North Carolina (43- 15, 13-4 ACC) finished last season as the ACC regular season champions. The Tar Heels have now won four regular season conference crowns and have a 1,297-709-5 record all-time.
The Tar Heels finished last year ranked 24th in the nation and reached the NCAA Tournament for a 10th time in 2012. UNC is 12-20 all-time in the NCAA Tournament after going 2-2 in 2012.
The Tar Heels return 15 letterwinners and will have seven newcomers on the 2013 squad. UNC has nine infielders (six returnees), four catchers (three returnees), five outfielders (four returnees) and four pitchers (three returnees) on their current roster.
Junior outfielder Amy Nece leads the Tar Heel returning positional players. Nece hit .353, scored 31 runs and had 37 hits last season. Senior C/INF Haleigh Dickey hit .264 with 46RBIs and led the Tar Heels with 12 home runs. Senior 1B/INF Constance Orr batted .315, drove in 32 runs and had a.577 slugging percentage.
Junior right hander Lori Spingola is UNC’s top returning pitcher. Spingola, who led the squad with 49 appearances, was 33-12 and posted a 1.87 ERA in 269.2 innings. She set the school record for wins and innings pitched. Spingola threw two no-hitters and topped the ACC with 333 strikeouts. Juniors Ashley Bone ( 6-2,2.76 ERA in 71 innings) and Sara Buchholz (4-1) along with freshman left-hander Lauren Fuller.
Florida State (47-16) received their 25th NCAA Tournament bid and 13th straight last year. The Seminoles have won 11 ACC titles and two national crowns throughout their history.
Florida State is led by five seniors, starting with infielder Tiffani Brown. Brown, an All-ACC First Team selection in 2012,hit .301 with four triples and 14 RBIs a season ago. She also led the ACC with 43 stolen bases.
Outfielders Kirstin Austin and Morgan Bullock, infielder Briana Hamilton along with pitcher Monica Perry are the Seminoles other four key seniors. Last year, Austin hit .281 with one home run in 56 games while Bullock batted .288 and stole six bases. Hamilton hit only .234 but had a team-high 12 home runs to go along with 29 RBIs.
Perry was 22-6 on the mound with a 1.54 ERA in 191.0 innings last year. She threw 14 complete games and recorded 199 strikeouts.
Florida State will also count on redshirt junior Jessica Nori along with sophomores Lacy Waldrop and Bailey Schinella to limit opposing hitters. Nori went 4-4 with a 2.06 ERA and four saves in 24 appearances while Waldrop was 19-5 and posted a team-best 1.33ERA in 34 games, including 26 starts last year. Waldrop also threw 10 complete games and had two saves. Schinella was 2-1 with 1.67 ERA in 13 appearances. She tied Nori with a team-high four saves, which is a Seminole single-season record.
Georgia Tech (37-23) finished third in the regular season but won the ACC Tournament to receive the conference’s automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament. The Yellow Jackets, who are under the direction of head coach Sharon Perkins (337-107, six years), have made 11 straight NCAA Tournament appearances. Georgia Tech has won four ACC regular season crowns and five ACC titles in their history.
Georgia Tech returns six starters and two pitchers. Juniors C/3B Alysha Rudnik (. 289 avg., 9 HRs and 35 RBIs) and SS Ashley Thomas (.275 avg., 2 HRs and 20 RBIs) lead the Yellow Jackets returning positional players. Senior Hope Rush (26-12 with a 2.58 ERA in 248.0 innings) is the team’s top returning starter.
Virginia Tech (42-21) made their fifth NCAA Tournament of their program’s history after finishing tied for third in the regular season and runners-up in the conference tournament.
The Hokies return most of their starting lineup as they lost only two seniors from last year’s squad. Virginia Tech will count on senior first baseman Courtney Liddle (.306 avg., 8 HRs and 34 RBIs), sophomore outfielder Lauren Caskill (.312 avg., 6 HRs, 35 RBIs and 24 SBs), sophomore second basemen Kylie McGoldrick (.264 avg. 4 HRs and 27 RBIs), junior outfielder Dani Anderson ( .244 avg., 2 HRs and 18 RBIs), sophomore third basemen Kelsey Mericka (.264 avg. 9 HRs and 45 RBIs), senior catcher Betty Rose (5 HRs and 23 RBIs) and junior college transfer Amanda Ake. Ake, a junior shortstop, batted .404 with 10 home runs for Tallahassee Community College last season.
On the mound, Virginia Tech has a solid one-two punch in senior Jasmin Harrell (31-16, 1.96 ERA, 288.2 IP) and sophomore Bailey Liddle (8-4, 3.38 ERA, 91 IP). The Hokies will also count on freshmen Kelly Heinz and Maggie Tyler to eat some innings.
Virginia (26-25) has a relatively small roster as they have 11 players returning and four newcomers. The Cavaliers have a good core returning including: junior utility player Marcy Bowdren (.252 avg., 6 HRs and 25 RBIs), senior SS/2B Alex Skinkis (.278 avg., 2 HRs, 22 RBIs and 9 SBs), junior 2B/3B Erica Cipolloni (.300 avg., 7 HRs, 10 SBsand 19 RBIs), junior 1B/3B/OF Stephanie Harris (.217 avg., 4 HRs, 8 SBs and 15 RBIs) and senior OF Taylor Williams (.210 avg. and 10 SBs).
Senior Melanie Mitchell will be counted on to be Virginia’s top starter again this season. Last year, Mitchell went 19-13 with a 1.55 ERA in 212.1 innings. She threw 28 complete games including three shutouts.
North Carolina State (23-31) returns 11 letterwinners including eight starters from last season’s team that finished in seventh place in the conference. The Wolfpack have made two NCAA Tournament appearances since their program’s inception in 2004.
Junior 3B/OF Scout Albertson (5 HRs and 32 RBIs), sophomore SS Renada Davis (.362 avg., 5 HRs and 26 RBIs), senior OF Bethaney Wells (.293 avg., 11 HRs, 39RBIs), senior 2B/SS Katie Mansilla (.290 avg., 1 HRs, 14 RBIs and 7 SBs) and senior OF Caitlin Dent ( 4 HRs and 16 RBIs) lead the Wolfpack returnees.
Sophomore Emily Welman (14-18, 2.65 ERA in 208.1 innings) is N.C. State’s lone returning pitcher.
Maryland (34-22) reached the NCAA Tournament for the fourth time in school history last season. The Terrapins return 11 letterwinners from that squad.
Junior 1B/OF Candace Beards, an NFCA All-Region First Team selection, leads the returning players for Maryland. Beards hit .318 with 3 home runs and 34 RBIs last season.
Other key Terrapin returnees include sophomore catcher Shannon Bustillos (.281 avg., 7 HRs and 33 RBIs), senior P/INF Lexi Carroll (.272 avg., and 13 RBIs), senior IF/OF Nikki Maier (.280 avg., 5 HRs and 30 RBIs), junior OF Amanda McCann (.256 avg., and 7 SBs), junior 3B Jessica Warner (transfer from
UMBC) and junior 1B Mandy Gardner (transfer from Michigan).
Sophomore Kaitlyn Schmeiser is the Terrapins lone returning pitcher. She went 7-6 with a 4.61 ERA and one save in 23 appearances last season. Maryland will also count on freshmen Breanna Nation and Samantha Schweickhardt along with Carroll to get opposing hitters out.
Boston College (23-30) returns 11 players from their 2012 season that went 3-15 in the ACC last season. Leading the way for the Eagles is senior P/IF Nicole D’Argento (.338 avg., 9 HR, 31 RBIs; 10-13, 3.77 ERA and 5 saves), senior OF Maria Pandolfo (.300 avg.), and sophomore SS/2B Andrea Filler (.302 avg., 7 HRs and 19 RBIs)..