Jan. 28, 2009
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. --- The New Mexico softball team was picked sixth in the Mountain West Conference preseason poll released today by the league office. The Lobos, who are in the third rebuilding year under Ty Singleton, return five starters and have nine newcomers. BYU and San Diego State were picked to win the conference according to the league coaches.
BYU and San Diego State received 23 points apiece to share the top spot in the poll. UNLV tallied 15 points to place third, followed by Utah (14 points), Colorado State (10) and New Mexico (5).
In 2008, San Diego State (44-17 overall, 15-5 MWC), set program records in 2008 for wins in a season and win percentage (.721) on its way to a fourth MWC regular-season title. The Aztecs return 12 letterwinners from that squad, including senior All-American catcher/infielder Erin Floros and 2007 all-MWC selections Brittany Knudsen (Jr., OF) and Lindsey Marquez (Jr., 2B).
BYU recorded its fourth 40-win season in 2008 (44-20 overall, 14-6 MWC) en route to a fourth-consecutive NCAA berth. The Cougars will be led by three returning 2008 all-conference performers, including MWC Freshman of the Year Kristin Delahoussaye (So., 2B), Angeline Quiocho (Jr., 3B) and Amanda Vance (Jr., UTL).
UNLV, under the helm of new head coach Pete Manarino, placed third in this season's poll after posting a 25-40-1 record last season (5-15 MWC). The Rebels return six starters this year, including Brittany Bolinger (Sr., OF) and Ashli Holland (So., 2B/SS), who each started all 66 games for the 2008 team. Bolinger and Holland will be joined by fellow all-conference performer Jaci Hull (Jr., SS/2B). Utah (28-26 overall, 10-10 MWC) enters the 2009 season with juniors Kara Foster (OF) and Ashley Smuda (RHP). Foster finished the 2008 campaign ranked eighth in the country in home runs per game (0.33), while Smuda ended her sophomore season with a conference-high 69 strikeouts.
Colorado State (29-22 overall, 9-11 MWC) returns seven starters from the 2008 roster, while New Mexico (25-26 overall, 7-13 MWC) returns five. The Rams welcome back three 2008 all-conference selections, including two-time honoree Ashley Munoz (Jr., C). The Lobos will be led by all-conference standout Katie Gilmore (Jr., IF).
The 2009 MWC softball season will kick off on Thur., Feb. 5, as Colorado State travels to New Mexico State, and BYU heads to St. George, Utah, for the BYU/UVSC Red Desert Classic. Conference play opens Thur., April 2.
2009 MWC Preseason Softball Coaches Poll
Pl. Team (1st place votes / Points)
T1. BYU (3 / 23)
T1. San Diego State (3 / 23)
3. UNLV (15)
4. Utah (14)
5. Colorado State (10)
6. New Mexico (5)