Stanislaus lets bats, not polls, do talking

Polls? Bah.

The Cal State Stanislaus softball team dismisses preseason polls. It's what the Warriors do on the field that will prove their worth.

Rain? That's another story.

Wet weather threatens to disrupt the Mizuno Best of the West Invitational which is scheduled to begin today at Turlock's Pedretti Park.

Stanislaus, the 2007 Far West Region champ, is to play Seattle today at 12:15 p.m. and Cal State San Bernardino at 2:30.

Coach Jan Schefkowitz said the games may get pushed back a little, but she expects everyone will play.

The weather has done little to dampen the Warriors' spirits. They practiced at Pedretti Park on Thursday afternoon and were still buzzing after a team dinner that night.

"Practicing at Pedretti really sparked it," senior catcher Jessica Scholl said. "Everybody got really excited doing pregame warm-ups. We're ready to go."

The Warriors were narrowly edged for first place in the California Collegiate Athletic Association preseason coaches poll by defending conference champ Humboldt State. The Lumberjacks received 60 points and four first-place votes. The Warriors got 58 points and five first-place votes.

Though Humboldt was picked to finish first in the conference, Stanislaus was predicted by a separate coaches poll to win the conference tournament. Seven of the nine CCAA teams will be in this weekend's tournament.

While pleased to be thought of as capable of winning the CCAA Tournament, Scholl said the Warriors feel challenged by the National Fastpitch Coaches Association Division II preseason poll, where they're ranked 10th and Humboldt sixth.

"We thought we should have been a little bit higher," Scholl said. "It gives us nine more teams we have to beat. Last year people didn't expect anything of us and there was no pressure. Everyone expects us to do well this year. That's more exciting because we want to do better."

HOME SWEET HOME -- Think of Saturday as an oasis in the middle of a desert for the Cal State Stanislaus basketball teams. After five consecutive road games, the Warriors come home, only to travel for their next four games before wrapping up the CCAA season with four home games.

A home crowd will be a welcome change for the Warriors, who take on UC San Diego in a women's-men's doubleheader starting at 5:50 p.m. Before beating Chico State on Thursday, the Stanislaus men's last victory came at home Jan. 5. UC San Diego narrowly beat Stanislaus on Nov. 30, a 63-60 home victory for the Tritons.

The Stanislaus women are fighting for a spot in the CCAA Tournament, which features the top eight of 11 CCAA teams. The Warrior women lead the CCAA in blocked shots (4.62).

JC BASEBALL RANKINGS -- In the first Northern California baseball coaches preseason poll, Merced is listed at No. 8 and Modesto is No. 11. At the top of the list is Modesto's Big 8 rival and defending champion Sacramento City, followed by Merced's Central Valley Conference competition Fresno City, the 2007 champion.