LA JOLLA, Calif. - The UC San Diego softball will begin the 2013 season as the No. 2 team in the nation, as announced by the National Fastpitch Coaches Association (NFCA) on Wednesday. The Tritons will pick up where they left off in 2012, coming in just behind top ranked Valdosta State in the annual preseason poll.
In 2012, the Tritons won 45 games for the second year in a row, matching the school record set in 2011. UCSD went 10-4 in the NCAA Tournament and won the California Collegiate Athletic Association (CCAA) Tournament title for the first time in program history. Head Coach Patti Gerckens' squad survived nine consecutive elimination games during the tournament run prior to the national championship game, where they met up with Valdosta State, dropping a heartbreaking 4-1 decision to the Blazers for the national title.
This season, the offensive attach will be lead by junior shortstop Mya Romero, and Caitlin Brown, NCAA DII West Region first team selection, will return as steady power behind the plate after batting .335 with 10 home runs. The circle will feature a variety of pitchers, all different in everything they do with senior leadership coming from Michelle Escamilla. The Tritons will feature a speedy outfield highlighted by Taylor Sepulveda in the center. True-freshman Callie Grant is likely to make an impact early on.
Valdosta State will christen defense of its 2012 national championship as the unanimous pick at No. 1 in the 2013 NFCA Division II Preseason Poll that was released by the Association on Wednesday.
The Blazers received all 16 possible first-place votes to hold down the top position while last season's national runner-up UC San Diego (45-23) followed closely behind in second.
Kutztown (52-7), Angelo State (48-11) and Southern Connecticut State (43-13) rounded out the national top five, respectively.
Columbus State (40-20) jumped all the way from the "receiving votes" category in last year's final listing to No. 10 in the 2013 preseason ranking, while Minnesota State Mankato (49-10) enjoyed a seven-position improvement from No. 13 up to sixth.
Joining the Lady Cougars as new additions to this year's rating was Abilene Christian (30-18) at No. 22 and Dixie State (38-13) in a tie for No. 24.
Three squads departed from last year's final poll as Florida Southern (No. 18), Winona State (No. 19) and Lenoir-Rhyne (No. 20) dropped into the "receiving votes" category.
The NFCA Division II Top 25 Poll is voted on by 16 NCAA Division II head coaches, two representing each of the eight NCAA regions. Final 2012 records are shown, first-place votes are in parentheses.
||Valdosta State (16)
||UC San Diego
||Minn. St. Mankato
||St. Joseph's (Ind.)
||Cal St. Dominguez Hills
||Cal St. Monterey Bay
||West Va. Weslevan
||Grand Valley State
Dropped Out of Final 2012 Poll: No. 18 Florida Southern, No. 19 Winona State, No. 20 Lenoir-Rhyne
Others Receiving Votes: Florida Southern (37), St. Edwards (23), Lenoir-Rhyne (20), Bloomsburg (14), Winona State (14), Missouri Western State (11), Montana State Billings (10), Caldwell (7), Texas Woman's Univ. (3), Ashland (3), Grand Canyon (2), West Texas A&M (2), Alabama-Huntsville (1).
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