The Nebraska softball team earned its highest preseason ranking in a decade on Tuesday, when it came in at No. 9 in the USA Today/NFCA top-25 poll. The last time the Huskers began a season ranked in the top 10 was in 2004, when Nebraska opened the year with a No. 8 ranking.
The Huskers are one of two teams from the Big Ten Conference ranked in the top 10. Defending Big Ten champion Michigan was picked fifth and received one first-place vote. Florida State, which Nebraska will face twice in its opening weekend, came in at No. 15 in the National Fastpitch Coaches Association poll. Other 2014 Husker opponents appearing in the poll include: No. 1 Tennessee, No. 2 Oklahoma, No. 3 Washington, No. 7 Arizona State, No. 11 Texas A&M and No. 16 UCLA. Nebraska will also face Arizona, Houston and Wisconsin, three teams that received votes in the preseason poll.
Nebraska is coming off a 45-16 season a year ago, in which the Huskers advanced to an NCAA Super Regional for the first time in school history and defeated No. 3 Oregon to earn the program’s seventh trip to the Women’s College World Series. NU returns seven starters, including its entire pitching staff, which ranked 12th nationally in wins and 15th in ERA last season. All-America twins Tatum and Taylor Edwards are back for their senior years, as Nebraska is one of only seven teams nationally with multiple All-Americans on its 2014 roster.
The Huskers open their season on Friday, Feb. 7 against UTEP and 15th-ranked Florida State at the Hotel Encanto Invitational on the campus of New Mexico State University in Las Cruces, N.M.