Defending Mountain West Conference champion Brigham Young narrowly edged out San Diego State in the preseason MWC coaches poll released this morning.
BYU (46-13 last season) earned four first-place votes and 24 total points from the coaches, while the Aztecs (34-16 last season) got the remaining two first-place votes and 22 total points.
The Cougars are in their final year in the MWC before moving to the Western Athletic Conference next season. BYU, which went to its first Super Regional last season, is ranked 16th and 20th in the two major national preseason polls. The Cougars return seven starters from last season.
San Diego State, which was eliminated by Fresno State in the NCAA Los Angeles Regional a season ago, is ranked 27th and 42nd in the two national polls. The Aztecs reached their third consecutive NCAA Tournament last year (a first in school history) and return MWC Pitcher of the Year Samantha Beasley.
UNLV (33-20 last season) narrowly missed an at-large NCAA bid in 2010 and is picked to finish third this season. The Rebels return just three starters from last year's squad. Colorado State, with new head coach Jen Fisher, is predicted to finish fourth following a 29-20 (7-8 MWC) season.
Utah, in its final season in the MWC before bolting to the Pac-12, has been selected fifth. New Mexico returns five starters along with a new head coach in Erica Beach. The Lobos have been selected sixth and were ranked last on all coaches' ballots.
The Mountain West vs. WAC softball rivalry continues this season with 26 games between the two conferences. This year's schedule of MWC vs. WAC games: Colorado State at New Mexico State (Feb. 11, 13), San Diego State vs. Utah State (Feb. 12, 13), Nevada at UNLV (Feb. 17), Utah vs. Hawai'i (Feb. 18), BYU vs. Boise State (Feb. 18), Utah State at UNLV (Feb. 18), Utah vs. Nevada (Feb. 19, 27), UNLV vs. Boise State (Feb. 25), BYU vs. Fresno State (March 4), San Diego State vs. Fresno State (March 4), San Jose State at UNLV (March 6), San Diego State vs. Louisiana Tech (March 12), New Mexico at Nevada (March 13), New Mexico at San Jose State (March 16 DH), BYU at Hawai'i (March 17), Utah State at BYU (March 29), Boise State at Utah (March 30 DH), New Mexico at New Mexico State (April 4), BYU at Utah State (April 12), New Mexico State at New Mexico (April 19) and Utah at Utah State (April 26).
2011 MWC Preseason Coaches Poll
1. BYU (4) - 24
2. San Diego State (2) - 22
3. UNLV - 15
4. Colorado State - 13
5. Utah - 11
6. New Mexico - 5