The University of North Florida and Jacksonville University softball teams both return their leading hitter from last season.
ASUN coaches took note and named UNF catcher Ashley Goebel and JU infielder/outfielder Victoria Rodebaugh to the preseason all-conference team.
Both seniors, Goebel and Rodebaugh are the only players from either school to make the preseason All-ASUN team.
If the ASUN coaches' sentiments are any indication, the Ospreys and Dolphins are in for challenging seasons. UNF was picked seventh and JU eighth in the preseason ranking.
Goebel, from Jupiter, led UNF with a .397 average, the fifth-best in team history in the NCAA Division I era. She also scored 20 runs, drove in 20 and had eight doubles. Her on-base percentage was the ninth-best single-season mark in UNF Division I history.
Rodebaugh, a Eustis native who played the outfield and third base, hit .311.
UNF finished 21-23 last season, 9-9 in the conference. They were eliminated in the conference tournament by JU in a three-game series.
The Dolphins were 29-20, and also 9-9 in the conference. JU made the final four in the conference tournament and went 1-2.
The Ospreys graduated only one position starter and one pitcher, and have a key transfer in Savannah Channell of Keystone Heights, who was on the All-ASUN freshman team for Liberty last year. JU has a more extensive rebuild, losing five starters from the ASUN tournament team, including all-time school strikeout record-holder Alyssa Bilodeau at pitcher.
JU opens the season at home Feb. 11 with a doubleheader against N.C. State and Western Carolina. UNF also opens at home that day with a doubleheader against Campbell and Florida A&M.
Liberty was picked to repeat as conference champion, followed by Kennesaw State and Central Arkansas.
The only one of the three new ASUN members that UNF or JU had never played before this season is Central Arkansas (6-12, 3-2), who came to Jacksonville to face the Ospreys on Thursday and the Dolphins on Saturday.
Bears coach Anthony Boone might be a familiar name to college hoops junkies. He was a college teammate of University of Florida coach Mike White at Ole Miss when the Rebels went 22-7 in 1998, finishing first in the SEC West and 13th in the final AP poll.
Unfortunately, Boone and White played in the game that still makes Ole Miss fans shudder: the 70-69 loss in the NCAA tournament that season to Valparaiso, on Bryce Drew’s desperation 40-footer at the buzzer.
Central Arkansas played a daunting non-conference schedule, with losses to Baylor (coached by Scott Drew, the brother of Bryce who was an assistant for their father, Homer Drew, on that 1998 Valpo team), Arkansas, Texas A&M, Butler and St. Louis. The Bears have lived on the edge in the ASUN, with four of their five games decided by seven or fewer points.
JU gets SoCon honors
Five Jacksonville University men's lacrosse players were named to the preseason All-Southern Conference team and the Dolphins were picked third by the conference coaches behind defending tournament champion High Point and defending regular-season champion Richmond.
Graduate seniors Jack Dolan, Colin Hinton, Dixon Smith and Jason Yoquinto and redshirt junior Jordan Young were the Dolphins recognized. Dolan led the Dolphins with 29 goals and 20 assists last season and was a first-team All-SoCon selection. Hinton started in 11 games in goal and was third in the league in average goals allowed with 11.12.
UNF swimmers cited for GPA
The UNF swimming program earned its seventh consecutive College Swimming and Diving Coaches Association of America (CSCAA) Scholar All-America Team honor after posting a 3.44 grade point average during the fall 2021 semester.
UNF is now eligible for the Intercollegiate Coach Association Coalition All-Sport Academic standings after surpassing the 3.3 GPA threshold.
North Florida opens the spring season at Georgia Southern Saturday, Jan. 29.
The Scholar All-America teams were selected on the basis of their Fall 2021 grade point averages and represent 18,029 student-athletes. Of these teams 519 earned a GPA of 3.30 or above to make the cut for the Intercollegiate Coach Association Coalition All-Sport Academic Standings.
Gulihur breaks through early
UNF tennis senior Kit Gulihur was named the ASUN player of the week after remaining unbeaten in singles this season with a 7-6 (7-5), 6-4 victory over Florida's McCartney Kessler in the opening match of the year at No. 1 singles. Kessler was No. 4 in the Fall 2021 Preseason Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA) rankings.
Gulihur, an Oklahoma State transfer, is 2-0 at the top singles spot and 7-0 this season in singles, counting the fall.
Gulihur finished the fall ranked No. 32 in the ITA Rankings, winning the UNF Fall Invite Flight A Doubles East title to close the fall season.
This article originally appeared on Florida Times-Union: ASUN Notebook: UNF's Ashley Goebel, JU's Victoria Rodebaugh, named to preseason all-conference team