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COLUMBUS, Ohio – The Ohio State softball team will begin the 2011 season at No. 22 in the USA Today/NFCA Division I Top 25 Preseason Poll, released Tuesday. Last season, the Buckeyes, which return five starters and 11 letterwinners, spent 13-consecutive weeks in the national rankings.

In 2010, the Scarlet and Gray debuted at No. 14 Feb. 12 and continued to stay in the Top 25 for the entire regular season. The Buckeyes finished with a 39-14 overall record after advancing to their fourth NCAA regional appearance in the last five seasons.

Ohio State also has earned a preseason ranking tied for 24th with Illinois from the ESPN.com/USA Softball Collegiate Top 25 preseason poll.

In 51 scheduled games, the Buckeyes will play seven games vs. teams ranked in the USA Today/NFCA Top 25, including reigning NCAA champion UCLA. Other Top 25 teams that Ohio State will face include, No. 11 Michigan, No. 16 BYU, No. 21 Texas A&M and No. 24 Illinois. Other teams receiving votes on the Buckeyes’ schedule are Florida International, Kentucky, Louisville, Nebraska, San Diego State and Northwestern.

The Cathedral City Classic will highlight the schedule during tournament play when Ohio State heads to California. Feb. 25-27 to face three teams ranked in the preseason Top 25. The Buckeyes open the classic against No. 21/19 Texas A&M at 1 p.m. Feb. 25 followed by No. 16/20 BYU at 1 p.m. Feb. 26. The Scarlet and Gray will close out the tournament vs. No. 1/2 UCLA at 2 p.m. Feb. 27. The Bruins, who return seven starters from 2010, received 27 of the 30 first place votes in the preseason poll. Last year, the Buckeyes defeated shutout UCLA, 7-0, Feb. 28 at the Cathedral City Classic.

Two other Big Ten teams rank in the Top 25, including No. 11/8 Michigan and No. 24/t-24 Illinois. The Buckeyes will host the Fighting Illini April 9-10 at Buckeye Field in their third Big Ten series of the regular season, while traveling to Ann Arbor May 4 for their last doubleheader of 2011.

The team opens the season with five games at the Florida International University Combat Classic Feb. 11-13 in Miami, Fla.

2011 USA Today/NFCA Division I Top 25 Preseason Poll
*bolded teams 2011 opponents

Rank

Team

Record

Totals

Last Poll

1.

UCLA (27)

50-11

738

1

2.

Arizona (3)

52-14

715

2

3.

Georgia

50-13

669

3

4.

Tennessee

49-15

645

4

5.

Florida

49-10

607

6

6.

Alabama

52-11

588

9

7.

Missouri

51-13

564

8

8.

Hawaii

50-15

500

7

9.

Oklahoma

47-12

488

11

10.

Washington

50-9

475

5

11.

Michigan

49-8

445

10

12.

California

44-19

413

13

13.

Arizona State

44-17

403

12

14.

Oregon

36-21

387

14

15.

Texas

43-15

286

18

16.

BYU

46-13

269

15

17.

Louisiana-Lafayette

45-18

248

16

18.

Georgia Tech

51-11

231

17

19.

LSU

45-16

219

19

20.

Stanford

37-19

209

21

21.

Texas A&M

44-16

170

20

22.

Ohio State

39-14

100

22

23.

Oklahoma State

44-16

83

23

24.

Illinois

45-18

69

25

25.

North Carolina

42-20

51

24

Others Receiving Votes: Fresno St. 31, Hofstra 29, Florida St. 22, Fordham 13, DePaul 12, Nebraska 9, Lipscomb 8, Radford 7, Florida International 7, Kentucky 7, Louisville 6, Notre Dame 6, Texas Tech 4, East Carolina 4, Massachusetts 3, Auburn 3, San Diego St. 1, Long Island 1, Illinois St. 1, Northwestern 1.

2011 ESPN.com/USA Softball Collegiate Top 25 Preseason Poll
*bolded teams 2011 opponents

Rank

Team

2010 Record

Points

Final 2010 Ranking

1.

Arizona (9)

52-13

488

2

2.

UCLA (10)

50-11

462

1

3.

Alabama (1)

52-11

420

8

4.

Georgia

50-13

405

4

5.

Florida

49-10

389

6

6.

Oklahoma

47-12

382

10

7.

Tennessee

49-15

367

3

8.

Michigan

49-8

353

11

9.

Missouri

51-13

340

9

10.

Arizona State

44-17

309

13

11.

Washington

50-9

299

5

12.

California

44-19

266

12

13.

Hawaii

50-16

252

7

14.

Oregon

36-20

229

14

15.

Texas

43-15

217

19

16.

LSU

44-16

208

18

17.

Georgia Tech

51-11

179

16

18.

Stanford

37-19

165

T24

19.

Texas A &M

44-16

121

22

20.

BYU

46-13

96

15

21.

Louisiana-Lafayette

45-18

80

17

22.

Oklahoma State

44-16

71

23

23.

Florida State

44-18

61

RV

T24.

Illinois

45-8

56

21

T24.

Ohio State

39-14

56

T24

Others receiving votes:  Fordham (41); San Diego State (30); UMASS (29); Notre Dame (22); North Carolina (13); Northwestern (11); Oregon State (11); DePaul (10); Fresno State (9); Hofstra (9); Kentucky (8); Louisville (8); Lipscomb (7); Radford (7); FIU (5); Texas Tech (4); East Carolina (2); Syracuse (2); and Maryland (1).