Jan. 23, 2013
IRVING, Texas - Tulsa, the defending Conference USA softball regular season and tournament champion, has been tabbed to repeat by a vote of the league's nine head coaches. Tulsa senior Lacey Middlebrooks was selected C-USA Preseason Pitcher of the Year, while Houston junior All-American Haley Outon was named C-USA Preseason Player of the Year.
Last season, C-USA placed four teams in the NCAA tournament. It was the third consecutive season that the league placed multiple teams in the field and the fourth time in conference history that at least four teams earned NCAA bids. C-USA has averaged nearly three bids per season since it began sponsoring softball in 2000 and has had nine multiple-bid seasons.
The Golden Hurricane received six-of-nine first-place votes as the preseason favorite, while Houston was tabbed second and received one first-place vote and UCF was slotted third in the poll, ahead of fourth-place pick UAB and fifth-place Marshall. East Carolina and Memphis both received a first-place vote and checked in at Nos. 6 and 7, respectively. Southern Miss and UTEP rounded out the preseason poll.
Middlebrooks shared the 2012 C-USA Pitcher of the Year honor after posting 12-2 during conference play, tying for the lead in wins during league games and held opponents to a .187 average against. She posted a 1.40 ERA during C-USA games and posted an 20-6 overall record.
Outon, a first-team all-conference selection in 2012, ranked No. 6 in the nation in home runs and tied an NCAA record with a home run in six consecutive games. The Pflugerville, Texas, native belted a program-record 22 home runs a year ago. The catcher set a school record for RBIs in a single season with 63. She also led the team in batting average (.370), slugging (.809) and runs (49) and was named an NFCA All-Region Selection.
Tulsa placed four players on the preseason all-conference team, while Houston and UCF both had three players selected. Two UAB players were voted to the squad, while Memphis, Marshall and East Carolina were each represented by one player.
The first pitch of the 2013 C-USA softball season is scheduled for Thursday, Feb. 7. The Conference USA Championship will take place May 9-11 at the Collins Family Softball Complex in Tulsa, Okla.
2013 C-USA Preseason Poll (1st place votes)
- Tulsa (6)
- Houston (1)
- East Carolina (1)
- Memphis (1)
- Southern Miss
2013 All-Conference USA Preseason Softball Team
- P Lacey Middlebrooks, Tulsa, Sr., Wake Village, Texas
- P Mackenzie Audas, UCF, So., Plant City, Fla.
- C Haley Outon, Houston, Jr., Pflugerville, Texas
- IF Samantha Cobb, Tulsa, Sr., Garland, Texas
- IF Jill Barrett, Tulsa, Jr., Greenwood, Ark.
- IF Holly Anderson, Houston, Sr., Dickinson, Texas
- IF Laura Curtis, Memphis, Sr., Chattanooga, Tenn.
- IF Farrah Sullivan, UCF, So., Waynesboro, Miss.
- IF Jazmine Valle, Marshall, Sr., Lake Elsinore, Calif.
- OF Caitlin Everett, Tulsa, Sr., Forney, Texas
- OF Whitney Fletcher, UAB, Sr., Decatur, Ala.
- OF Jill Jelnick, East Carolina, Jr., Aliso Viejo, Calif.
- OF Kahley Novak, UCF, So., Clermont, Fla.
- UT Kristen McGrath, UAB, Jr., Tampa, Fla.
- DP Reina Gaber, Houston, Sr., Whittier, Calif.
Preseason Player of the Year: Haley Outon, Houston, Jr., Pflugerville, Texas
Preseason Pitcher of the Year: Lacey Middlebrooks, Tulsa, Sr., Wake Village, Texas