kennesaw State (89 points), USC Upstate (73), and Lipscomb (67) claimed spots two through four.  After Jacksonville and Stetson, UNF (40), Northern Kentucky (27), Mercer (27), and ETSU (13) rounded out the poll.

While no Hatters were selected to the coaches' preseason all-conference team, junior Chrissy Morello (Ormond Beach, Fla.) and sophomore Courtney Brandt (Dade City, Fla.) were selected to the College Sports Madness A-Sun preseason all-conference second team.  

Morello, a two-time second-team all-conference performer, batted .295 last season with 25 runs scored and 21 stolen bases.  She recorded a 10-game hitting streak during the month of April and did not commit an error all season in center field.

Brandt, an Atlantic Sun all-freshman team selection last year, registered 11 wins in the circle with 2.20 ERA and 97 strikeouts.  She tossed four shutouts, including a four-hit blanking of USC Upstate in the opening game of the A-Sun Championship, and later earned a spot on the all-tournament team.

The Hatters open the 2013 season on Friday, February 8 against Michigan State and South Carolina in the Stetson Lead-Off Classic at Patricia Wilson Field.  For season ticket information call the Stetson Athletics ticket office at (386) 738-HATS.

Fans can also follow Stetson Softball all season long on twitter (@StetsonSoftball), facebook (Stetson Athletics, Stetson Fastpitch), and with the new Hat-Alerts text messaging service.  All games will be broadcast for free on HatterVision or ASun.TV.

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