KNOXVILLE, Tenn. – The No. 9 Tennessee Lady Vol softball squad received five of 11 possible first-place votes for overall champion and was picked second behind #2/4 Florida in the races for both the Southeastern Conference’s regular season and Eastern Division titles according to the 2012 preseason poll of the league’s 11 softball coaching staffs released on Monday.
With 15 accumulated points the Big Orange trailed the defending Eastern Division champion Gators (14 points) by only a single tally in the divisional ranking, while coming up just a single vote behind UF as the preseason pick for regular-season champion. No. 13/18 Kentucky (32 points), No. 10/12 Georgia (35 points) and South Carolina (48 points) rounded out the five programs in the East. The SEC Eastern Division currently boasts three of the top 12 squads in all of NCAA Division I according to the preseason ESPN.com/USA Softball poll and four of the top 14 in the initial USA Today/NFCA listing.
The two-time defending regular season champion Alabama Crimson Tide (10 points) was the unanimous choice by the coaches to secure the SEC Western Division crown. The gap between No. 3/2 UA and No. 22/20 LSU (19 points) was nine points while Auburn ranked third with 28 tallies. Mississippi State (40 points), Arkansas (46 points) and Ole Miss (54 points) completed the SEC West standings.
Points for the poll were awarded on a 1-2-3-4-5 basis for the Eastern Division and on a 1-2-3-4-5-6 basis for the Western Division. Coaches were not allowed to vote for their own team.
Tennessee will begin its 2012 campaign at 4:30 p.m. MT on Thurs., Feb. 9, against UCSB at the Kajikawa Classic in Tempe, Ariz. During its stay at the prestigious event, the Big Orange will also face No. 4/3 California, Texas Tech, San Diego State, defending national champion and preseason No. 1 Arizona State and Western Michigan. Live stats will be available through Gametracker and live updates will be posted on Twitter (@LadyVol_Sftball).
2012 Preseason SEC Coaches Poll
Overall Conference Champion: Florida (6), TENNESSEE (5)
1. Florida (14 points)
2. TENNESSEE (15 points)
3. Kentucky (32 points)
4. Georgia (35 points)
5. South Carolina (48 points)
1. Alabama (10 points)
2. LSU (19 points)
3. Auburn (28 points)
4. Mississippi State (40 points)
5. Arkansas (46 points)
6. Ole Miss (54 points)