ECU Softball Picked Second In Preseason Poll
Jan. 14, 2009
IRVING, Texas - Following one of the most successful softball seasons in East Carolina history, the 2009 squad has been tabbed for second-place in the Conference USA Preseason Coaches' Poll, according to a release by the league office Wednesday morning. It marks the second-straight year in which ECU was picked second behind Houston in the preseason rankings.
The 2008 season saw the Pirates qualify for the NCAA Championship for just the second time and record their first-ever NCAA Regional victory with a 4-2 triumph over Mississippi Valley State. East Carolina returns eight starters and 13 letterwinners from a squad that finished 37-30 a year ago and will play against 10 teams that made NCAA Regional appearances last season, including two that made it all the way to the 2008 Women's College World Series.
"Conference USA is full of parity in softball," head coach Tracey Kee said. "We know that each weekend will be a battle regardless of who we face. Our student-athletes understand the amount of hard work ahead of us. Though honored by this second-place preseason nod, we are more concerned about where we end up come May, because in our sport, like the others, it's how you finish."
Individually, redshirt sophomore pitcher Toni Paisley received recognition, as she was placed on the Preseason All-Conference Team. After missing the 2008 season due to injury, Paisley looks to return to the form that made her the 2007 C-USA Freshman-of-the-Year. After her initial campaign, Paisley was also named to the All-Conference USA squad (second team) and earned league all-freshman and all-tournament honors as she posted a 21-5 record and a 1.57 earned run average.
Defending C-USA Champion Houston was selected as the preseason favorite for the fourth-consecutive season and led all teams with five preseason All-Conference selections. Tulsa, the third-place squad from a year ago, was picked to finish in that same spot in 2009. Rounding out the top four of the poll was UCF, last season's Conference USA Tournament Champion.
Tulsa sophomore Jordan Kinard was tabbed as the C-USA Preseason Pitcher-of-the-Year, while 2007 C-USA Player-of-the-Year, and three-time All-Conference USA First-Team member, senior Jessica Valis of Houston was selected as the Preseason Player-of-the-Year for the second consecutive year.
After beginning practice earlier this week, the Pirates will start their 2009 campaign on Feb. 9 with the ECU Invitational, welcoming Virginia and Middle Tennessee to Greenville for the two-day event.
2009 Softball Preseason Coaches' Poll
Player of the Year
Pitcher of the Year