IRVING — Senior outfielder Darian Blake and junior catcher Megan Low were named preseason All-Conference USA, while the circuit’s head coaches picked UTSA to finish in ninth place, the league office announced on Tuesday.
Blake started 47 games a season ago and led the Roadrunners with 54 hits, 24 runs, three triples and a .360 batting average en route to earning first-team All-Western Athletic Conference honors. Occupying the top spot in the batting order for most of the season, the Katy native recorded a .407 on-base percentage and stole seven bases in as many attempts. She added 60 putouts and two assists against just two errors in the field.
Meanwhile, Low was second on the squad last season with a .326 batting average and five home runs. She started all 53 games for the Birds and led the team with 13 doubles, 27 walks, 32 RBIs, a .467 on-base percentage and a .525 slugging percentage. A force in the middle of the UTSA order, Low tied an NCAA record by drawing four intentional walks during a game last season. In addition, the Spring native committed just four errors in 269 chances and threw out 11 would-be base stealers during the campaign.
The Roadrunners, which return 90 percent of their run production from 2013, were picked to finish ninth in the preseason poll behind No. 21 UAB, Tulsa, Marshall, East Carolina, North Texas, FIU, Florida Atlantic and Louisiana Tech. Fresh off the C-USA regular season title and an appearance in their first-ever NCAA Super Regional last spring, the Blazers earned seven first-place votes, while the Golden Hurricane garnered five and the Pirates picked up one.
Additionally, Tulsa’s Jill Barrett was selected as the preseason Player of the Year, while Golden Hurricane righty Aimee Creger was tabbed the preseason Pitcher of the Year.
UTSA returns 12 letterwinners from last year’s squad that won 27 games and finished fifth in the WAC. The Roadrunners, under first-year head coach Michelle Cheatham, will open their 23rd season of play by hosting Lamar in a three-game series on Feb. 8-9.