The USA Today/NFCA preseason softball poll came out a couple of days ago, and the overwhelming No. 1 choice is two-time defending NCAA World Series champion Arizona (see link to poll in the right-hand column). The Wildcats received 27 of the 29 first-place votes. Taryne Mowatt, Arizona's pitching stalwart in last year's World Series, returns for her senior year. Two seniors who powered the Cats' offensive engine last season, Caitlin Lowe and Kristie Fox, are of course gone, leaving somewhat of a question mark about this year's run production.
The remainder of the projected top 5 include (in order)Texas A&M, Arizona State, Alabama, and Oklahoma. Major teams' returnees and senior losses from last season are summarized here.
I'm a University of Michigan alumnus (Ph.D., 1989), so maybe I'm looking at things through maize and blue-tinted glasses, but a preseason No. 12 ranking seems unduly low. Samantha Findlay, who hit the big home run to lead the Wolverines to the 2005 NCAA championship, returns for her senior year, accompanied by soph sister Angela Findlay. Also, by the end of last season, newcomer Nikki Nemitz (now a sophomore) had established herself as a solid pitcher.