Seven Pac-12 teams ranked in preseason poll
By the Pac-12 Conference
WALNUT CREEK, Calif. - Seven Pac-12 teams were ranked in the ESPN.com/USA Softball Collegiate Top 25 preseason poll as announced Tuesday.
CALIFORNIA led the Conference being ranked No. 3. The Golden Bears finished last season ranked in the same spot with a 58-7 record and claimed the 2012 Pac-12 title. The Golden Bears benefit from the return of the 2012 Pac-12 Pitcher of the Year, Jolene Henderson. Head Coach Diane Ninemire returns after being voted the 2012 Pac-12 Coach of the Year.
The Sun Devils are right behind Cal as they come in at No. 4. ARIZONA STATE returns 13 letterwinners from last season and will have to replace just four position starters and one starting pitcher. The biggest loss of the Sun Devils will be 2012 graduate Hilary Bach, a finalist for the 2012 NCAA Woman of the Year award. ASU can rely on the return of SS Katelyn Boyd, OF Alix Johnson and C Amber Freeman.
The OREGON Ducks round out the top ten for the Pac-12 as they are ranked No. 6 after finishing last season ranked No. 5 and tallied a 45-8 record. The Ducks advanced last season to just their second-ever WCWS in program history. With returnees such as OF Samantha Pappas and C Alexa Peterson Oregon can expect another strong season.
ARIZONA is the next Pac-12 team to be found on the poll with a No. 14 ranking. The Wildcats will face the loss of nine letterwinners this season. The team can rely on 3B Brigette Del Ponte and OF Hallie Wilson, both 2012 All-Pac-12 team honorees.
Coming in at No. 16 are the Huskies coming off of winning their seventh regional tournament in eight years. UT/P Kaitlin Inglesby returns after being named a Top 25 finalist for the USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year.
UCLA is No. 19 with STANFORD right behind them at No. 20 rounding out the ranked Pac-12 teams. The Bruins return 2012 Pac-12 Freshman of the Year, Stephany LaRosa. The Cardinal finished last season with a 40-19 record and is returning 13 letterwinners from the 2012 season.
OREGON STATE received votes but did not reach a Top 25 ranking.
The Pac-12 kicks off its season on Feb. 7 with six teams at the Kajikawa Classic hosted by Arizona State and UCLA hosting the Stacy Winsberg Memorial Tournament.
To see a complete listing of the poll visit here.