Tuesday, February 9, 2016

MW coaches pick Fresno State to win 2016 crown

The Mountain West softball coaches have spoken.

And they're in agreement with our predictions last month on who should win the 2016 conference title.  Defending MW champion Fresno State picked up all eight possible votes in balloting released by the conference office today.

The Bulldogs earned a perfect total of 64 points and were picked to win the title for a second straight season after going 20-4 a year ago.  With coaches unable to vote for their own teams, San Diego State received the other first-place vote and finished with 57 points to rank second.

Those vote totals mean Fresno State ranked No. 1 and San Diego State No. 2 on every coach's ballot except for Trisha Ford and Kathy Van Wyk, who could not vote for their own teams.

San Jose State and New Mexico were selected to finish exactly where they did a year ago, in third and fourth place,  respectively.  In fact, all nine teams were picked in the same spots they occupied in the final standings in 2015.  Rounding out the picks:  UNLV in fifth, Utah State sixth, Colorado State seventh, Nevada eighth, and Utah State ninth.

Slots four thru seven in the poll were separated by just seven points, and only one point separated three teams -- Utah State, Colorado State and Nevada.  Boise State was picked last on each coach's ballot, except for Broncos head coach Cindy Ball, who could not vote for her own team by rule.

This marks the second consecutive season Fresno State was picked to win the crown.  The Bulldogs are in search of their 22nd conference championship all-time, and nation-leading 32nd NCAA Tournament appearance in the last 35 years.  San Diego State is in search of a ninth consecutive NCAA Tournament bid and its 12th overall.

In preseason national polls, Fresno State is ranked 31st in the ESPN/USA Softball preseason rankings with 8 votes, while San Diego State is 36th with 4 votes.  In the USA Today/NFCA coaches preseason Top 25, the Bulldogs find themselves 40th, with three votes.  Fresno State, the lone MW team to receive votes in the coaches poll, enters the season receiving votes in both polls for the first time since 2012.

Mountain West coaches preseason poll

1. Fresno State (8 first-place votes), 64 points
2. San Diego St. (1 first-place vote), 57 points
3. San Jose St., 49 points
4. New Mexico, 34 points
5. UNLV, 31 points
6. Utah State, 28 points
7. Colorado State, 27 points
8. Nevada, 26 points
9. Boise State, 8 points