Alabama softball is ranked third in the first preseason poll of 2015, released Tuesday by the National Fastpitch Coaches Association. This is the Crimson Tide’s highest preseason ranking since 2013, when Alabama entered the year at No. 1 as the defending national champions.

Defending national champion Florida claimed the top spot, receiving 20 of 29 possible first-place votes, while Oregon, Oklahoma and Florida State round out the rest of the top five. In total, nine SEC schools are ranked in the Top 25, which is the most of any conference. Other ranked SEC schools besides Florida and Alabama include Kentucky (6), Georgia (12), Tennessee (13), Missouri (17), LSU (19), Auburn (20) and Texas A&M (24). South Carolina is also receiving votes just outside the top 25.

A total of nine ranked opponents await Alabama on its 2015 schedule, including out-of-conference matchups against South Alabama (23), Michigan (8) and Louisiana-Lafayette (9). Ranked SEC opponents on the schedule include Florida, Kentucky, Georgia, Tennessee, Auburn and Texas A&M.

Alabama finished the 2014 season with a 53-13 record, marking the eighth time in the last nine years the Tide have won over 50 games. The Tide also made its ninth WCWS appearance, winning three games before falling to Florida in the championship series. Alabama went 19-5 in conference play, winning its fifth SEC regular season championship, the third in the last four years. The Tide return 13 players from last year’s team, including seniors Chaunsey Bell, Danae Hays, Leslie Jury, Danielle Richard and Jadyn Spencer.

 

NFCA Top 25 Poll – Preseason (Jan. 20)

  1. Florida (20)
  2. Oregon (8)
  3. Alabama
  4. Oklahoma (1)
  5. Florida State
  6. Kentucky
  7. UCLA
  8. Michigan
  9. Louisiana-Lafayette
  10. Baylor
  11. Washington
  12. Georgia
  13. Tennessee
  14. Arizona
  15. Minnesota
  16. Arizona State
  17. Missouri
  18. Nebraska
  19. LSU
  20. Auburn
  21. Tulsa
  22. Notre Dame
  23. South Alabama
  24. Texas A&M
  25. DePaul