SEC coaches pick UF softball
Published: Monday, January 30, 2012 at 2:24 p.m.
Last Modified: Monday, January 30, 2012 at 2:24 p.m.
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – Florida is predicted to win the 2012 SEC softball title after a vote by the league's head coaches, the SEC announced Monday.
The Gators finished 56-13 a year ago and were the national runners-up in Oklahoma City. Florida led the conference with six of out of 11 possible first-place votes, followed by Tennessee, with five.
Last week, UF checked in at No. 2 in the USA Today/NFCA Division I Top 25 Preseason Poll, while picking up the No. 4 spot in ESPN.com/USA Softball's Collegiate Top 25 Preseason Poll. Florida finished 21-7 in 2011 conference play en route to its fourth-straight SEC Eastern Division title, the program's fifth all-time, while producing a nation-leading and program-record six All-Americans and five Academic All-Americans through UF's fourth 50-win season last year.
Tennessee, the SEC Tournament Champion a year ago, was picked second in the Eastern Division behind Florida, while Kentucky, Georgia and South Carolina rounded out the Eastern Division picks in third, fourth and fifth place, respectively.
In the Western Division, Alabama was picked to finish first, while LSU and Auburn claimed the second and third-place spots. Mississippi State, Arkansas and Ole Miss were predicted to finish fourth, fifth and sixth in the West, respectively.
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.
The league will begin 2012 softball action Feb. 9 and conference play begins March 7. The 2012 SEC Softball Tournament will be held May 10-12 at Rhoads Stadium on the campus of University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa, Ala.
The Gators start the season Feb. 10-12 at the USF-Fairfield Inn and Suites Tampa North Tournament, hosted by South Florida in Tampa. The Gators return three All-Americans in senior centerfielder Michelle Moultrie (Jacksonville), junior catcher Brittany Schutte (Fountain Valley, Calif.) and sophomore righty Hannah Rogers (Lake Wales, Fla.), and boast a slate of seven newcomers, including USA Softball Women's Junior National Team members Lauren Haeger (Peoria, Ariz.) and Jess Damico (Gray Summit, Mo.), along with the 2011 Gatorade Florida Softball Player of the Year in Sami Fagan (Dunnellon).
Florida's home opener is against Jacksonville University on Feb. 15 at 5 p.m. at Katie Seashole Pressly Stadium.