Jan. 20, 2009
EVANSTON, Ill. -- Northwestern will begin the 2009 season as the nation's No. 9 ranked team following the release today (Jan. 20) of the preseason USA Today/NFCA coaches poll. In the ESPN.com/USA Softball poll released Jan. 27, the Wildcats came in at No. 11.
The Wildcats received 511 points, 13 ahead of No. 10 Oklahoma and 16 behind No. 8 Michigan. Florida will open the year as the preseason No. 1. NU is ranked in the top 10 in the NFCA poll to start the year for the third-straight season after earning the No. 4 spot in 2007 and the No. 6 position in 2008.
The Wildcats have been ranked in 58-consecutive NFCA polls dating back to the fourth week of 2005. Northwestern concluded last season in the No. 12 spot after falling to eventual national champion Arizona State in the Super Regional round of the NCAA Tournament. The Sun Devils are ranked No. 2 entering 2009.
With its preseason ranking, Northwestern re-enters the top-10 for the first time since falling to No. 12 on March 11, 2008. Prior to that, the Wildcats spent 22-straight weeks in the top-10.
In the ESPN.com/USA Softball preseason rankings, the Wildcats came in at No. 11. Northwestern is 14 points behind No. 10 Texas A&M and 43 points ahead of No. 12 Fresno State.
The Wildcats' 2009 slate features 24 of their 50 currently scheduled games against opponents ranked or receiving votes in the preseason NFCA poll. NU will play eight contests against teams in the top-10 and 14 overall versus members of the top-25.
During head coach Kate Drohan's seven-year tenure, NU has played 115 contests against opponents ranked in the top-25 at the time of those games, winning 59 times (.513). The Wildcats' best season against ranked foes under Drohan came in 2007 when Northwestern went 17-7.
The Wildcats begin the year February 6-8 at the Kajikawa Classic in Tempe, Ariz., where they will face a pair of ranked opponents in No. 7 Arizona and No. 23 Nevada. Northwestern opens its home schedule at 1 p.m. Saturday, March 21, against No. 8 Michigan. The Wildcats and Wolverines shared the Big Ten title a year ago before NU won the Big Ten Tournament crown.
Follow these links to view the complete preseason USA Today/NFCA coaches poll
and ESPN.com/i>/USA Softball poll