ATLANTA – After winning its first MCLA Division I national championship last spring, South Carolina has been installed as the favorite in the 2020 New Balance Division I Preseason Coaches Poll, which was released on Wednesday.
The Gamecocks (21-2 in 2019) captured 19 of the 24 first-place votes to retain a 14-point edge over their closest competition. South Carolina will open the season in Baton Rouge, La., with games against No. 25 LSU (7-8) and Texas A&M (2-0 in 2020).
California (17-1), which fell to South Carolina in the 2019 title game, is comfortably in second place. The Golden Bears grabbed the remaining five first-place votes and were 28 points clear of third-ranked Chapman (17-3).
Georgia Tech (18-2) is No. 4 after advancing to the national semifinals last spring.
The SELC, which sent four teams to nationals in 2019, has four teams ranked in the Top 10 as No. 5 Liberty (16-2) and No. 8 Florida State (9-7) join the Gamecocks and Yellow Jackets.
2020 New Balance MCLA Division I Preseason Poll
Others receiving votes: Washington (43), USC (32), UC Santa Barbara (30), Texas A&M (21), Colorado State (17), Northeastern (16), Texas (8), Sonoma State (4), Florida (3), Simon Fraser (2), Indiana (1).