PORTLAND, Ore. -- One year removed from winning the Pacific Coast Softball Conference Coastal Division title, the Saint Mary's softball team was picked to finish fourth in the PCSC Preseason Coaches Poll released on Monday.
The Gaels were the only team other than conference newcomer BYU to receive a first-place vote. The Cougars received 48 points to land the top spot coming into the season.
Loyola Marymount was picked second with 39, San Diego ranked third with 32 and the Gaels slotted fourth with 31. Utah Valley (18 points), Cal State Bakersfield (15) and Santa Clara (13) rounded out the conference.
Even with a young squad, head coach Jessica Hanaseth-Rodgers has several experienced faces returning for a team targeting a conference title.
PCSC Coastal Division Pitcher of the Year Jessica Lemmon returns, as does her battery-mate, catcher Megan Smith. All-PCSC first team outfielder Brittany Sabatini and All-PCSC honorable mention infielder Christine Torrise also return.
Saint Mary's begins the season with a trip to Hawaii to take part in the Oceanic Time Warner Cable Paradise Classic from Feb. 7-9. The Gaels face Washington on Feb. 7 at 1 p.m. (PST) in the season opener.
The home opener is set for Feb. 16, with Sacramento State visiting Cottrell Field for a doubleheader beginning at noon.