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Arkansas softball opens at No. 12 in the ESPN/USA preseason poll

For the sixth consecutive year under Head Coach Courtney Deifel, the Arkansas softball team will begin the season ranked in the ESPN.com/USA Softball Top 25 Preseason Poll, which was released Tuesday.

The Razorbacks stack up at No. 12 in the most recent poll, which includes 10 teams from the SEC – most of any conference. It also marks the third straight year that Arkansas begins ranked in the top 15, coming in at No. 6 last season and No. 9 in 2022.

Now in her eighth season at the helm, Deifel is already the program’s winningest coach with 278 victories. She led the program to its first SEC regular-season championship in 2021, then won the regular season and the conference tournament in 2022. Arkansas has advanced to the past six NCAA Tournament, which includes four national seeds.

The Razorbacks return a core group of experienced players to the roster, while adding a stellar freshman class and four key transfers – former Auburn first-baseman Bri Ellis and former Iowa outfielder Nia Carter, as well as a pair of pitchers, Reis Beuerlieim from Mississippi State and Morgan Linestock from Southern Mississippi.

Last week, Softball America had the Razorbacks ranked No. 8 in their preseason poll, while D1Softball had them ranked No. 18.

Arkansas will open the 2024 slate with a trip to Boca Raton, Fla., for the Paradise Classic, facing Marshall in the opener. The Hogs will then open their home schedule on Feb. 22, hosting Illinois State.

Story originally appeared on Razorbacks Wire