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TU Softball Tabbed AAC Preseason Favorite

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TULSA, Oklahoma -

The University of Tulsa softball team was picked first in the American Athletic Conference Preseason Coaches Poll as announced by the conference on Wednesday afternoon. The Hurricane received four of seven first-place votes and a total of 34 points, ahead of USF in second with 32 points and UCF in third with 26.

 "My first thought was that it puts the target on our back for the rest of the conference teams," said Tulsa Head Coach John Bargfeldt. "One of the reasons I feel that was is because there's not a very large margin of difference between the talent of teams in the conference that could have been voted in as the preseason favorite. But that's something we embrace and shoot for every year. We'll embrace it and we'll go after it just like we would in every other year."

 Tulsa returns 12 players from last season's American Athletic Conference Tournament Championship and NCAA Tournament team, including all-conference honorees Shelby Estocado, Julia Hollingsworth, Maddie Withee and Maggie Withee.

 "Anytime that you have experience coming back that helps out," said Bargfeldt. "In our experience, we feel like players improve every year. They've kind of been through it and kind of get used to what travel is like, three game series, and how important the season is and that when you get to tournament time it starts all over again. When you have players that have been through that and have had success it helps them go into the season with some confidence because they've been there and they've done that before."

 The 2016 squad posted a 35-21 overall record with a 15-6 mark in conference play, finishing third in the conference before shutting out their opponents in three games at the conference tournament that saw no opposing runner advance past second base.

 The Hurricane will begin the season on the road in Tucson, Ariz. At the Hillenbrand Tournament on Feb. 10 through Feb. 12. Tulsa first home appearance at the Collins Family Softball Complex is slated for March 10 against California as they play host of the Tulsa Invitational.  

School (1st Place Votes)   

Points

1. Tulsa (4)

34

2. USF (3)

32

3. UCF

26

4. Houston

22

5. Memphis

14

6. UConn

11

7. East Carolina

8

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