The Missouri softball team was picked as the top team in the Big 12 coaches’ preseason poll for the first time in program history.  Mizzou won the program’s first regular season Big 12 Championship since 1997 and qualified for the Women’s College World Series for the third straight year.

Top returners include redshirt junior Chelsea Thomas, 2011 Big 12 Pitcher of the Year and one of three finalists for the USA Softball Player of the Year Award, as well as senior Ashley Fleming, an All-American.  Joining the Tigers this season are 10 freshmen in what is considered to be Ehren Earleywine’s best signing class as head coach of Mizzou.

The Tigers open their season just less than a month away against Ball State and Troy University at the Quality Inn Classic in Troy, Ala., on Feb. 17.

2012 BIG 12 SOFTBALL PRESEASON POLL

Rank Team (first-place votes) Points

1 Missouri (3) 59

2 Oklahoma (4) 56

3 Texas (1) 50

4 Baylor 45

5 Texas A&M 37

6 Oklahoma State 32

7 Texas Tech 22

8 Kansas 13

9 Iowa State 10