KNOXVILLE, Tenn. – The two major national softball polls were released this week and for the 16th straight year, Tennessee is ranked in both polls to begin the season.
The Lady Vols are tabbed No. 8 in both the USA Today/NFCA Division I Preseason Coaches’ Poll and the //ESPN.com/USA Softball Collegiate Top 25 Poll as announced by the organizations on Tuesday.
Defending national champion Florida State begins the year as the No. 1 pick in the USA Today/NFCA Poll while UCLA begins 2019 as the No. 1 team in the preseason //ESPN.com/USA Softball Collegiate Top 25 Poll.
The SEC had the most teams represented in both polls once again as 11 schools were included in the NFCA Poll (eight in the top 15). The USA Softball Poll features 10 SEC teams, including eight in the top 15 and five in the top 10. Other SEC teams in the polls include Florida, Georgia, Alabama, South Carolina, LSU, Kentucky, Arkansas, Auburn, Texas A&M and Mississippi State. Ole Miss and Missouri also received votes in the polls.
The USA Today/NFCA Division I Top 25 Poll is voted on by 32 NCAA Division I head coaches, one representing each conference.
The //ESPN.com/USA Softball Collegiate Top 25 Poll is voted on by coaching representatives of 10 Division I Conferences in the 10 USA Softball Regions as well as members of the national and local media who consistently cover Division I Softball across the country.
The Lady Vols are coming off a 48-14 season which saw them reach their 15th consecutive NCAA Regional and their 10th overall Super Regional. Tennessee returns three players who earned SEC postseason honors a year ago and also brings back six of its top 10 hitters from 2018.
Last year, the Lady Vols finished the season ranked No. 10 in both the USA Today/NFCA Coaches’ Poll and the //ESPN.com/USA Softball Collegiate Top 25. 2018 marked the 15th consecutive year that the program earned a ranking in the final national polls.
The Big Orange begins its season at the Kickin’ Chicken Classic in Myrtle Beach, S.C., on Feb. 8 and then travels to Clearwater, Fla., for the St. Pete/Clearwater Elite Invitational on Feb. 15. Of the 16 participating teams in the invitational, 13 finished in the Top 25 of the NCAA Women’s Softball RPI last season. UT kicks off its home slate with the Tennessee Classic on Feb. 22 against Kansas.