Softball Picked to Finish First in the BIG EAST Conference
PROVIDENCE, R.I. Following DePaul's fourth trip to the Women’s College World Series, the Blue Demons were picked to finish first in the 2008 BIG EAST Conference Softball Preseason poll as voted on by the league’s 12 coaches, who were not permitted to select their own squad. DePaul received nine first-place votes and 116 points. USF followed in second with three first-place votes and 110 points, while defending BIG EAST Tournament Champion Louisville followed in third with 100 points.
DePaul, the 2007 BIG EAST regular season champion and just the second program to represent the BIG EAST at the WCWS, finished the NCAA Championship with a 6-2 record. After going through the Regionals and Super Regionals untouched the Blue Demons were ultimately eliminated from the WCWS by eventual National Champion Arizona.
The Blue Demons received the 14th-seed overall and reached the WCWS by defeating Mississippi Valley and sweeping Missouri at the NCAA Carbondale Regional. Six days later, the Blue Demons went into Norman, Oklahoma and silenced a sold out Sooner crowd as they defeated third-seeded Oklahoma 3-0 and 7-2.
DePaul finished the 2007 season with a remarkable 47-13 record and went 20-0 in conference play. The squad returns 10 players, including sophomore All-American pitcher Becca Heteniak and seniors Sandy Vojik, Marcy Wilus and Katie Hanson. The 2008 team has nine new faces including transfer Cal pitcher Lauren Frankiewicz, and freshman Tara Voss, Brittney Yniguez, Simone Ashkar, Sam Morgan, Lindsey Dean, Alex Morocco, Sean Plese and Sarah Shizas.
USF was picked to finish second for the second consecutive year. The Bulls ended the 2007 season with a 44-22 overall record went 15-5 against league opponents. The Bulls earned the No. 2 seed in the conference championship and lost 5-1 to eventual-winner Louisville in the quarterfinals. The squad returns several starters, including its entire pitching staff.
Louisville, the league’s 2007 preseason favorite, made its fourth-straight NCAA appearance in 2007. The 2008 season sees UofL returns 12 letterwinners and six starters.
Notre Dame was selected fourth in the preseason poll. The Irish reached the NCAA Championship and finished the 2007 season 32-24 overall, 13-7 BIG EAST.
Connecticut was chosen to finish fifth and ended the 2007 season in the same spot. St. John’s finished sixth in the poll after failing to make the 2007 BIG EAST Championship. The Redstorm finished 10th in the league in 2007 with an 18-36 overall record, 7-15 BIG EAST.
Rutgers is slotted in the seventh spot, while Syracuse is projected to end the season at eighth place. Pittsburgh and Seton round out the top-10 in ninth and 10th place, respectively. Villanova and Providence fell into the 11th and 12th place slots.
BIG EAST play is set to begin on March 22, when Seton Hall travels to Queens, N.Y., for a noon doubleheader with St. John’s. Louisville will host the 2008 BIG EAST Softball Championship on May 8-10 at Ulmer Stadium. The league’s top-eight squads will play for the conference crown. The 2008 Women’s College World Series is scheduled for May 29-June 4 at the ASA Hall of Fame Stadium in Oklahoma City, Okla.