Missouri was picked ninth in the 2017 SEC Softball Preseason Coaches’ Poll, which the conference released Wednesday.
The Tigers, who have reached the NCAA tournament 10 consecutive seasons and won regional titles in eight of the last nine years, finished sixth in the Southeastern Conference last spring.
Mizzou’s offseason was marred by a lengthy investigation into coach Ehren Earleywine, who ultimately was retained in August, and a series of transfers, including the departures of ace pitchers Paige Lowary (Oklahoma) and Tori Finucane (Minnesota).
Two-time reigning SEC champion Florida was picked as the preseason favorite by the conference’s 13 coaches. Vanderbilt does not field a softball team.
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The Gators received nine first-place votes, while Auburn, which was picked to finish second, received two.
LSU, which tied with Alabama for third in the preseason poll, and Texas A&M, which is sixth in the poll, also received first-place votes.
Tennessee was chosen fifth, while Georgia and Kentucky also were picked to finish ahead of Missouri.
2017 SEC SOFTBALL PRESEASON COACHES’ POLL
Rank/Team (First-place votes) Points
1. Florida (9) 141
2. Auburn (2) 126
3. (tie) Alabama 118
3. (tie) LSU (1) 118
5. Tennessee 98
6. Texas A&M (1) 83
7. Georgia 78
8. Kentucky 75
9. Missouri 53
10. Mississippi 45
11. South Carolina 38
12. Mississippi State 28
13. Arkansas 13
Daniel Lewis wins MAC weekly honor
Missouri sophomore 165-pounder Daniel Lewis, a Blue Springs graduate, was announced Wednesday as the Mid-American Conference wrestler of the week.
Lewis, the reigning MAC freshman of the year, earned three convincing wins — major decisions against Buffalo and Eastern Michigan and a first-period technical fall against Cornell — in dual action for the Tigers last week.
After receiving All-America honors with a fourth-place finish at the NCAA Championships last spring, Lewis is 17-2 and ranked fifth nationally by Flo Wrestling.
Mitchell Smith set for surgery next week
Missouri freshman forward Mitchell Smith will undergo surgery to repair a torn ACL in his left knee Jan. 26, coach Kim Anderson announced.
Smith suffered the injury in the closing seconds of the first half against LSU on Jan. 4 during MU’s conference opener at Mizzou Arena.
“He’s done a great job in rehab so far,” Anderson said during his weekly press conference. “He’s actually been lifting weights and I think he’s actually broken 210 pounds. He was at 211 yesterday, so we obviously encourage him to use this opportunity to try to gain weight as well as keep his upper-body strength or even get better as much he can do.”
Smith, a native of Van Buren, Ark., made the trip to Fayetteville for Saturday’s game against the Razorbacks at Bud Walton Arena.
He averaged 2.4 points and 1.7 rebounds in 7.5 minutes in 11 games this season before the injury.