PERKINSTON — Mississippi Gulf Coast is ranked 5th in the NJCAA Division II Preseason Softball Poll, released today.
The Lady Bulldogs, who have won 91 games over the past two seasons, went 45-7 and finished the regular season ranked third.
"It's always good for our team and program to be ranked high," Gulf Coast coach Kenneth Long said, "but we all know it's not the preseason ranking that's important, it's where you finish the season. We've got to play well and see if we can live up to where they've got us."
Gulf Coast returns All-American Lexie Mathis, who set a school record with 17 home runs while driving in 60 runs and batting .436. She had seven three-hit games and nine games with three or more RBI, including a six-RBI game against Holmes.
Izzy Werdann, a sophomore catcher/third baseman from Tate High School in Pensacola, Fla., also returns for the Lady Bulldogs. She was named to the All-MACJC team after hitting .323 with five home runs and 41 RBI. Her biggest hit of the year was a three-run home run in the sixth-inning of an MACJC Tournament game against Itawamba that Gulf Coast won 3-2.
Long is nine games away from reaching the 500-win mark. He is 491-188 heading into his 16th season at Gulf Coast.
Gulf Coast opens the season Feb. 1 on the road at Faulkner State. The Lady Bulldogs first home doubleheader will be Feb. 9 when they entertain Alabama Southern at East Central High School in Hurley.
The team will be splitting home games between East Central, Biloxi and West Harrison high schools while Ross-Smith Field gets a new stadium. It is expected to open for the 2018 season.
For more information on MGCCC's 10 intercollegiate athletic teams, follow @MGCCCAthletics on Twitter and BulldogLIVE on Facebook, and go to mgcccbulldogs.com.