Jan. 21, 2014
WACO, Texas - After a 42-17 record and an NCAA Regional Tournament appearance in 2013, Baylor's softball team begins the 2014 campaign ranked No. 18 in Tuesday's USA Today/ NFCA Preseason Top 25 poll.
Baylor will be gunning for its eighth NCAA Regional Tournament appearance since 2004 and its first Women's College World Series appearance since 2011.
The Bears began practice last week and open the season Feb. 7 at the SportCo Kickoff Classic in Las Vegas where Baylor will play five games in three days.
"We're excited to begin the season and honored to be ranked by the NFCA," said Baylor head coach Glenn Moore. "But, as always the most important ranking of the year is at the conclusion of the season, and our focus will be on continuing to improve as a team throughout the year."
The Bears return 15 players from last year's team including eight starters. Among the returnees are senior left-handed pitcher Whitney Canion, senior first baseman Holly Holl, junior outfielder Kaitlyn Thumann and sophomore third baseman Sarah Smith.
Canion was a First-Team All-Big 12 selection while Thumann and Smith were second-team selections. Canion and Holl were also named to the Second-Team All-NFCA All-Central Region Team.
Along with Baylor, Big 12 foes Texas and Oklahoma were ranked as well with the Longhorns checking in at No. 10 and the defending national champion Sooners were ranked No. 2. Tennessee took the top spot in the preseason poll.
2014 USA TODAY / NFCA Preseason Top 25