Five of the dozen Conference USA coaches took the easy way out on voting. They saw an FIU team that finished 33-20, 15-9 in Conference USA last season and returns almost everybody, including pitchers Corinne Jenkins and Shelby Graves and C-USA Freshman of the Year Stephanie Texeira.
So those five coaches voted FIU as the preseason conference favorite. FIU shares that spot with last year's conference runner-up, Alabama-Birmingham, which also pulled five first-place votes. FAU and Marshall got the other two. Texeira, who hit .408 with 11 homers, 41 RBI and a .740 slugging percentage last year, was the only Panther on the preseason all-conference team.
FIU hosts the Conference USA tournament this year on Felsberg Field at FIU Softball Stadium. Hopefully, they'll have a replacement for this Reagan Era-locker room building they share with tennis by then.