Kansas University's softball team was picked to finish seventh in the Big 12 Conference this season, the league office announced Thursday. Texas A&M; is the Big 12 softball coaches' preseason favorite to win the league title in 2006, while Texas trailed by just one point in the annual poll.
Baylor (61 points) ranked third followed by Oklahoma (fourth - 55 points), Nebraska (fifth - 49 points), Missouri (sixth - 43 points), Kansas (seventh - 32 points), Texas Tech (eighth - 28 points), Oklahoma State (ninth - 22 points) and Iowa State (10th - nine points).
A&M; returns sophomore pitcher Amanda Scarborough, the 2005 Big 12 Player and Freshman of the Year. Scarborough is one of four All-Big 12 First Team honorees on the '06 Aggie roster. The Longhorns welcome back three-time Big 12 Pitcher of the Year Cat Osterman for her final season. She led UT to its fourth postseason Big 12 title and to a third-place finish at the Women's College World Series.
Kansas returns eight letterwinners to its 2006 roster, including right-handed pitchers Serena Settlemier and Kassie Humphreys, and welcomes five freshman and two transfers to the squad. Jayhawk returning starters also include 2005 All-Big 12 selections Heather Stanley (OF), Jessica Moppin (2B) and Destiny Frankenstein (SS).
The Jayhawks, who went 9-8 in Big 12 play last year (sixth place), finished 31-24 overall last season and made an appearance in the NCAA Regional in Athens, Ga.
The Big 12 softball season gets underway Thursday, Feb. 9 with a Texas Tech doubleheader at Jacksonville starting at 2 p.m. KU opens its slate Feb. 10 against Florida at the Wilson/DiMarini Tournament in Houston, Texas.
2006 Big 12 Conference Softball Preseason Coaches Poll
Team (first-place votes) Points
1. Texas A&M; (4) 76
2. Texas (6) 75
3. Baylor 61
4. Oklahoma 55
5. Nebraska 49
6. Missouri 43
7. KANSAS 32
8. Texas Tech 28
9. Oklahoma State 22
10. Iowa State 9