After finishing the 2012 season with three teams ranked in the Top 25, the Big East is looking forward to another great softball season in 2013. Last year’s most successful Big East team is starting off 2013 with the momentum it had gained toward the end of last season.
The University of South Florida hopes to make success a habit after making it to the Women’s College World Series in 2012. If they perform like their conference expects, we will see the Bulls right back where they were, looking to bring home a national title.
With seven first-place votes and 134 points in Tuesday’s Big East Softball preseason coaches’ poll, USF will begin the season at the top of the conference standings. The Bulls completed the 2012 season with a 50-12 overall record and a 17-5 conference record. USF returns three All-Big East selections from last year’s squad.
The University of Notre Dame placed second in the preseason poll. The Fighting Irish received 129 points, including one first-place vote. ND starts where they left off after finishing second in the Big East last season.
After compiling a 40-16 overall record and a 16-3 conference record in 2012, the Irish return four All-Big East players, including junior sensation Laura Winter, the 2012 Pitcher of the Year. Seeking to continue the trend over the past four seasons, ND will look to finish in the top two spots in conference play again in 2013.
The University of Louisville softball team finds itself third in the preseason poll with 128 points and four first-place votes. After earning the conference regular season and championship titles in 2012, the Cardinals finished the season with a 55-5 overall record and won 20 conference games. Louisville returns seven all-conference selections, including catcher Taner Fowler, first baseman Alicja Wolny and last year’s conference championship Most Outstanding Player, outfielder Jordan Trimble.
DePaul University fills out the Top 5 on the list. Recording 117 points and one first-place vote, the Blue Demons will look to have a better year this season and get back to form when they first entered the conference. DePaul has won three regular season titles since joining the Big East in 2006. Although they finished fifth in the conference last year, the Blue Demons will count on returners Kirsten Verdun, pitcher/first baseman and first baseman Mary Connolly in their quest to return to the top.
Syracuse, Rutgers, Pittsburgh, St. Johns, Connecticut, Providence, Villanova, Seton Hall and Georgetown round out the rest of the conference poll.
The University of South Florida will host the 2013 Big East Championship in Tampa. Per conference guidelines, the top eight teams will make the trek to vie for the title. The championship will air live on ESPN2 beginning on May 9. The title game is scheduled to be played on May 11.