Six Pac-12 softball teams ranked in ESPN.com/USA Softball preseason poll

WALNUT CREEK, Calif. - Continuing the tradition of excellence in collegiate softball, six Pac-12 teams were ranked in the ESPN.com/USA Softball preseason poll, as announced by USA Softball this morning. Two teams received at least one first-place vote and eight teams received votes overall. 

WASHINGTON was the top Conference team in the preseason poll, coming in at fifth with two first-place votes. The Huskies finished last season tied for third in the Women’s College World Series, their best finish since winning the 2009 National Championship - one of 23 national titles for the Pac-12. UW returns three first-team All-Pac-12 members in seniors Hooch Fagaly, Kaitlin Inglesby and Victoria Hayward

ARIZONA STATE followed at seventh in the poll, receiving one first-place vote. The Sun Devils also return three first-team All-Pac-12 honorees with seniors Dallas Escobedo and Cheyenne Coyle along with the 2013 Pac-12 Player of the Year Amber Freeman. ASU welcomes new head coach Craig Nicholson to the helm, joining a league that already has some of the winningest coaches in NCAA Division I history. 

OREGON was directly behind the Sun Devils, placing eighth overall. The Ducks made their fourth-ever postseason appearance last season and captured the Pac-12 Championship and look to make an even deeper run in the tournament this year on the heels of senior Alexa Peterson and junior Janie Takeda, who led the Conference in batting average last year. UCLA landed at 13th in the preseason polling after making the NCAA Tournament for the 29th time in school history and finishing the year ranked 19th overall. The Bruins will be paced by juniors Stephany LaRosa and Ally Carda, two of the top performers for UCLA last season both at the plate and on the field. 

STANFORD came in at 20th in the poll after finishing the 2013 season with a 39-21 record and an NCAA Tournament regional appearance. Pac-12 Freshman of the Year Kayla Bonstrom returns for the Cardinal after leading the team in batting average last season. CALIFORNIA rounds out the Pac-12 selections in the top 25 of the poll, placing 24th. The Golden Bears look to make a deeper run in the postseason after falling in the regional round last year, and will be led by juniors Cheyenne Cordes and Danielle Henderson, two of the top three hitters on last season’s squad. ARIZONA and OREGON STATE also received votes in the poll. 

Measured by national championships, awards and Olympics success, the Pac-12 Conference has the most impressive legacy in collegiate softball. This year looks to be no different, with six teams in both the ESPN.com/USA Softball and the USA Today/NFCA preseason polls, reflecting the best talent that is consistently led by the best coaches in the game. The 2014 season will see more exposure than ever, with a record 69 games set to be televised through the regular season. For more information, including a full television schedule, visit www.pac-12.com

For the complete poll listing, visit www.usasoftball.com

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