POSTED: 10:45 a.m. HST, Jan 30, 2013
LAST UPDATED: 2:41 p.m. HST, Jan 30, 2013
The University of Hawaii softball team returns to the Big West Conference this season as the favorite to win the league title.
The Rainbow Wahine topped the Big West preseason coaches poll released today, followed closely by defending champion Long Beach State.
UH and LBSU both received four first-place votes in the poll of the Big West's nine coaches. The other first-place vote went to Pacific, which placed third in the poll.
UH is coming off a 44-9 campaign and enters the season ranked 23rd in the USA Today/NFCA poll and 25th in the ESPN.com/USA Softball Collegiate Top 25.
The Rainbow Wahine open the season next week by hosting the Oceanic Time Warner Cable Paradise Classic. UH plays Mississippi and UAB on Feb. 7 to open the schedule.
UH rejoins the Big West this season after 16 seasons in the Western Athletic Conference. Following UH, LBSU and Pacific in the Big West poll are UC Santa Barbara, UC Davis, Cal State Fullerton, Cal Poly, UC Riverside and Cal State Northridge.