Rebels Picked Second In MW Poll

Feb. 7, 2012

LAS VEGAS (UNLVRebels.com) - The UNLV softball team was picked to finish second in this year's Mountain West Preseason Poll, as voted on by the conference's five head coaches. The Rebels, who garnered 13 total points and one first-place vote, trailed the preseason favorite San Diego State Aztecs and their 16 points and four first-place nods.

The Rebels, who finished second in the conference last season with a 9-5 record, went 27-18 overall in 2011. They return 16 letterwinners from last season's squad. More impressively, nine starters, including the designated player, and three pitchers are back for the Scarlet & Gray. Offensively, more than 80% of the team's production from last season is back in the batter's box. Amanda Oliveto returns to the circle after a 21-10 freshman campaign that saw her throw two no-hitters and strike out 179 in 199.0 innings of work.

Three of UNLV's four 2011 all-conference honorees are back, as well. Senior Paige Emerson, junior Tayler Aleman and sophomore Tayler Van Acker return after their impressive seasons from a year ago.

Rounding out the MW's five-team 2012 lineup are, in order, Boise State (9 points), New Mexico (8) and Colorado State (4). Boise State is a new addition to the conference this season after playing its first three years in the Western Athletic Conference (WAC).

UNLV opens up its 31st season of softball this weekend in its own Sportco Kick-Off Classic (Feb. 10-12). Joining the Rebels at Eller Media Stadium, located on the corner of Harmon and Swenson, will be the CSU Bakersfield Roadrunners, Kent State Golden Flashes, Minnesota Golden Gophers, Weber State Wildcats and the nationally ranked Oklahoma Sooners. UNLV's first game is at 3:45 pm Friday against Oklahoma, which is ranked fifth and sixth, respectively, in the USA Today/NFCA and ESPN.com/USA Softball Top 25 Preseason Polls. The Rebels and Wildcats close out the action on the 10th at 6:00 pm.

Overall, the Rebels have 50 games scheduled this season. The team will play in a total of seven tournaments, three of which will be played at home, while the other four will occur in California. They will play 38 non-conference games before jumping into MW action for the final 12 regular-season contests.

Two of those conference tilts will be televised live by The MountainWest Sports Network (The Mtn.) and CBS Sports Network. The CSU-UNLV contest on Saturday, April 28 (1:00 pm) will be aired by The Mtn., while the SDSU-UNLV tilt on Saturday, May 12 (1:00 pm) will be shown by CBS Sports. Coincidentally, both of these opponents played against the Rebels on the small screen last season and produced some dramatic games both of which witnessed UNLV smash home runs in its final at-bats - a game-winning, three-run walk-off by Ashli Holland and a sixth-inning grand slam by Aleman.