(Editor's note: University of Montana media release)
FARMINGTON, Utah -- The Montana softball team was picked in a tie for third in the Big Sky Conference preseason coaches’ poll that was released Monday morning.
Weber State, which collected five of seven first-place votes, was picked first, with Sacramento State coming in second. Portland State, with one first-place vote, tied for third with the Grizzlies.
Idaho State, Northern Colorado and Southern Utah filled out the bottom part of the poll. The Bengals and Thunderbirds both will be playing for new coaches this season.
Weber State went 14-2 in league last season and has either won or shared the regular-season title each of the last four seasons.
The Wildcats went 3-0 at the Big Sky tournament in Sacramento in May, winning their games by a combined score of 21-6. Weber State has advanced to the NCAA tournament three of the last five years.
Weber State returns four of its five first- and second-team All-Big Sky selections from last year, including the MVP, senior outfielder Takesha Saltern
The Hornets, who finished fourth last season, were picked second despite losing all three of their first- and second-team All-Big Sky selections, including Pitcher of the Year Savanna Corr.
Portland State and Montana both bring back eight starters.
The Vikings return senior shortstop Darian Lindsey, who led the league in hitting (.404), the Grizzlies junior first baseman Cami Sellers, who batted .484 in league and led the Big Sky with 31 extra-base hits.
Montana opens its season on Friday, Feb. 7, at the Big Easy Classic in Metairie, La., with games against Central Arkansas and Louisiana Tech.
The Grizzlies don’t play their first home games until hosting Providence (MT) in a doubleheader on Wednesday, April 1.
Montana has Big Sky home series against Southern Utah, Sacramento State and Weber State, with the three-game set against the Wildcats wrapping up the regular season on May 1-2.
Weber State will host the Big Sky tournament, beginning on Wednesday, May 6.
2020 Big Sky Conference preseason poll
1. Weber State (5) ... 35
2. Sacramento State (1) ... 28
T3. Portland State (1) ... 25
T3. Montana ... 25
5. Idaho State ... 14
6. Northern Colorado ... 13
7. Southern Utah ... 7