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Lora Beth Wood and Lauren Rakes
Lora Beth Wood (L) and Lauren Rakes (R) both made the South Atlantic Conference preseason All-Conference team.
photo courtesy of Lenoir-Rhyne Athletics

Lenoir-Rhyne Softball Picked to Finish Second in Conference, Six Named Preseason All-Conferece

After finishing second in the league last year, the LR Softball Team was tabbed to finish in the same spot in 2024 according to the South Atlantic Conference Preseason Coaches’ Poll as released by the league Thursday morning. The Bears also had six players named Preseason All-Conference, including four on the first team.

Outfielders Kaylan Brown and Cassidy Wall are joined on the Preseason First Team All-Conference squad by UTL/P Lauren Rakes and SS Katelyn Rackard. In her freshman season, Brown hit .321 with 3 HR and 20 RBI while playing a strong defensive CF and going 9-for-9 in stolen bases. Wall, the 2022 SAC Freshman of the Year, had a strong sophomore campaign that saw her hit 8 HR with 35 RBI and hit .391 with 40 runs scored. Rackard, a junior SS, led the Bears with a .428 batting average and second with a 1.215 OPS had 68 hits, 53 runs scored and a .492 OBP to go with 11 HR and 37 RBI. Rackard also went 17-for-19 in stolen bases. Rakes, a two-way standout, hit .311 with a 1.070 OPS and 9 HR with 28 RBI also went 9-4 in the circle with a 3.06 ERA and 121 strikeouts in 84.2 innings. Rakes ranks eighth in program history in career pitching appearances and sixth with 618 strikeouts.

Infielders Lora Beth Wood and Julia Mardigian were selected to the Second Team Preseason All-Conference. Wood, a 1B, was second on the team last year with a .413 batting average and had 11 HR with 37 BI while walking (18) more times than she struck out (16). 2B Mardigian was another sophomore standout as she hit .337 with 38 runs scored, 7 HR and 36 RBI. Mardigian only struck out six times in her 178 at bats a season ago.

The Bears advanced to the NCAA Tournament a season ago, the 15th NCAA appearance in program history. LR is entering the 25th year under head coach Shena Hollar who is only 29 wins away from 1,000 in her illustrious career.

2024 Softball Preseason Poll
Rank School (First Place Votes) Score
1 Wingate (11) 143
2 Lenoir-Rhyne 129
3 Lincoln Memorial (2) 112
4 Carson-Newman 108
5 Emory & Henry 99
6 Anderson 84
T-7 Catawba 82
T-7 Newberry 82
9 Limestone 53
10 Tusculum 47
11 Coker 37
T-12 Mars Hill 19
T-12 UVA Wise 19

2024 SAC Softball PRESEASON All-Conference

All-SAC First Team
OF – Kaylee Hobgood, Wingate
OF – Cassidy Wall, Lenoir-Rhyne
OF – Kaylan Brown, Lenoir-Rhyne
1B – Santana Anderson, Limestone
2B – Savanna Brooks, Wingate
SS – Katelyn Rackard, Lenoir-Rhyne
3B – Ragan Liles, Wingate
DP – Macauley Bailey, Carson-Newman
UTL/Non-P – Macey Hughes, Carson-Newman
UTL/P – Lauren Rakes, Lenoir-Rhyne
C – Raelynn Kramer, Wingate
P – Raechel Cutcher, Wingate
P – Olivia Chestnut, Newberry

All-SAC Second Team
OF – Mackenzie Williams, Emory & Henry
OF – Madison Henry, Lincoln Memorial
OF – Ariana Fair, Coker
1B – Lora Beth Wood, Lenoir-Rhyne
2B – Julia Mardigian, Lenoir-Rhyne
SS – Heaven Maness, Wingate
3B – Sterre den Duijn, Lincoln Memorial
DP – Mackenzie Turner, Newberry
UTL/Non-P – Katie Wilbur, Limestone
UTL/P – Riley Tucker, Catawba
C – Mackenzie Turner, Newberry
P – Alexandra Baquie, Catawba
P – Emma Frost, Carson-Newman

All-SAC Third Team
OF – Leah Evans, Newberry
OF – Claire Smeltzer, Tusculum
OF – Maddie Carpenter, Anderson
1B – Sierra Brogdon, Newberry
2B – Abigail Street, Emory & Henry
SS – Brianna Gallagher, Catawba
3B – Hailey Hill, Newberry
DP – Katie Tuggle, Lincoln Memorial
UTL/Non-P – Hannah Stevens, Wingate
UTL/P – Carson Hobbs, Anderson
C – Sammy Jimenez, Tusculum
P – Sydney Kale, Wingate
P – Emily Sappington, Tusculum