The Howard Payne Lady Jackets are picked to finish 11th out of 12 teams in the American Southwest Conference softball race, according to the preseason coaches and media poll released earlier this week.
The Lady Jackets (9-29-2, 6-24) received 65 points in the poll, 10 more than Hardin-Simmons (1-37, 1-29), which is tabbed to come in last place.
East Texas Baptist (33-13, 24-6), with 291 points in the poll and 15 first-place votes, is the ASC favorite. Defending ASC champion UT Tyler (44-5) will not count in the 2019 standings and is not eligible for the ASC or NCAA Championship due to the Patriots reclassifying to NCAA Division II.
Mary Hardin-Baylor (29-14, 22-8), with 285 points and nine first-place votes, is picked to come in second followed by Concordia (25-18, 19-11) with 249 points, UT-Dallas (24-18, 19-11) with 229 points, Louisiana College (22-18, 19-11) with 182 points and one first-place vote, Belhaven (26-17, 11-13) with 177 points, Sul Ross (18-21, 15-15) with 151 points, LeTourneau (15-23, 11-19) with 130 points and one first-place vote, McMurry (10-30, 6-24) with 110 points, Ozarks (10-22, 10-17) with 93 points, then Howard Payne and Hardin-Simmons.
The top eight seeds will advance to the ASC championship tournament May 2-4 at the site of the No. 1 seed. Belhaven is also ineligible for postseason play due to still being an NCAA Division III provisional program.
The ASC also released its Players to Watch list, but no Lady Jackets were named among the 36 selections.
Howard Payne will open its season Feb. 5 with a home doubleheader against Jarvis Christian College. The Lady Jackets begin ASC action with three games at Belhaven Feb. 15-16.