The Oglethorpe women's basketball team returns to the court this week and brings back all seven players who started 10 or more games for them during their run to the SAA championship in 2017-18. The Stormy Petrels will be one of the most experienced teams in the league as they look to make it two conference titles in a row in 2018-19.
The squad comes off a 21-8 season in which they swept the SAA regular season and tournament championships and earned a spot in the NCAA tournament for the first time since 2009. They're receiving votes in all three notable Division III preseason polls (coaches, D3hoops.com and Women's DIII News) and were picked to repeat as conference champions by Women's DIII News.
The Petrels bring back six All-SAA performers from last season, including D3hoops.com Rookie of the Year and Women's DIII News all-American Savannah LeGate. She earned those two honors as well as D3hoops.com South All-Region first team and SAA Player of the Year in her freshman campaign. She's received several preseason accolades going into her sophomore season, including being named to preseason all-America lists by both D3hoops.com and Women's DIII News. She was also named preseason SAA Player of the Year by the latter publication.
She's not the only Oglethorpe starter returning, however. Senior guards Bailey Charles and Jada Triplett, senior forward Lauren Ransom, and junior guards Taylor Dodson and Sydney Long all earned All-SAA honorable mention for the Petrels last season and all return to this year's squad. The team returns seven other players from the 2017-18 squad, as well, for a total of 13 returners off of a team that won 20 games and a conference championship.
Senior guards Brooke Simpson and Clarissa Hopkins will make returns to this season's roster, as will junior forward Karlymarie Dyer and junior guard Morgan Grindle. Sophomore forwards Audrey Burdge and Hayden Neal will join sophomore guard Mimi Woods to round out the Oglethorpe returners.
The Petrels will have a challenging non-conference schedule, highlighted by a game against No. 3 Hope on Pinholster Court as part of the Quality Suites Holiday Classic on Dec. 20. They'll also face four other teams receiving votes in the D3hoops.com preseason poll. They'll start their season with a trip across town to take on Emory on Monday. They'll head to Birmingham, Alabama, five days later for the Richard Dardenne Memorial Classic. They'll go against Rose-Hulman on Saturday and Mary Hardin-Baylor on Sunday, both of whom earned preseason votes. Finally, they'll take on Calvin as part of the Quality Suites Holiday Classic on Dec. 21, a day after facing No. 3 Hope.
Outside of those contests, the Petrels will continue to take on their normal slate of non-conference regional opponents, with their home opener against Agnes Scott on Tuesday, a road game against Covenant on Sept. 20 and a home contest against Guilford on Dec. 16. They'll also head to LaGrange, Georgia, for the USA South/SAA Classic over Thanksgiving weekend, with games scheduled against Piedmont and LaGrange. The Petrels round out their non-conference schedule with a visit from North Park on Dec. 29. All told, the Petrels will face three teams that joined them in the NCAA tournament last season (Hope, Rose-Hulman and Piedmont).
After that, they'll enter their 14-game conference slate, getting underway Dec. 7 at Berry. The Oglethorpe SAA home opener will be Jan. 11 against Centre.
The Petrels get their season started Monday night at 6 p.m. with a trip to crosstown rival Emory. They'll then return to Dorough Field House for their home opener against Agnes Scott at 6 p.m on Tuesday.