By Stephen Lee
The National Fastpitch Coaches Association (NFCA) released the 2015 USA Today/NFCA Division I Top 25 Preseason Poll on Tuesday with Tennessee ranked at No. 13.
Tennessee has been ranked in each of the last 11 USA Today/NFCA Division I Top 25 Preseason Polls. UT has been ranked in the top 20 in each of those 11 polls, in the top 10 six times and in the top 5 four times.
Defending national champion Florida starts the year at No. 1, garnering 20 first-place votes. Oregon, Alabama, Oklahoma and Florida State round out the top 5, in that order.
Once again, the Southeastern Conference led the way with nine teams in the top 25 — four more than any other conference. The SEC’s top 25 teams include No. 1 Florida, No. 3 Alabama, No. 6 Kentucky, No. 12 Georgia, No. 13 Tennessee, No. 17 Missouri, No. 19 LSU, No. 20 Auburn and No. 24 Texas A&M. South Carolina was among 12 unranked teams receiving votes (three).
UT went 46-12 in 2014 and played in its seventh NCAA Super Regional. The Lady Vols collected just about every major award in collegiate softball in 2014 and return 2014 NFCA Division I National Freshman of the Year Co-Winner and All-American Annie Aldrete. Tennessee’s 2015 roster features 10 returning veterans and eight newcomers.
Tennessee begins its 2015 season against Ohio on Feb. 6 in the Kennesaw State Tournament in Kennesaw, Ga. UT’s home opener is Feb. 24 against Georgia Tech. The Lady Vols’ first SEC home series is March 20-22 against Missouri.
Season tickets are now on sale at UTTIX.com. They can also be purchased by calling the Tennessee ticket office at 865-656-1200 or by visiting Thompson-Boling Arena’s street-level ticket office on Phillip Fulmer Way.