Bennett one of three Owls to earn preseason softball honors

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Jan. 28—Kennesaw State's Melanie Bennett, a former Allatoona High School standout, was named to the ASUN preseason all-conference softball team this week.

The junior pitcher, who helped the Owls finish second in the conference last season, had 165 strikeouts and posted a team-best 1.97 ERA with 22 complete games and seven shutouts. Opponents had a batting average of .220 with Bennett in the circle.

Bennett was one of three Kennesaw State players named to the preseason squad, along with Taylor Cates and Brinaya Bailey.

It was Cates' second season on the preseason all-conference team. The senior infielder from Canton was a part of the 2021 first-team all-conference team, as well as the all-tournament and all-academic teams after batting .226 with a team-high 15 home runs and 41 RBIs.

Bailey, a junior infielder from Loganville, notched 14 RBIs on 17 hits, had the team's fourth-best batting average at .293 and posted a .964 fielding percentage last season.

Kennesaw State tied Liberty for the most all-conference selections with three.

In the preseason coaches poll, Kennesaw State was voted to finish second with 129 points. Liberty was picked to win the conference with 11 of the 12 first-place votes and 141 points overall.

Central Arkansas was picked third, while Florida Gulf Coast got the other first-place vote and was picked to finish fourth. Eastern Kentucky was picked fifth, followed by Lipscomb, North Florida, Jacksonville, Jacksonville State, North Alabama, Stetson and Bellarmine.

The Owls will open the 2022 season Feb. 11 against Loyola-Chicago in the first game of the JoAnne Graf Classic at Florida State. The home schedule will begin a week later with a doubleheader against Samford at Bailey Park.