WKU has been picked to win the Conference USA East Division after garnering eight first-place votes from league coaches on Thursday. Junior catcher Kendall Smith, junior pitcher Shelby Nunn and senior pitcher Kelsey Aikey were all named to the C-USA Preseason All-Conference team as well.
Marshall received three first-place votes and is predicted to finish second in the division, just behind WKU. Charlotte, Middle Tennessee, Florida Atlantic and FIU finish out the division respectively.
North Texas was picked to win the West division with 10 first-place votes. UAB and Southern Miss both received one vote each with UTSA, Louisiana Tech and UTEP rounding out the rest of the division.
Aikey and Nunn make up two of the three pitchers selected for the all-conference team and are joined by North Texas’ Hope Trautwein, who received Preseason Pitcher of the Year honors. Kendall Smith is one of two catchers selected on the team and is represented alongside Charlotte’s Bailey Vandy.
WKU softball will begin play on Feb. 12 at the Bash in the Boro tournament hosted by Georgia Southern. WKU’s first home games will be played on Feb. 27-28, but information about tickets and attendance is still being finalized. The full season schedule is set to be released in the coming days.
WKU will host the Conference USA Softball Championships on May 12-15.
Preseason accolades are as listed below. East Division
1. WKU (8)
2. Marshall (3)
3. Charlotte (1)
4. Middle Tennessee
5. Florida Atlantic
1. North Texas (10)
2. UAB (1)
3. Southern Miss (1)
5. Louisiana Tech
PLAYER OF THE YEAR
Aly Harrell, Marshall (Senior, IF)
PITCHER OF THE YEAR
Hope Trautwein, North Texas (Senior, RHP)
Pitcher: Kelsey Aikey R-Sr. WKU
Pitcher: Shelby Nunn R-Jr. WKU
Pitcher: Hope Trautwein Sr. North Texas
Catcher: Kendall Smith R-Jr. WKU
Catcher: Bailey Vannoy Jr. Charlotte
Infielder: Sierra Huerta Sr. Marshall
Infielder: Summer Burgess Gr. Middle Tennessee
Infielder: Lexi Cushing Gr. Middle Tennessee
Infielder: Aly Harrell Sr. Marshall
Infielder: Riley Grunberg So. UTSA
Infielder: Tayla Evans Jr. North Texas
Outfielder: Kasey Flores Jr. UTEP
Outfielder: Mya Stevenson Jr. Marshall
Outfielder: Celeste Loughman Sr. UTSA
Outfielder: Madison Rayner Jr. Southern Miss
DP/Utility: Saige Pye Sr. Marshall
Softball beat reporter Jake Moore can be reached at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter @Charles_JMoore.