AUSTIN, Texas – The Texas softball program has been tabbed to finish third in the annual Big 12 Conference preseason coaches poll released on Thursday morning.
Two-time defending NCAA Champion Oklahoma earned the top spot for the ninth time in the last 10 seasons after receiving six of the seven possible first-place votes (coaches couldn’t vote for their own team) and 36 total points.
Baylor picked up the remaining first-place nod to rate second with 31 points, while the Longhorns garnered 24 total points to sit third. Oklahoma State (23 points), Kansas (12 points), Iowa State (11 points) and Texas Tech (10 points) rounded out positions four through seven in the preseason league standings.
UT has been picked to finish among the Big 12 Conference’s top three teams for eight consecutive seasons. Texas is a four-time regular-season league champion (2002, 2003, 2006 & 2010), which ranks second-most among the seven league schools. In each of the four years that the Horns secured the conference title, UT was not the coaches’ preseason favorite to win the crown. In 2002 the Longhorns were chosen third behind Nebraska and Oklahoma, while in 2003, UT was voted second behind the Cornhuskers. Texas trailed only Texas A&M in the 2006 preseason poll and was picked fifth before eventually winning the 2010 Big 12 Championship.
Texas is returning seven players that started at least 18 games (six started at least 26) and 12 letter winners for the upcoming 2018 campaign that combined to total 43% of the runs, hits and doubles, 54% of both the triples and HR’s and 52% of the RBIs as well as four pitchers that managed 76% of the pitching victories and 70% of both the innings pitched and strikeouts.
Included among the returnees are NFCA First-Team All-Central Region and first-team All-Big 12 sophomore catcher Taylor Ellsworth (.394 avg., 52 hits, six doubles, three HR’s, 24 RBIs, 11 base runners caught stealing in 2017), power-hitting junior outfielder Reagan Hathaway (.253 avg., 10 extra-base hits, 18 RBIs), redshirt junior pitcher Erica Wright (8-7 record, 1.63 ERA, seven complete games, 102 strikeouts, 116 innings pitched), senior catcher Randel Leahy (.281 avg., nine doubles, 24 RBIs), senior pitcher/designated player Paige von Sprecken (7-6 record, 2.19 ERA, 62 strikeouts, 76.2 innings pitched), 2017 Big 12 All-Freshman sophomore outfielder Kaitlyn Washington (.253 avg., 11 doubles, 16 RBIs), sophomore outfielder Tuesday DerMargosian (.301 avg., 12 runs scored, seven RBIs), junior designated player/outfielder Bekah Alcozer (.253 avg., team-high six HR’s, 24 RBIs) and junior pitcher Brooke Bolinger (7-2 record, 2.50 ERA, 34 strikeouts, 61.2 innings pitched).
The Longhorns are also adding a standout class of four freshmen and two transfers to the mix including: second-team 2017 NFCA High School All-South Central Region selection Ariana Adams (RHP/Magnolia, Texas/Magnolia West/Scrap Yard Dawgs), Janae Jefferson (OF/Humble, Texas/Nimitz Senior/Texas Aces Express Gold), Chloe Romero (RHP/Helendale, Calif./Academy of Careers & Exploration/California Cruisers), NFCA Second-Team High School All-American Mary Katherine (MK) Tedder (IF/Hoover, Ala./Spain Park/Birmingham Thunderbolts), junior transfer and 2017 NJCAA Division I All-American Ki’Audra (KayKay) Hayter (IF-OF/Nacogdoches, Texas/Garrison/Butler Community College) and junior infielder transfer Ciera Schick (IF/Rancho Cucamonga, Calif./Los Osos/Arizona State-2016).
For season ticket information, please call 512-471-3333 or order online at TexasSports.com for as little as $59. Single-game and mini-plan tickets are now also on sale for the entire 2018 home campaign.
2018 BIG 12 PRESEASON SOFTBALL POLL
Rank School Points
1 Oklahoma (6) 36
2 Baylor (1) 31
3 TEXAS 24
4 Oklahoma State 23
5 Kansas 12
6 Iowa State 11
7 Texas Tech 10
Source- Texas Athletics