Kansas Voted Sixth in Big 12 Softball Preseason Poll
Jan. 19, 2013
IRVING, TX - With a new look to this year's conference slate, the Kansas softball team was selected to finish sixth in the 2013 Big 12 Conference Preseason Coaches Poll.
For the fourth time in five years, Oklahoma was chosen by the league's head coaches as the frontrunner for the Big 12 softball title. The Sooners received all six first-place votes with coaches not allowed to vote for their own teams. With the departure of Texas A&M and Missouri and neither West Virginia nor TCU fielding softball teams, the Big 12 is now comprised of seven schools. Kansas was voted to finish ahead of Iowa State and behind Oklahoma State.
Coming off of their second-straight 30-win season, Kansas is led by head coach Megan Smith who starts her fourth season with the Jayhawks in 2013. KU finished 31-20 a year ago, including 6-17 in Big 12 play with wins over top-25 teams Texas Tech and Baylor.
The Jayhawks return seven of their starting position players from a year ago, including the regular-season Big 12 batting leader in senior Maggie Hull. Hull's .409 batting average also broke KU's single-season record, while she tied the Jayhawks' runs record with 46.
A Lawrence, Kan., native, Hull brings with her a full cast of characters that helped the team to a .288 batting average in 2012, which ranked fourth in the conference and was second-best in school history. In the circle, the Jayhawks will be led by sophomore right-hander Alicia Pille after she finished her rookie campaign with 171 strikeouts, good for fifth among all Big 12 pitchers.
Texas notched 29 points, coming in second behind the Sooners. Baylor was a close third, receiving 28 points, while Texas Tech landed in fourth with a total of 20. Oklahoma State (16) was picked fourth, while Iowa State (6) rounded out this year's preseason poll in seventh.
Oklahoma, the reigning Big 12 regular season champion, is coming off its seventh appearance in the Women's College World Series and returns the majority of the 2012 squad including USA Softball Player of the Year Keilani Ricketts and fellow All-Americans Lauren Chamberlain and Jessica Shults. The Sooners finished last season as the national runner-up with a 54-10 record.
The Big 12 softball season opens Thursday, Feb. 7, with two Big 12 squads beginning non-conference action. Kansas begins its season on Friday, Feb. 8, against North Carolina State.
2013 PRESEASON COACHES POLL
**Points are awarded six for first, five for second, etc. Coaches are not allowed to vote for their teams.