The University of Central Arkansas had four players named to the 2011 Preseason All-Southland Conference softball teams.
The Bears were also picked seventh in the preseason coaches poll, while the league’s sports information directors’ projected UCA to finish eighth.
Senior designated player Shay Ristau and sophomore outfielder Candice Gauntt were named to the preseason first team, while junior first baseman Kasey Britt and sophomore catcher Melanie Bryant were selected to the second team.
Ristau, of Denton, Texas, was the first Bear to be named first team all-conference last season. She led the league and set a school record with 48 runs batted in and ranked second in the league with a .608 slugging percentage. Ristau also ranked fourth in the total bases with 93 and tied for fifth with 10 home runs.
Gauntt, a center fielder from Burleson, Texas, earned second team All-SLC honors in 2010. She led the league and set a school record with 45 runs scored and ranked 11th in the league with a team-best .324 batting average. Gauntt was second in the league, 21st nationally and third in UCA history with 33 stolen bases a year ago.
Britt, from Florence, Miss., was a 2010 All-SLC Third Team and NFCA All-South Region Second Team selection. She hit .321 last season and was second in the league with 14 doubles. Britt was also fifth in total bases (88), seventh in RBI (35), tied for eighth in runs (35) and ninth in slugging percentage (.553).
Bryant, a native of Hernando, Miss., was a third team all-conference selection last season. She tied for the team lead and tied for fifth in the Southland with five homers. Bryant was also tied for fifth in the league with 88 total bases and 10th with 33 RBI.
The Bears will start the 2011 season on Feb. 10 when they host Arkansas-Pine Bluff in a doubleheader at Farris Field.