Six Pac-10 Softball Teams Ranked in National Preseason Polls
Jan. 26, 2010
WALNUT CREEK, Calif. - The USA Today/NFCA and ESPN.COM/USA Softball Division I preseason polls were released today with six Pac-10 teams ranked in the top 25 in both polls. Leading the way was NCAA defending national and Pac-10 champion WASHINGTON, who was ranked No. 1 in both polls.
In the NFCA poll, which is voted on by NCAA Division I head coaches, one representing each Conference, tabbed Washington as the unanimous No. 1. ARIZONA STATE came in at No. 5, ARIZONA at No. 6, UCLA at No. 8, and rounding out the top 10 was STANFORD at No. 10. The sixth Pac-10 squad is CALIFORNIA, which was picked at No. 12.
In the USA Softball Collegiate top 25 poll, Washington nabbed No. 1 with 17 first-place votes. Arizona was tabbed No. 4, UCLA No. 6, followed by Arizona State at No. 7. California came in at No. 11, followed by Bay Area-rival Stanford at No. 12. Also receiving votes in the poll was OREGON.
The Huskies, coming off their first-ever national championship in 2009, enter the 2010 campaign as the No. 1 preseason pick for the first time in school history. Washington returns 2009 USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year and Women’s College World Series Most Offensive Player Danielle Lawrie in 2010. Other key offensive players also returning to help the Huskies defend its national title, include All-American junior shortstop Jenn Salling, junior infielder Morgan Stuart, sophomore infielder Niki Williams and sophomore outfielder Kimi Pohlman. The Huskies begin defense of their title on February 11 against Auburn in Tempe, Ariz.
Arizona State is coming off its fourth-consecutive NCAA Women’s College World Series appearance IN 2009. The Sun Devils return a strong squad highlighted by sophomore pitcher Hillary Bach who tallied 31 wins in 2009, ranking third all-time in the ASU single-season records. The Sun Devils begin their season on February 11 with a doubleheader against Mississippi and San Jose State in Tempe, Ariz.
The Arizona Wildcats are coming off their 21st appearance in the Women’s College World Series in 22 years. They return a strong team in 2010, with junior outfielder Brittany Lastrapes leading the way. Lastrapes was Arizona’s only first team NFCA All-American in 2009, batting .481 with only 14 strikeouts. The Wildcats begin their 2010 campaign on February 12 with a doubleheader against Western Michigan and Purdue in Tempe, Ariz.
UCLA is coming off a 45-11 campaign in 2009 reaching the NCAA Super Regional title game. The squad is led by senior pitcher Megan Langenfeld who was 17-2 last season. UCLA begin its season on February 12 vs. Georgia in Clermont, Fla.
The Stanford Cardinal finished 2009 at 48-11 and advanced to its fourth NCAA Super Regional in five years. The squad returns 13 letterwinners, including All-American outfielder Alissa Haber and All-American infielder Ashley Hansen. The Cardinal begin its campaign on February 11th against Texas A&M Corpus Christi in Honolulu, Hawai’i.
California is coming off a 2009 season where it played in the postseason for the 24th consecutive year, advancing to the NCAA Super Regional for the fourth time in five years. Junior utility Valerie Arioto, a first-team All-Pac-10 selection in 2009 posted a .325 batting average and a .425 on-base percentage. Cal begins its season against Texas A&M in Tempe, Ariz. on February 12.
Oregon, under the lead of new head coach Mike White and behind sophomore pitcher Samantha Skillingstad, the Ducks look to get back to the postseason in 2010. Skillingstad finished with a record of 12-15 in 2009 and totaled 170 strikeouts, the fourth-highest single-season total in school history. The squad starts play on February 12 with a doubleheader against Notre Dame and Creighton in Tempe, Ariz.
The Oregon State Beavers return a strong squad in 2010, including freshman pitcher Paige Hall, who boasted a 14-12 record, a 3.26 ERA and garnered Pac-10 All-Freshmen team honorable mention accolades in 2009. Junior catcher Audrey Roderfield will lead the Beaver offense after hitting team-highs of 17 home runs and 37 RBI in 2009. The squad begins the 2010 campaign on February 12 in a doubleheader with Mississippi and Nevada in Tempe, Ariz.