OKLAHOMA CITY – After generating the most prolific season in school history in 2011, the Kentucky softball team will open 2012 season ranked No. 18 in the nation, as voted by the ESPN.com/USA Softball Collegiate Top 25 Poll. It marks the first time in school history the Wildcats will begin a season ranked among the top-25 rated teams in the nation.
“We are very appreciative of the early recognition in the ESPN/USA Top 25,” Lawson said. “It is our program’s intention to not only live up to this expectation, but to also build throughout the season in the hope of exceeding it.”
Kentucky ended last season ranked among the nation’s top 15 teams. That team set a single-season school-record with 40 wins and six single-season offensive records including home runs. UK knocked off 12 top-25 ranked opponents through the season, won a school-best five Southeastern Conference series, appeared in a third consecutive NCAA Tournament and advanced to the final field of 16 in the NCAA tournament for the first time in school history.
Kentucky is one of six SEC squads to begin the year ranked in the top 20 nationally, with Auburn also garnering votes. Alabama (2), Florida (4), Tennessee (9), Georgia (12) and LSU (20) were the other conference squads to earn a spot among the nation’s preseason picks as the top teams in the country.
The Wildcats first entered the polls in 2011 following the opening weekend of play after charting a 3-1 weekend to open the season. UK was then among the top 25 for the remainder of the season including the final rankings. Kentucky has now been ranked in 16 consecutive polls including last season’s final release and this season’s preseason poll.