SEC Softball Coaches Pick Alabama Third

Once upon a time, not too long ago, it was the goal of the very best Southeastern Conference softball teams to get a win against a ranked team from the West Coast. It took awhile for that break-through moment. In a decade or so, the SEC has become as strong as any in the nation, and stronger than most.

Alabama won the national championship in 2012 and the MVP of the College World Series that year, Jackie Traina, has just reached her senior season for Coach Patrick Murphy's Crimson Tide. And where does Alabama rank in the minds of SEC coaches?

Alabama was chosen to finish third in the SEC by a vote of the league's 13 head coaches in the annual preseason poll. Defending SEC champion Florida is the preseason favorite, followed by 2013 national runner-up Tennessee.

The Gators earned 10 out of a possible 13 first-place votes after earning a national-best 58 wins in 2013 and winning their fourth SEC title. The Lady Vols, chosen No. 1 in the preseason NFCA/USA Today poll, earned two first-place votes. The Crimson Tide got the final first-place vote.

The top eight programs in the SEC poll are all ranked in the preseason NFCA/USA Today Top 25. Additionally, Arkansas and Auburn are among those "also receiving votes". Points for the SEC poll were awarded on a 1-2-3-4-5-6-7-8-9-10-11-12 basis and coaches were not allowed to vote for their own team.

The Tide opens its season in less than two weeks at the Troy Subway Invitational. Alabama will play five games over three days, beginning on Friday, Feb. 7, against Kennesaw State at 2:30 p.m. CST.

The SEC Coaches Poll had it:

1. Florida, 2. Tennesssee, 3. Alabama, 4. Georgia, 5. Kentucky, 6. Missouri, 7. Texas A&M, 8. LSU, 9. Arkansas, 10. Auburn, 11. South Carolina, 12. Mississippi State, 13. Ole Miss. Vanderbilt does not field a softball team.

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