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UVU softball: Wolverines picked third in WAC preseason poll

By Kellen Hiser

For the Deseret News

Published: Tuesday, Jan. 28 2014 3:50 p.m. MST

Announced Tuesday by the league offices, Utah Valley University was picked to finish third in the 2014 Western Athletic Conference softball standings in a vote of the conference's six head coaches. The coaches, who could not vote for their own team, voted New Mexico State as the WAC favorite to take home the softball title.

The Aggies took the top spot with 25 points and five first-place votes. Coming in second with 19 points — five more than UVU's 14 — was Seattle U, which also garnered a first-place nod. Rounding out the projections were Bakersfield in fourth with 13 points, Kansas City with 10 and Grand Canyon at nine.

"Being ranked third obviously has no bearing on how our team will perform in the WAC," first-year Wolverine head coach Nikki Palmer said. "We have set our goals high and we plan to achieve them all. With the dedication and hard work this team has shown thus far, there should be no reason they cannot achieve what they have set out to complete."

The Preseason All-WAC team, also selected by the coaches, was also announced Tuesday. The list features two Wolverines, senior first baseman Amanda Robinson and junior pitcher Josi Summers.

Robinson was a unanimous first team All-PCSC selection last season after batting .351 with 31 RBIs and a team-leading seven home runs. She enters the season just three homers shy of becoming UVU's all-time leader and can eclipse the program mark for hits in a career with 40 this year.

Meanwhile, Summers earns the All-WAC nod after going 13-7 during her sophomore campaign in Orem and earning All-PCSC honorable mention accolades. The Wolverines' top returning pitcher posted a 2.28 ERA with 130 strikeouts last season and set a single-game UVU record for strikeouts in a game with 13 against Weber State.

"The pre-season picks of Amanda and Josi are spot on," Palmer said. "These two will be among the many elite athletes on our team this year to pose a defensive threat and certainly on Amanda's side an offensive prowess as well. "

The 2014 season gets underway for Utah Valley on Feb. 7, at the Red Desert Classic in St. George, Utah. The Wolverines will play five games at the Classic, beginning with a showdown against Idaho State. All roads lead to the 2014 WAC Softball Tournament, hosted by Seattle U and held May 8-10. All five eligible teams will compete with the winner advancing to the NCAA Regionals.

2014 WAC Preseason Softball Coaches Poll

Rank. Teams (First-place votes). Points

1 — New Mexico State (5) 25

2 — Seattle U (1) 19

3 — Utah Valley 14

4 — Bakersfield 13

5 — Kansas City 10

6 — Grand Canyon 9

2014 Preseason Softball All-WAC Team

Player, School, Year, Pos.

Emma Adams, New Mexico State, So., 3B

Kelsey Barak, Grand Canyon, Jr., SS

Caitlin Christopher, Kansas City, Jr., C

Shay Fryer, Bakersfield, Sr., SS

Izzy Geronimo, Seattle U, So., OF

Katie Kelley, Kansas City, So., 1B/RHP

Bubba Morrow, Seattle U, Jr., C

Amanda Robinson, Utah Valley, Sr., 1B

Staci Rodriguez, New Mexico State, Jr., OF

Josi Summers, Utah Valley, Jr., RHP

Karissa Veiga, Bakersfield, Sr., OF

Claire Zampini, Grand Canyon, Sr., OF

Kellen Hiser is an assistant sports information director at Utah Valley University. For more information on Wolverine athletics, visit WolverineGreen.com.

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