KLAMATH FALLS, Ore--- Southern Oregon and Oregon Tech's softball teams were the last two left standing in the nation. Southern Oregon won its second consecutive NAIA National Championship, and Oregon Tech fell runner-up to the Raiders. In 2022, both are predicted to finish the top-three of the Cascade Conference despite dramatically different roster situations.
The 2022 Preseason CCC Coaches' Poll was released Tuesday by the conference office.
We will start with Oregon Tech. The Owls, who finished 48-10 in 2021, have been predicted to finish atop the Cascade Conference. Tech received 98 points including eight of the 11 first-place votes.
It is worth remembering, while Southern Oregon won the 2021 National Title, the Owls are the defending conference champions.
Oregon Tech will return all but two players from the 2021 roster (Olivia Lethlean, Logan Nunes).
Being predicted to sit atop the conference is a major compliment in the national spotlight after three of the conference's teams finished in the top-four of the NAIA Championship.
"Oregon Tech softball is excited to kick off our season this February with an outstanding group of returners and some talented new players," said head coach Greg Stewart. "The Cascade Conference has proven to be one of the most competitive conferences in the country and to have our players and this program recognized by the other CCC coaches in this preseason poll is an honor."
Southern Oregon was picked to finish third in the conference with 85 points and a first-place vote.
Head coach Jessica Pistole and the Raiders are in the exact opposite position in terms of roster returners. Southern Oregon will lose a majority of its national championship team including Gabby Sandoval, Lauren Quirke, Hannah Shimek, Allie Stines, Tayler Walker, Avery Morehead-Hustell, Olivia Mackey, and more.
Still, it appears as though Jessica Pistole has clearly earned her respect among the CCC Coaches. Even with the dramatic shift in the roster and losing assistant Mike Mayben to the head coaching position at Arizona Christian, the coaches still see SOU as being a top contender for the conference.
The College of Idaho will be sandwiched between Tech and SOU. COI was picked to finish second in the CCC. The Yotes picked up 90 points in the coaches' poll with two first-place votes.
COI was on the brink being in the 2021 NAIA Championship final and finished No. 3 in the NAIA postseason standings.
The CCC schedule is set to begin on February 25, 2022. The conference tournament will happen May 6-8, at the site of the regular season champion.
The conference has two automatic qualifiers to the NAIA Tournament. The winner of the regular-season championship will take the first spot. The winner of the CCC Tournament will get the other. If one team wins both, the runner-up of the CCC Tournament will claim the second spot.
Below is the 2022 CCC Softball Preseason Coaches' Poll:
1. Oregon Tech- 98 (8)
2. College of Idaho- 90 (2)
3. Southern Oregon- 85 (1)
4. Corban University- 70
5. Eastern Oregon University- 64
6. Warner Pacific University- 47
7. Carroll College- 45
8. UBC- 38
9. Bushnell University- 31
10. Northwest University- 26
11. University of Providence- 11