Jan. 24, 2012
COLUMBIA, Mo. – A week after being voted as the top Big 12 team in the preseason coaches’ poll, the Missouri softball program earned their highest preseason ranking ever, coming in at No. 5 in the ESPN.com/USA Softball Division I Top 25. The Tigers rank No. 6 in the NFCA/USA Today preseason poll.
With their top-five ranking in the ESPN.com/USA Softball poll, Mizzou leads all other Big 12 programs in the preseason poll. Two other Big 12 teams come in right behind Missouri, with Oklahoma sitting sixth and Baylor coming in seventh. Ranked 15th is Texas A&M, while Oklahoma State is tied for 16th. The Texas Longhorns are ranked 19th and Texas Tech is receiving votes.
Defending NCAA champion Arizona State received 19 of the 20 first place votes in the ESPN.com/USA Softball poll, while Alabama, California and Florida, along with the Tigers, round out the top-five. The Pac-12 Conference leads the way with seven ranked teams, while both the Big 12 and SEC have six teams apiece.
Missouri finished at No. 6 last season after winning the Big 12 Championship and qualifying for their third consecutive Women’s College World Series. They return 11 letterwinners from last year’s squad, including All-American pitcher Chelsea Thomas and All-American outfielder Ashley Fleming, along with All-Big 12 honorees Nicole Hudson and Jenna Marston.
The Tigers open their season with the annual Black and Gold game on Feb. 11 at 3 p.m. CT in the Devine Pavilion. The regular season will kick off in Troy, Ala., at the Quality Inn Classic on Feb. 17 with Ball State and Troy. For more information on Missouri softball, stay tuned to mutigers.com and follow us on Twitter (@MizzouSoftball).