Jan. 29, 2013
OKLAHOMA CITY - The Amateur Softball Association of America (ASA) and USA Softball announced its 2013 Pre-season ESPN.com/USA Softball Collegiate Top 25 Poll on Tuesday with Tennessee ranked at No. 5.
Defending national champion Alabama took the top spot and picked up 13 first-place votes. Oklahoma was No. 2 and received the remaining seven first-place votes. California and Arizona State took No. 3 and No. 4, respectively. Six of the schools in the pre-season top eight participated in the 2012 Women's College World Series.
The SEC and Pac-12 lead all conferences with seven teams ranked in the poll. Other ranked SEC schools include No. 7 Missouri, No. 8 Georgia, No. 12 LSU, No. 14 Florida and No. 17 Texas A&M. Mississippi State is receiving votes.
Tennessee's No. 5 ranking marks the best ranking for UT in the preseason poll since 2007 when UT was No. 2 with five first-place votes. This year's ranking also marks the third consecutive season the Lady Vols will open play in the top 10 of the ESPN.com/USA Softball Collegiate Top 25 Poll.
Last week, Tennessee received a No. 6 ranking in the 2013 USA Today/NFCA Division I Top 25 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 schedule at Lee Stadium against Lipscomb on Feb. 26 at 5 p.m.
The ESPN.com/USA Softball Collegiate Top 25 Poll is currently in its 11th year. Starting Feb. 12, regular season polls will be released for 14 consecutive Tuesdays with the final poll of the season to be released on June 11 following the WCWS. The first of 14 USA Softball Collegiate Players of the Week will also be announced on Feb. 12 with a new player chosen each Tuesday of the regular season.
In addition to conducting the ESPN.com/USA Softball collegiate Top 25 Poll and the USA Softball Player of the Week, ASA/USA Softball is also in the 12th season of the USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year award. The Top 50 Watch List for the USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year will be announced Feb. 1 with the Top 25 announced April 10, the Top 10 announced May 8 and the Top 3 announced May 22. The 2012 USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year will be revealed May 28. Oklahoma's Keilani Ricketts was named the 2012 USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year following a stellar junior season. She returns to collegiate action this year as do five other Top 10 Finalists from last season. UT senior third baseman Raven Chavanne was a Top 10 Finalist in 2011 and 2012 and has been in the Top 25 in each of her three seasons.