Jan. 28, 2014
OKLAHOMA CITY, Okla. -- The University of Michigan softball team received the No. 4 position in the preseason ESPN.com/USA Softball poll Tuesday (Jan. 28), its second top-five ranking in the inaugural national polls of 2014. The Wolverines were previously voted No. 5 in the USA Today/NFCA preseason poll.
The Maize and Blue received 411 points total, placing U-M between No. 3 Florida (448 points) and No. 5 Washington (409 points). Tennessee opens the season as the No. 1 team in the country, the same spot it holds in the USA Today/NFCA preseason ranking, with Oklahoma in the No. 2 position.
The two national polls have the same quintet of teams occupying the top five positions, but with Florida and Michigan moved ahead of Washington in the ESPN.com/USA Softball poll. Nebraska is the other Big Ten representative in the preseason poll at No. 9.
Michigan is the six-time defending Big Ten champion and finished 2013 with a record of 51-13. The Maize and Blue earned its 10th Women's College World Series berth in 2013 and closed the season at No. 6 in the ESPN.com/USA Softball poll.
In 2014, the Wolverines will be led by head coach Carol Hutchins, who is now entering her 30th season at the helm. She is the third-winningest coach in NCAA softball history with a total of 1,325 career wins, including 1,302 at Michigan.
Michigan returns 16 letterwinners, including reigning Big Ten Player of the Year Sierra Romero (Murrieta, Calif./Vista Murrieta) and All-Big Ten performers Caitlin Blanchard (Petersburg, Mich./Summerfield), Sara Driesenga (Hudsonville, Mich./Hudsonville), Sierra Lawrence (Snellville, Ga./Greater Atlanta Christian), Lauren Sweet (Corona, Calif./Santiago) and Haylie Wagner (Orange, Calif./El Modeno).
The Wolverines are scheduled to play nine teams ranked in the preseason poll. U-M opens the season against Florida and South Florida on Saturday, Feb. 7, in Tampa, Fla.
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