OXFORD, Ohio - The Mid-American Conference announced the results of its preseason softball coaches' poll Thursday afternoon. The defending MAC East Division and Tournament Champion Miami RedHawks were picked to finish fourth in the East Division this season. Bowling Green was picked to win the East, while Ball State was picked to win the West and the MAC Tournament.
The Falcons received seven first-place votes to top the East Division poll. Ohio was picked second and received three first-place votes. Kent State and Miami followed each receiving one first-place vote. Akron and Buffalo rounded out the poll.
In the West Division, the defending regular-season champion Cardinals were picked by nine coaches to win. Central Michigan finished second and received two first-place votes. Western Michigan was picked third and received the final first-place vote. Eastern Michigan, Northern Illinois and Toledo rounded out the poll.
The RedHawks return 12 letterwinners from last year's NCAA Tournament team. That includes two All-MAC performers in sophomore infielder Shanyn McIntyre and junior catcher Kayla Ledbetter. Miami is under the direction of a new staff this season, as Clarisa Crowell has taken the helm. She comes to the Red and White after spending the past six seasons as an assistant at Oklahoma State.
Miami begins the 2013 season when it travels to Atlanta for the Georgia Tech Classic, Feb. 15-17. On Friday, Feb. 15, the 'Hawks will open against Indiana at 11 a.m., before taking on the host Yellow Jackets at 5 p.m. On Saturday, Feb. 16, there will be a rematch against Georgia Tech at 3 p.m., followed by a game against Marshall at 5 p.m. Miami will then finish the tournament on Sunday, Feb. 17 at 11 a.m. with another game against Marshall.
MAC East (First Place Votes)
1. Bowling Green (7)
2. Ohio (3)
3. Kent State (1)
4. Miami (1)
1. Ball State (9)
2. Central Michigan (2)
3. Western Michigan (1)
4. Eastern Michigan
5. Northern Illinois
Predicted MAC Tournament Champion: Ball State (6)
(Also receiving votes: Bowling Green, Central Michigan and Ohio)