DePaul Selected As Softball Favorite In BIG EAST Conference Preseason Poll
PROVIDENCE, R.I. After winning the 2008 BIG EAST Conference Softball Championship and the 2007 regular season title, the 2009 edition of the DePaul softball team has been picked first in the Coaches’ Preseason Poll. Nine of the BIG EAST’s 13 head coaches gave the Blue Demons first-place votes while USF picked up the final four votes. The coaches were not permitted to vote for their own teams.
A constant in the polls, the Blue Demons finished last season ranked 22nd in the USA Today/NFCA and 21st in the ESPN.com/USA Softball final polls and returns their entire pitching staff, headlined by junior All-American pitcher Becca Heteniak and All-American third baseman Amber Patton. Heteniak, the reigning BIG EAST Pitcher of the Year struck out a school-record 315 batters and compiled a 33-8 record last season. Patton, who led the conference with .403 season average, returns for a senior year.
DePaul made its 13th trip to the NCAA Championship last season while the Blue Demons made the Women’s College World Series in 2007.
USF takes the second spot in the preseason poll and picked up four first-place votes. The Bulls wrapped up their first BIG EAST regular-season championship in 2008 and made their ninth appearance in the NCAA Championship. Sophomore pitcher Capri Catalano, the 2008 BIG EAST Freshman of the Year, returns to lead the Bulls from the circle. Catalano threw 129 innings as a rookie, amassing a 17-1 record.
With the Blue Demons and Bulls collecting all available first-place votes, the next two squads in line, Louisville and Notre Dame, share the poll’s third slot. The Cardinals finished fifth in last seasons final standings, while the Fighting Irish finished fourth. Both teams, however, joined DePaul and USF in the NCAA Championship.
Connecticut took the fifth slot, two positions below their third place finish in 2008. The two-time reigning BIG EAST Player of the Year in senior outfielder Micah Truax returns to the Huskies’ for her senior season.
Syracuse was picked to finish sixth while Pittsburgh, Providence, Villanova and St. John’s round out the top 10. Rutgers, Seton Hall and new to softball Georgetown took the final three spots in the poll.
This year’s BIG EAST Championship returns to Louisville’s Ulmer Stadium May 7-9. While the Blue Demons begin league play with St. John’s on Saturday, March 5 at Cacciatore Stadium.
The Blue Demons throw the first pitch of the 2009 season at the Louisville Slugger Tournament, hosted by UNLV Feb. 13-15. DePaul faces, Oregon State, Southern Mississippi, Michigan, Kentucky and Portland during the three-day tournament.
* Joined the BIG EAST Conference in softball in 2009