Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Florida Ranked No. 1 in Preseason Polls

Two-time defending national champion Florida has been ranked No. 1 in both the USA Today/NFCA and ESPN.com/USA Softball preseason polls. Last year's national runner-up Michigan is ranked second. The voters in the two polls feel very strongly about this, as the Gators received 26 and 17 first-place votes, respectively, in the aforementioned polls, with the Wolverines receiving only 2 and 1.

Now, as a Michigan alum, I admit I may be biased. Still, I was expecting the Wolverines to come in at No. 1 in the preseason polls. Florida loses Lauren Haeger, who last year as a senior, was the Gators' primary pitcher and leading offensive threat (see "Pre-Game Stats" at the bottom of this posting). The Wolverines' star 2B Sierra Romero returns for her senior campaign, with several starters from last year also returning. Perhaps some voters subscribe to the philosophy that, as winners of the last two NCAA titles, the Gators should be No. 1 until someone dethrones them, and that's fine.

Other highly ranked teams in the polls include LSU (No. 3 in both polls, with a pair of first-place votes in each), Auburn (4 and 6 in the two polls), Alabama (No. 5 in both polls), and Oregon (6 and 4).