Softball picked fifth in 2013 A-Sun preseason poll
Sophomore Ashley Simon
Sophomore Ashley Simon
The Jacksonville University softball team will start the season where it ended last year after being selected to finish fifth in the 2013 A-Sun preseason coaches’ poll released by the league office Thursday.

Defending champion Florida Gulf Coast was slated first with 100 points and all 10 first-place votes. Kennesaw State took second with 89 points, while USC Upstate (73), Lipscomb (67) and JU (58) made up the rest of the top five. Stetson (56), North Florida (40), Northern Kentucky (27), Mercer (27) and East Tennessee State (13) rounded out the rest of the poll.

JU was also picked fifth prior to the 2011 season before recording a school-record 44 wins to secure the A-Sun regular season and tournament titles for a berth into the NCAA Tournament.

In 2012, the Dolphins reached the 30-win plateau (31) for the third straight season and earned a spot in the conference tournament as the No. 5 seed.

As a team, JU ranked second in the A-Sun in hitting (.278) and third in ERA (2.11). The pitching staff finished second in strikeouts at 370.

Leading the crop of returners are second-team all-conference selections in juniors Karson Tuck and Codi Kelly and sophomore Ashley Simon.

Tuck batted .279 (43-154) with eight doubles, four home runs and 30 RBI in 54 games during her sophomore season. Kelly led the Dolphins in A-Sun play with a .364 (20-55) average and five doubles, while Simon batted .299 (35-117) with six doubles and 14 RBI to receive her accolades.

Senior Sarah Simon is also back after leading the Dolphins in RBI (40) and home runs (8), while ranking third in doubles (8) last season.

The Dolphins open the 2013 season Feb. 9 against Bethune-Cookman and Florida A&M at the FSU Tournament in Tallahassee, Fla.