Kentucky Softball Starts 2016 Ranked No. 18 in NFCA Top 25

LEXINGTON, Ky. – The Kentucky softball team was appointed to the No. 18 national ranking in the National Fastpitch Coaches Association to begin the 2016 campaign, it was announced on Tuesday afternoon in the release of the preseason poll.

This marks the third-straight season that Kentucky will begin the season ranked in the top-25 under the direction of ninth-year head coach Rachel Lawson. UK started the 2015 season in the No. 6 slot, its highest starting position in program history.

The Southeastern Conference continued its recent dominance of national polling, taking four of the top five slots in Tuesday’s top 25, while also holding five of the top eight teams, and eight teams – more than half the conference – in the top 18.

Kentucky will start the season on Feb. 12 at the Kajikawa Classic in Tempe, Ariz., against No. 24 Notre Dame before also facing No. 6 Oregon, No. 22 Arizona State and Utah, who received 22 votes.

The Wildcats all together in 2016 will face 12 currently ranked teams and 19 teams who will begin the season ranked, or receiving votes. Kentucky will have seven games against the top six teams in the country – with three games each against No. 3 LSU (April 9-11), No. 4 Auburn (April 1-3) and No. 6 Oregon (Feb. 13).

Two-time defending National Champion Florida will start the 2016 campaign atop the poll as the Gators (60-7) received 26 first-place votes and totaled 782 points to earn the No. 1 ranking in the USA Today/NFCA Division I Preseason Coaches Poll.

2016 USA Today/NFCA Coaches Preseason Poll

Note: UK opponents in bold

1. Florida (26)

2. Michigan (2)

3. LSU (2)

4. Auburn (1)

5. Alabama (1)

6. Oregon

7. UCLA

8. Tennessee

9. Oklahoma

10. Florida State

11. Louisiana Lafayette

12. Georgia

13. Arizona

14. Minnesota

15. Missouri

16. Baylor

17. UCF

18. KENTUCKY

19. James Madison

20. Washington

21. California

22. Arizona State

23. North Carolina State

24. Notre Dame

25. South Alabama

RV: Texas A&M (38), North Dakota State (32), Utah (22), Hofstra (14), Nebraska (13), Texas (12), Northwestern (10), Ohio State (6), North Carolina (6), Florida Atlantic (5), Mississippi State (5), USC Upstate (4), UAB (4), Western Kentucky (4), Fresno State (3), Kansas (2), Louisville (2), Pittsburgh (2).

For the latest on the Kentucky softball team, follow @UKSoftball on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook, as well as on the web at UKathletics.com.