Women's Hoops Picked to Finish Fifth in HCAC Pre-Season Rankings

Photo courtesy of Quinn Fitzgerald
Photo courtesy of Quinn Fitzgerald

CARMEL, Ind. – The Franklin College women's basketball team has been picked to finish fifth in the Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference (HCAC) by the league's 10 coaches in the annual pre-season rankings, which were released on Thursday (Oct. 31) afternoon.

The Grizzlies return nine letter-winners that all saw valuable minutes a season ago. Franklin collected 54 points in the poll, slotting them between Bluffton and Anderson in the fifth slot.

Four returners were christened as "Players to Watch" by the league, with Bayleigh Walker, Jessica Nix, Destinee Cross and Britney Ballard being recognized among the league's elite.

An Honorable Mention All-HCAC selection in 2018-19, Walker led the Grizzlies with 13.3 points per game on 50.3% shooting while hauling in 6.6 rebounds per contest. The Plainfield, Ind.-native hit double figure point totals in 18 of Franklin's 25 games a year ago, recording a team-high five double-doubles.

Another Honorable Mention All-HCAC selection, Nix played in all 25 games as a true freshman, averaging 6.6 points and 5.0 rebounds per contest while playing 17 minutes per night. The Martinsville, Ind.-native recorded eight games with double digit points, connecting on 50% of her field goals and 71.4% of her free throws.

Ballard also enjoyed a strong freshman campaign last year, ranking third on the Grizzlies with 8.0 points per game while knocking down a team-high 33.9% of her threes. The Columbus, Ind.-native set a career-high with 23 points in a late-season meeting with Manchester, knocking down a career-high nine field goals in the FC win.

Cross averaged 5.6 points and 4.4 rebounds per contest while playing in all 25 games and making 18 starts as a freshman. The West Lafayette, Ind.-native had four games with 10 or more points, setting a career-high with 15 points against Rose-Hulman on Feb. 6.

Transylvania was selected to repeat as league champions, finishing just ahead of Hanover and Rose-Hulman in the rankings. The entire poll can be found below.

Franklin tips off the regular season on Nov. 22, taking on the Wilmington Quakers at the Wilmington Fred Raizk Memorial Tournament.

2019-20 HCAC Women's Basketball Pre-Season Poll
Team (First Place Votes) Points
1. Transylvania (8) 90
2. Hanover (1) 88
3. Rose-Hulman (1) 62
4. Anderson 59
5. Franklin  54
6. Bluffton 52
7. Defiance 50
8. Earlham 39
9. Mount St. Joseph 38
10. Manchester 18