UH softball team picked to win WAC
After coming within one win of a College World Series berth last year, the Hawaii softball team enters the new season as the favorite to win the Western Athletic Conference title.
The Rainbow Wahine topped the WAC preseason poll voted upon by the league's coaches with senior Kate Robinson selected Preseason Player of the Year.
Hawaii, which received six of seven first-place votes, won the WAC regular-season title last spring and advanced to the NCAA Super Regionals before eventually falling to CWS runner-up Tennessee.
The Wahine lost two seniors off last year's 50-13 squad and placed six players on the preseason All-WAC team -- Robinson at first base, catcher Katie Grimes, third baseman Clare Warwick, shortstop Valana Manuma, outfielder Kaulana Gould and utility player Audrey Andrade.
UH was followed in the coaches poll by Fresno State, which received the other first-place vote, Nevada, New Mexico State, San Jose State, Utah State and Louisiana Tech.
Nevada's Jordan McPherson was named preseason Pitcher of the Year.
Two players who would have been candidates for pitcher of the year will sit out this season. Hawaii's Justine Smethurst is trying out for the Australian National Team and Fresno State's Robin Mackin is playing for Canada's Olympic team.
The Rainbow Wahine open the season Feb. 14 against Kentucky in the Oceanic Time Warner Cable Paradise Classic at Rainbow Wahine Softball Stadium. They will also host the WAC tournament in May.