Graig Mantle

The defending Big West Conference champion Cal Poly softball team was narrowly selected to take first place again this season in the preseason coaches poll released Tuesday.

Last season marked the Cal Poly softball program’s first Big West title and its first trip to the NCAA Division I Tournament.

The Mustangs accrued two first-place votes and earned 56 points overall, edging out Cal State Fullerton and Long Beach State, which earned 55 and 52 points apiece, respectively.

Cal Poly returns five All-Big West selections and 11 letterwinners from the 2007 squad that went 39-17, while Big West runner-up Cal State Fullerton, which earned three first-place votes in the poll, brings back nine letterwinners.

This year’s projected second-place Titans were the only Big West program that made it to the Super Regional round of the 2007 NCAA Tournament.

The 49ers, who were not selected for postseason play last season, earned two first-place votes.

Rounding out the middle of the poll were Pacific in fourth, Cal State Northridge in fifth and UC Davis, a newcomer to the Big West, in sixth.

UC Santa Barbara and UC Riverside complete the poll in the bottom two spots.

Palm Springs will host Cal Poly’s opening game of the season at 3:30 p.m. Feb. 8 at the Cathedral City Kickoff, as the Mustangs take on 2007 Women’s College World Series participant Texas A&M.

Cal Poly begins Big West play with a doubleheader against Cal State Fullerton at noon March 29 and 30.

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