Cal State Fullerton Picked For 2018 Softball Crown
Big West Softball 2018 Preseason Coaches Poll
Cal State Fullerton earned the nod of 2018 softball favorite among the league’s coaches for this year's Big West title.
The Titans claimed four first place votes for 57 points as it earned the top spot in the preseason poll. The defending Big West champion returns 17 while adding nine newcomers after a stellar 35-23 campaign with a 16-5 mark in league. Offensively, the squad returns two players who received Big West Honorable Mention recognition last season in sophomore Zoe Richard at first base (.280 BA, HR, 22 RBI) and senior shortstop Shianne Brannan (.283 BA, 5 HR, 23 RBI). Contributing to Fullerton’s league-best .973 fielding percentage in conference, Brannan recorded a .952 fielding percentage for 84 putouts and 95 assists. Richard was flawless defensively as she posted a 1.000 fielding percentage at first, recording 175 putouts. Fullerton also welcomes National Gatorade Player of the Year in freshman RHP Taylor Dockins. As back-to-back champs for the first time in over a decade, reigning Coach of the Year Kelly Ford and the Titans look to three-peat in 2018.
Long Beach State garnered three first-place votes with 53 points after finishing in a three-way tie for second place last year with an 11-10 mark in Big West play. The Beach returns Big West Freshman Pitcher of the Year and All-Big West First Team honoree, Cielo Meza, in the circle after a standout 2017 campaign. As the only freshman to receive First Team accolades in 2017, Meza recorded a 1.26 ERA in 66.2 innings of work after missing nearly all of the non-conference portion of the season. Meza led the Big West in opposing batting average, holding league foes to .172 on the year. The first year finished with six wins and 54 strikeouts and added a no-hitter to her collegiate resume against UC Riverside. All-Big West Second Team honoree in senior utility Jessica Flores, returns for the Beach after throwing 22.2 innings in relief for a 1.24 ERA with 14 strikeouts. The two-way player also hit for a .349 batting average with three round-trippers in league play. In all, LBSU returns 10 key players and welcomes 10 as it looks for its first Big West title since 2014.
CSUN wrapped up the top three with 43 points. The Matadors return three starters and seven letterwinners including three-time All-Big West First Team honoree, Savannah Horvath. Starting all 53 games at shortstop for the Matadors, Horvath led the conference with 13 home runs and 41 RBI as she batted for a .338 average overall. In conference play, the infielder led the league in almost every offensive category: batting average (.407), on-base percentage (.507), slugging percentage (.915), home runs (7), doubles (7), RBI (19), total bases (54) and extra base hits (15). At 32-22, CSUN posted its fourth-straight 30-win season for the first time since 1996-99. The Matadors look for their fourth Big West title this season.
Fourth place belonged to Hawai‘i with 32 votes. Fifth place was shared between Cal Poly and UC Riverside with 32 points, with the Highlanders claiming the final first place vote. UC Santa Barbara (29 points) and UC Davis (12 points) wrapped up the 2018 edition of the preseason coaches poll.
Big West Coaches Poll Results
1. Cal State Fullerton (4) 57
2. Long Beach State (3) 53
3. CSUN 43
4. Hawai'i 32
5. UC Riverside (1) 31
Cal Poly 31
7. UC Santa Barbara 29
8. UC Davis 12
( ) First-place votes