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SACRAMENTO, Calif. – Sacramento State, which finished last season with a 27-19 overall record, was selected to finish second in the inaugural Big Sky Conference preseason coaches poll, it was announced today by the league.

Previously, five members of the Big Sky played softball, and with the addition of Southern Utah and North Dakota to the conference's lineup this year, the league will begin sponsoring softball this year. The Big Sky's code states that once six or more institutions field teams in a sport, the league will sponsor a championship. Softball is the first sport added to the Big Sky's lineup since the conference began sponsoring women's soccer in 1997.

The league consists of Sacramento State, Portland State, Northern Colorado, Idaho State, Weber State, North Dakota and Southern Utah. In addition, Montana plans to add softball in either 2014 or 2015. The winner of the Big Sky Championship (May 9-11) will receive an automatic berth into the NCAA Regionals. The three-day, double-elimination Big Sky Championship will be hosted by the conference's regular season champion. 

Sacramento State, which spent the previous 10 years in the Pacific Coast Softball Conference (PCSC), received 31 points and one first-place vote in the poll. The Hornets trailed Portland State (34 points, five first-place votes), and ranked ahead of Southern Utah (23 points, one first-place vote), Northern Colorado (20), Weber State (16), North Dakota (15) and Idaho State (8). 

Sacramento State, along with Portland State, Northern Colorado, Weber State and Idaho State were all in the PCSC last season, and are making the move to the Big Sky this year.  

The Hornets were selected to finish second despite losing seven positional starters from a season ago. Last year's squad went 27-19 overall and finished third in the PCSC's Coastal Division with a 10-9 record. Sacramento State returns 12 players from last year's roster, but will field new starters at catcher, first base, second base, shortstop, left field, right field and designated player in 2013.

Highlighting this year's roster are the two returning positional starters in senior third baseman Emily McCormick and senior center fielder Kelli Frye, as well as starting pitchers Taylor Stroud and Caitlin Brooks. McCormick was a first team all-Big Sky selection after batting .340 with five home runs and 31 RBIs while Frye was a second team all-league choice after hitting .348 with 26 runs and 10 stolen bases. Stroud, who will be a junior, was 14-9 with a 2.55 ERA, and Brooks made a team-high 17 starts last season despite being a freshman.

Sacramento State begins the season in two weeks at the three-day Fresno State Kickoff on Feb. 8-10. The Hornets open the tournament against UTEP on Feb. 8 at 11:30 a.m., and will also take on Southern Miss, UC Riverside, UC Davis and Fresno State during the three-day event. 


School - Points (First Place Votes)
1. Portland State - 34 (5)
2. Sacramento State - 31 (1)
3. Southern Utah - 23 (1)
4. Northern Colorado - 20
5. Weber State - 16
6. North Dakota - 15
7. Idaho State - 8

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