TERRE HAUTE, IND. -- The Rose-Hulman women's basketball team has been selected to finish sixth in the Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference this season, in a preseason poll of league coaches released Tuesday.
Hanover College and Franklin College were picked first and second, respectively, with just two poll points separating the two squads.
Transylvania was picked third, with Manchester and Defiance rounding out the top five. Rose-Hulman was picked sixth, with Bluffton, Mount St. Joseph, Anderson and Earlham rounding out the poll.
The top six teams will qualify for the HCAC Tournament in February. Last season, Rose-Hulman earned its first postseason victory in women's basketball history with a win over Manchester in the first round of the HCAC Tournament.
Rose-Hulman features the return of four starters and seven letter winners from the 2011-12 squad this winter. Returning starters include juniors Heather Finnell (Decatur, Tenn./Cleveland) and Kelsey Ploof (Noblesville), along with sophomore Grace Gibbs (Parker, Colo./Ponderosa) and Sheree Williams (Bluffton, S.C.).
The Engineers also receive a boost from the return of senior Lauren Meadows (Indianapolis/Brebeuf/DePauw U.) who started two seasons ago and missed last year due to injury.
Other returning letter winners for the Fightin' Engineers include junior Jaci Dalton (Hamilton, Mich./Black River) and sophomore Emily Fuhs (Jasper/Northeast Dubois). The team also features seven talented freshmen for the largest preseason team roster in the last five years.
Rose-Hulman opens the 2012-13 season with a trip to the Emory University Tip-off Tournament in Atlanta on Nov. 17-18.