Tide Softball Picked Best In SEC West

A poll of the Southeastern Conference coaches revealed the Alabama Crimson Tide were tabbed to defend its SEC Western Division crown, as announced by the conference office Tuesday. Alabama also received a vote to win the conference crown. Florida earned the most first place votes and was predicted to win the conference title.

"We are all looking forward to another exciting season of SEC softball," Alabama Softball Coach Patrick Murphy said. "Last year saw the back-and-forth battle between Florida and us from start to finish. This year looks to be just as competitive from top to bottom. With three of your 11 coaches already in the NFCA softball hall of fame, you know there is great coaching in this young league. It's going to be fun to watch what happens in year 13 of SEC softball."

In the Western Division, the Crimson Tide of Alabama was voted to claim the title with 10 points, in addition to receiving one vote for the overall SEC Championship. Alabama is coming off its best season in school history as well, after finishing 58-8 overall and advancing to the semifinal round of the Women's College World Series.

The defending Western Division champions posted their best SEC record in school history as they went 25-3. The LSU Tigers were picked to finish second in the division with 21 points, followed by the Mississippi State Bulldogs with 30 points. Predicted to finish fourth in the West are the Auburn Tigers with 35 points. Rounding out the division, the Arkansas Razorbacks are picked fifth with 49 points and the Ole Miss Rebels sixth with 50 points.

The Gators are coming off an NCAA single-season record, 70 wins, their second SEC title and first SEC tournament championship in school history. Florida claimed the top spot in the Eastern Division with 10 points, followed by the Tennessee Lady Vols with 19 points. The Georgia Bulldogs landed the No. 3 spot in the East with 30 points while South Carolina was picked fourth with 36 points, and Kentucky was fifth with 45 points.

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 softball action Feb. 5-8. The 2009 SEC Softball Tournament will be held May 7-9 at Sherri Parker Lee Softball Stadium in Knoxville, Tenn.

Conference Champion: Florida (10), Alabama (1)

Eastern Division:

1. Florida (10 points)

2. Tennessee (19 points)

3. Georgia (30 points)

4. South Carolina (36 points)

5. Kentucky (45 points)

Western Division:

1. Alabama (10 points)

2. LSU (21 points)

3. Mississippi State (30 points)

4. Auburn (35 points)

5. Arkansas (49 points)

6. Ole Miss (50 points)

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