Pac-10 Softball Coaches Pick Arizona and UCLA as 2011 Favorites

WALNUT CREEK, Calif. -- By a vote of the Conference's softball coaches, defending national champion UCLA and national runner-up Arizona tied atop the preseason coaches' poll, with 46 points apiece and four first-place votes each. This is not the first time in Conference history that the Bruins and Wildcats have tied atop the poll, as it previously happened in 2001 and 2002.

UCLA defeated Arizona to win the 2010 NCAA Women's College World Series, 2-0, in the final. The Bruins finished the season 50-11 and 14-7 in Pac-10 play. The squad will return six starters and three pitchers for the 2011 season.

The Wildcats enter into 2011 following a 2010 season where they finished 52-14 and 13-8 in the Pac-10. Arizona will look to avenge its loss to Pac-10 rival UCLA in the 2010 NCAA Women's College World Series final this season, as they return 9-of-10 players from last year's regular scorecard, including stellar pitcher Kenzie Fowler. 

Arizona State, the 2008 NCAA champion, was picked third with 30 points. The Sun Devils are building off a strong 2010 season where they went 44-17 and 10-11 in Pac-10 play. ASU returns eight starters from last season's team that advanced to its fifth-consecutive NCAA Super Regional. 

CALIFORNIA and WASHINGTON, with 26 points each, tied for the fourth position in the poll. The Golden Bears are coming off an NCAA Super Regional season, where they went 44-19 on the season and 10-11 in Pac-10 play. The Huskies turned in a stellar 50-9 season in 2010 and won the Pac-10 behind strong senior pitching of Danielle Lawrie. UW advanced to the NCAA Women's College World Series, but were knocked out by Arizona.

STANFORD was picked sixth in the poll with 22 points, OREGON followed close behind with 21 and OREGON STATE was picked eighth with seven points.

The 2011 Pac-10 softball season kicks off on Feb. 10, as Arizona, Arizona State, Oregon and Oregon State all turn to the diamond. The rest of the squads, including the Bruins and Wildcats, will begin their seasons on Feb. 11.

Following are the results of the preseason coaches' poll. Coaches are not allowed to vote for their own teams (points 7-6-5-4-3-2-1, first place votes in parentheses)

 
1. Arizona (4) 46
    UCLA (4) 46
3. Arizona State 30
4. California 26
    Washington 26
6. Stanford 22
7. Oregon 21
8. Oregon State 7
 
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