California Picked Sixth in Preseason Coaches Poll

Jan. 29, 2008

Berkeley - The California softball team was picked to finish in sixth place according to the annual Pac-10 softball preseason coaches poll released on Tuesday by the conference office.

The Bears received 18 points, ahead of Oregon State (picked seventh) and Oregon (picked eighth). Arizona was selected as the top team in the conference, receiving 45 points and four first place votes, while Arizona State finished in a close second, earning a split of the first place votes and 44 total points. UCLA was picked third, followed by Stanford (fourth) and Washington (fifth).

The Golden Bears return six position starters plus two starting pitchers for 2008. Cal also has three seniors on the squad - Julie Meyer, Erika Racklin and Katie Vickers.

Cal also welcomes five newcomers to the team this season - Valerie Arioto, Carrie Arth, Lauren Bauer, Savannah Hensley and Sanoe Kekahuna.

One staple with the Cal program has always been the consistently tough non-conference schedules before a grind it out grueling Pac-10 slate. The Bears this season face perennial-ranked powers such as Northwestern, Oklahoma, Ohio State, Hawaii, Mississippi State and Nebraska, before opening conference play at home versus Arizona State on March 28.

Cal finished the 2007 season with 34 wins and a 22nd consecutive berth in the NCAA postseason (the longest active postseason streak in the Pac-10 and second-longest in the nation). According to the National Fastpitch Coaches Association (NFCA), Cal boasted the fourth-hardest strength of schedule in the nation's No. 1-rated conference. With a squad that featured seven freshmen, the Bears posted eight wins against top 25 teams. The Bears also had five players make the all-conference team.

All eight Pac-10 teams were chosen to participate in the NCAA Tournament in 2007, with Arizona winning their second consecutive national title. Along with the Wildcats, Arizona State and Washington qualified for the Women's College World Series with the Huskies finishing tied for third place and the Sun Devils tied for seventh.

The Pac-10 will arguably be the country's top-rated conference again based on the talent that returns to the field. Arizona returns WCWS Most Outstanding Player Taryne Mowatt, while Arizona State returns Pac-10 Player of the Year Kaitlin Cochran as well as Pac-10 Pitcher of the Year Katie Burkhart.

The Bears open their 2008 season against UC Riverside and San Diego State at the Palm Springs Classic on Feb. 8.

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