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OU No. 2 In ESPN.com/USA Softball Preseason Poll

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NORMAN, Oklahoma -

The Oklahoma softball team has been ranked No. 2 in the ESPN.com/USA Softball Collegiate Top 25. Last week the team was also ranked No. 2 in the USA Today/NFCA Preseason Poll.

The Sooners, who were the national runner-ups a year ago, picked up seven out of 20 first-place votes and are just four points behind defending national champion Alabama for the No. 1 spot.

The second-place start marks the highest for the Sooners since the inception of the USA Softball Poll in 2003. Previously, OU's highest preseason ranking was No. 4 in both 2004 and 2005.

Oklahoma was one of three ranked Big 12 teams, joining No. 9 Texas and No. 22 Baylor. In addition, Texas Tech and Oklahoma State both received votes.

Sixteen of OU's upcoming opponents were ranked in the poll, highlighted by top-10 foes Oregon (6) and Georgia (8). Louisiana-Lafayette (11), Arizona (14), Washington (16), Louisville (18), Stanford (20) and Florida State (24) also found themselves in the Top 25, while Kentucky, Northwestern, Notre Dame and Oregon State each received votes.

Oklahoma returns 13 letterwinners from the 2012 squad, including USA Softball Player of the Year and All-American senior Keilani Ricketts. Fellow senior Jessica Shults and sophomore Lauren Chamberlain also return from All-American seasons.

In addition, the Sooners boast an incoming freshman class with seven players, all of which hail from the state of Oklahoma, and sophomore transfer Shelby Pendley, who was a first-team All-Pac 12 honoree last season at Arizona.

The 2013 season begins on Friday, Feb. 8, against No. 20 Stanford at the Kajikawa Classic in Phoenix, Ariz.

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