Kentucky softball best-ever No. 12 in pre-season coaches' poll

January 21, 2014 

ukVvaTech

The University of Kentucky Softball team celebrated their, 1-0, defeat of Virginia Tech in the KY Regional Championship Game of the 2013 NCAA D1 Softball Tournament, Sunday, May 19, 2013 at John Cropp Stadium in Lexington. Photo by Jonathan Palmer

JONATHAN PALMER — Herald-Leader Buy Photo

The University of Kentucky softball team was ranked No. 12 in the USA Today/National Fastpitch Coaches Association Division I Preseason Top 25 announced Tuesday.

The pre-season ranking is UK's highest ever.

Kentucky's previous-best pre-season ranking was No. 13 in 2012.

UK, which was not ranked in last season's pre-season poll, finished the 2013 season with a school-record 41 wins en route to an appearance in an NCAA Super Regional and No. 14 final ranking. The Wildcats return 15 letter winners from that squad, including eight starters and two starting pitchers.

"This pre-season ranking speaks to the hard work that our current team and every former player has put in, but in the big picture our team knows there is more work to do," said Rachel Lawson, who is entering her seventh season as the Wildcats' head coach. "We have a veteran bunch this year that knows the discipline and focus it takes to be successful and we are solely concentrated on that and getting as prepared as possible for our spring schedule."

The Southeastern Conference led all leagues with eight selections to the Top 25. Joining Kentucky were No. 1 Tennessee, No. 4 Florida, No. 6 Alabama, No. 11 Texas A&M, No. 14 Missouri, No. 17 LSU and No. 23 Georgia.

Louisville enters the season ranked No. 19. Western Kentucky was among other teams receiving votes.

The USA Today/NFCA Division I Top 25 is voted on by 32 NCAA Division I head coaches, one representing each conference.

Kentucky will begin its 18th season on Feb. 6 in Long Beach, Calif., at the Mizuno Invitational. The Wildcats will play five games in the West Coast tournament beginning with their season opener vs. Santa Clara.

USA Today/NFCA Division I Softball Poll

The USA Today/NFCA pre-season Top 25 with 2013 record, points received and last season's final ranking (first-place votes in parentheses):

Rank, Team 2013 record Pts Prv

1. Tennessee (7) 52-12 729 2

2. Oklahoma (17) 57-4 720 1

3. Washington (1) 45-17 702 4

4. Florida (6) 58-9 684 5

5. Michigan (1) 51-13 652 6

6. Alabama 45-15 604 10

7. Arizona State 50-12 593 7

8. Oregon 50-11 576 9

9. Nebraska 45-16 572 8

10. Texas 51-10 532 3

11. Texas A&M 42-18 383 13

12. Kentucky 41-21 374 14

13. Louisiana Lafayette 47-15 367 12

14. Missouri 38-14 357 11

15. Florida State 44-19 317 15

16. UCLA 40-20 282 21

17. LSU 42-16 269 18

18. Baylor 42-17 244 20

19. Louisville 48-13 235 19

20. South Alabama 48-9 194 17

21. UAB 40-19 181 16

22. Stanford 39-21 164 22

23. Georgia 40-21 149 —

24. California 38-19 125 23

25. USF 45-16 98 —

Others receiving votes: Hawaii 86, Arizona 45, Arkansas 28, Hofstra 27, Tulsa 23, Wisconsin 21, North Carolina State 16, Auburn 10, Long Beach State 8, Notre Dame 8, Virginia Tech 8, Houston 6, BYU 5, Oregon State 3, North Carolina 2, Western Kentucky 1.

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