Tigers And 49ers Picked To Battle It Out For Softball Dominance
With the race for the 2012 Big West Softball title about to being, the conference's coaches could not pick a preseason favorite as Pacific and Long Beach State split the coaches vote at the top of the poll on Tuesday, January 31. The two teams each earned 59 points and four first place votes after a hard-fought 2011 title was decided by a single game. Both teams earned bids to the 2011 NCAA Tournament with the Tigers taking the automatic bid while the 49ers earned an at-large selection.
The reigning champion Tigers will look to repeat at the top of the standings in 2012 as they return nine of 10 starters from a season ago. Pacific returns six of seven First Team All-Big West Conference selections including the 2011 Big West Player of the Year, Nikki Armagost, and 2011 Freshman Player of the Year, Kelsey Rodriguez.
Nipping at the Tigers heels throughout 2011 and picked up battle it out with Pacific once again in 2012 was the 49ers who bring back the eight of 10 starters from last season. Headlining the Long Beach State roster once again is reigning Big West Pitcher of the Year, Erin Jones-Wesley, who dominated the circle for the 49ers as a freshman in 2011.
Behind the top two teams is Cal State Fullerton which took third place with 42 points to complete the top three for preseason predictions. Fullerton finished third last season in the conference standings going 12-9 in conference and 23-24 overall. The Titans will return eight starters including two pitchers, while losing three starters and welcoming seven newcomers to the field.
Pacific begins its quest for back-to-back championships on Friday, February 10, as the team travels to Los Angeles, Calif. to take on the No. 13 ranked Wildcats of Kentucky. The two teams will meet on a neutral field at UCLA as the 2012 season kicks off for the Tigers at 2:00 pm. The conference season for Pacific will begin on Saturday, March 31, when the Tigers host Cal State Northridge in a Big West doubleheader.
2012 Big West Preseason Coaches Poll
|T1.||Long Beach St. (4)||59|
|3.||Cal State Fullerton||42|
|4.||UC Santa Barbara||37|
|5.||Cal State Northridge||34|
|First-Place votes in parentheses|