IRVING, Texas – Defending American Athletic Conference regular season and tournament champion UCF was selected as the favorite to win the 2023 American Athletic Conference softball title in voting that was done by the league’s head coaches, the conference announced Tuesday.

East Carolina University was picked to finish sixth out of the seven teams in the league.

The Knights earned four first-place votes and 34 points in the preseason rankings, as voted on by the conference’s seven head coaches. UCF won their second American softball championship a season ago, winning the tournament as the conference’s top seed (16-2 conference record) following an 11-0 win over South Florida on May 14, 2022 at the Max R. Joyner Family Stadium in Greenville, N.C. The Knights advanced the NCAA Super Regionals for the first time in program history, finishing the season with a 49-14 (.778) overall record.

Wichita State came in at second place in the preseason poll with 33 points and three first-place votes after finishing the 2022 season in second place in the regular season with a 14-4 (.778) conference record and 34-18 (.654) overall record. The Shockers reached their sixth NCAA Regional in program history. The Shockers return All-American and 2022 American Athletic Conference Player of the Year Addison Barnard.

South Florida (12-5 conference record in 2022) was picked to finish third with 24 points following a season that saw their 17th NCAA Regional appearance, including five of the past six NCAA tournaments. Houston (8-9 conference record in 2022) was one point behind the Bulls in fourth with 23 points, followed by Tulsa (7-9 conference record in 2022) in fifth with 14 points. East Carolina (2-16 conference record in 2022) and Memphis (2-16 conference record in 2022) rounded out the preseason poll in sixth and seventh, respectively.

2023 American Athletic Conference Preseason Softball Coaches Poll

1.UCF (4)34
2.Wichita State (3)33
3.South Florida24
4.Houston23
5.Tulsa14
6.East Carolina12
7.Memphis7

(#) denotes first place votes