RICHMOND, Ky. – The Eastern Kentucky University softball team was predicted to finish third in the Ohio Valley Conference for the 2015 season. The order of finish was voted upon by the league’s head softball coaches and sports information directors, excluding the option to vote for their own team.

The Colonels return seven position starters and three starting pitchers. The returning squad helped record 29 wins in the 2014 season, 15 in conference play. One returnee, senior pitcher Leanna Pittsenbarger, received not only All-OVC honors last year, but also NFCA All-Region honors. EKU has also added seven new student-athletes to this year’s roster.

SIUE won the conference title in 2014, and is again deemed to finish first, tallying 238 points. Jacksonville State was tabbed second with 215 points. EKU came in right behind with 191.

The 2015 OVC championship tournament will feature the top eight teams. The tournament will be held May 6-9 on the home turf of the number one seed.

Eastern will begin its season at the Sand Dollar Classic on February 5 in Gulf Shores, Alabama. Action on Gertrude Hood field will come early this year, beginning with the Colonels hosting the EKU Invitational with two games on Feb. 21 and two on the 22nd against Kent State, Western Michigan, and Louisville. The conference slate begins March 14.

(as voted on by the league’s head softball coaches and sports information directors)

1. SIUE (18 first-place votes) – 238
2. Jacksonville State (Five first-place votes) – 215
3. Eastern Kentucky (One first-place vote) – 191
4. Murray State – 185
5. UT Martin – 156
6. Tennessee Tech – 142
7. Eastern Illinois – 141
8. Morehead State – 88
t9. Austin Peay – 73
t9. Belmont – 73
11. Southeast Missouri – 48
12. Tennessee State – 34

(*Schools were not allowed to rank their own team. 11 points awarded for a first-place vote, 10 for second, etc.)