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first_imgFULL GSC RELEASE BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – Senior Becca Taylor and sophomore Rhiannon Sassman were chosen by the coaches in the Gulf South Conference as preseason all-conference performers, the conference announced on Wednesday. The pair made up two of fifteen preseason selections, and UWF was picked fourth in the preseason coaches poll. West Florida was picked to finish fourth in the coaches poll after finishing in that same spot in the league last year with a 23-10 record, which was the most conference wins since 2005. Last season was the first time UWF made an appearance in the NCAA Tournament since 2010. Reigning national champion North Alabama was a unanimous choice for the top spot in the poll, earning all 11 possible first-place votes. Alabama Huntsville finished second, Valdosta State finished third, and Delta State rounded out the top five. Rhiannon Sassman earned first team All-America honors from the NFCA as a utility player, becoming the first Argonaut to do so since 2010. She was the only freshman to earn a spot on the NFCA’s All-America team and led UWF in hits (65), doubles (14), triples (6) and total bases (103), while hitting .460 during West Florida’s 16-game winning streak in the middle of the season. Sassman concluded her season with the highest batting average for a freshman in program history (.342) and was the first UWF player with at least 100 total bases since All-Americans Shannon Miles and Amber Ingram did so in 2010. She was also the only player in the GSC last year to earn a conference player of the week nod more than once last season, doing so on February 16 and April 12. The team begins its season at the Gulf Coast Invitational in Gulf Shores, Alabama, on February 3-5. The first game will be against Miles on that Friday, followed by games against Rollins, Missouri-St. Louis, North Georgia and Tuskegee. Rollins, UMSL and North Georgia were each ranked in the final NFCA Coaches Poll last season.center_img Tiona Hill was selected as the team’s top newcomer by head coach Melissa Paul. Hill, a junior transfer from the College of Central Florida, was an all-conference infielder and hit .392 with eight home runs and 14 doubles. Taylor ranked fourth in the GSC with a 2.21 ERA in 31 games last season and ranked second in the conference with 0.83 walks per seven innings. The Panama City, Florida, native was one of five pitchers to make the preseason all-conference team, joining 2016 All-GSC picks Hilary Carpenter, Raven Cole and Tyler Harrison. Taylor’s performance got stronger as the year went on, going three consecutive complete games in the NCAA DII South Regional with a 1.67 ERA. Her walk rate from last year ranks as the fifth-best in UWF single-season history, and her career walk rate (1.02 walks per seven innings) ranks third in the school record books. #ARGOS#Print Friendly Versionlast_img read more