The Longhorns are apparently the only ones optimistic over the team’s depth heading into the 2016 softball season.
The Big 12’s seven softball coaches picked Texas (38-17, 12-6 Big 12 in 2015) to finish third behind defending conference champion Oklahoma and Baylor in the preseason coaches’ poll.
The Sooners were selected the favorites in the Big 12 for the seventh time in the last eight seasons, getting five of the seven possible first-place votes and a total of 35 points. Baylor got the remaining two first place votes and 32 points. Texas was six points behind Baylor and nine behind Oklahoma in third. Kansas (20) and Oklahoma State (14) came in at fourth and fifth respectively. Texas Tech came in at sixth with 13 points and Iowa State rounded out the poll in seventh with seven points. Coaches were not allowed to give their own team first place votes.
This is the sixth-consecutive season the Longhorns have been picked to finish in the top three of the Big 12 Conference. The Longhorns last won a conference Championship in 2010.
Texas returns eight starters from last year’s team including 2015 NFCA All-Region selections, senior outfielder Lindsey Stephens, senior catcher Erin Shireman, junior outfielder Stephanie Wong, senior infielder Holly Kern and sophomore pitcher Erica Wright. Also returning are All-Big 12 selections junior shortstop Devon Tunning, sophomore catcher/infielder Randel Leahy, senior second baseman Stephanie Ceo, junior infielder Kelli Hanzel and junior pitcher Tiarra Davis.
Texas will open its 2016 campaign on Feb. 11 against Arkansas at the Texas Classic at McCombs Field.
News on Bevo Beat is free and unlimited. Access to the rest of Hookem.com is included with an Austin American-Statesman subscription in addition to Statesman.com and the ePaper edition. Subscribe today at statesman.com/subscribe.