Jan. 22, 2013
LOUISVILLE, Ky. - The National Fastpitch Coaches Association released the 2013 USA Today/NFCA Division I Top 25 Preseason Poll on Tuesday with Tennessee ranked at No. 6.
Defending national champion Alabama claimed the top spot with Oklahoma, California, Arizona State and Oregon rounding out spots 2-5, respectively.
Tennessee was the second-highest ranked SEC team. The SEC boasts five teams in the top 10, more than any other conference. New conference member Missouri, Georgia and LSU took spots 8-10, respectively. The SEC has seven teams in the top 25 with Florida ranking 14th and new conference member Texas A&M ranking 17th. The SEC and Pac-12 each had seven teams ranked in the Top 25 to tie for the lead among all conferences.
The Lady Vols have been ranked in the preseason top 16 each year dating back to 2005. UT's highest preseason ranking was No. 2 back in 2007. This year's ranking marks the fifth time Tennessee has started the year ranked in the top 10 of the USA Today/NFCA Preseason Poll.
The 2013 Lady Vols feature 13 returning letterwinners and six exciting freshmen. This spring, the UT returns all four of its 2012 Louisville Slugger/NFCA All-Americans in Lauren Gibson, Ellen Renfroe, Raven Chavanne and Madison Shipman and five All-Americans total (Kat Dotson in 2010). Tennessee's freshman class features three 2012 ESPN 100 players in outfielder Rainey Gaffin (ranked No. 16), catcher Lexi Overstreet (No. 45) and pitcher Erin Gabriel (No. 71).
Tennessee opens the 2013 season on Feb. 7 against Southern Utah in the Red Desert Classic in St. George, Utah. The Lady Vols open their home slate against Lipscomb on Feb. 26 at 5 p.m.