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Softball earns first-ever preseason ranking

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UK softball is coming off a school-record 40-win season in 2011. (Brett Marshall, UK Athletics) UK softball is coming off a school-record 40-win season in 2011. (Brett Marshall, UK Athletics)
After a season full of firsts in 2011, Kentucky softball didn't wait long to continue the trend in 2012.

The Wildcats checked in at No. 13/18 in the two major polls to open 2012, the first preseason rankings in the history of the program. The preseason recognition comes on the heels of a 2011 season that saw UK finish its season by hosting a Super Regional and finishing in the top 15 of the national rankings. The Wildcats also set a school record with 40 wins.

UK is ranked No. 13 by the National Fastpitch Coaches Associates and 18th in the ESPN.com/USA Softball Collegiate Top 25 Poll.

Rachel Lawson, in just her fifth season as head coach, has transformed UK into a major softball threat on both the conference and national level. In 2012, she will be coaching 15 letterwinners from last year's team that advanced to a third consecutive NCAA Tournament.

The Southeastern Conference is perennially among the nation's most difficult leagues and this year looks to be no different. Alabama, Florida, Tennessee, Georgia and LSU each join UK among the nation's top-20 teams in the preseason.

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