Hanover College softball was picked to finish fourth and baseball was selected to finish ninth in the Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference preseason coaches polls.

Hanover’s softball team received 52 total votes and finished in a three-way tie with Defiance and Manchester for fourth in the standings. Transylvania was tabbed as the favorite with 81 points and seven first-place votes while Mount St. Joseph was second with 74 points and two first-place votes. Franklin, the defending tournament champions, was picked to place third with 66 points.

Rounding out the poll was Anderson (50 points), Rose-Hulman (32), and Bluffton (27).

Hanover went 19-17 in coach Cori Collinsworth’s first year at the helm last season, including 7-9 in HCAC play. This year marks the sixth consecutive year that Hanover has been picked to place in the top five.

The Panthers return 11 players, lead by all-HCAC honorable mention selection Mackenzie Smith, a junior pitcher from Jeffersonville, and Lili Beurman, a sophomore pitcher from Evansville.

Shelby Edington, a junior shortstop from New Goshen, was also selected as a player to watch.

Hanover opens the season on Sunday, Feb. 24 against Cabrini (Pa.) and Northern Vermont-Johnson in Clermont, Florida.

Hanover’s baseball team picked up 25 points to place ninth overall in the poll. Defending conference champion Franklin scored seven first-place votes and 96 points overall and was selected as the favorite with Anderson second with 83 points and one first-place vote and Rose-Hulman third with 82 points and the final first-place vote.

Earlham was fourth with 62 points and was followed by Manchester (53), Transylvania (52), Bluffton (43), Mount St. Joseph (32), Hanover (25), and Defiance (22).

This season will mark the first for new head coach Grant Bellak, who joins the Panthers after a seven-year stint as an assistant at Franklin. Hanover returns two all-conference selections in Josh Meszaros, a senior from Loveland, Ohio, and Garrett Zorb, a senior from Medina, Ohio.

Tyler Finch, a senior from Crestwood, Kentucky, was an all-HCAC honorable mention pick last year while David Herrmann and Chase Sizemore, both seniors from Fishers, were named as players to watch.

Hanover will open the season with its annual Winter Break trip to Florida Monday, Feb. 25, through Saturday, March 2. The season-opener will come against Cabrini (Pa.) at 1:30 p.m. on Monday, Feb. 25. The team’s home opener is Tuesday, March 5 against Spalding.