FLORENCE, SC - The Francis Marion University women's softball team is ranked fifth in the pre-season National Fastpitch Coaches Association (NFCA) Division II Top 25 poll, the same spot where the Patriots ended the 2008 season
The No. 5 position is the highest ranking for the Patriot program since the school moved to NCAA affiliation in 1992.
In 2008, Francis Marion enjoyed its most successful season in 20 years posting a 39-16 record, the third-highest win total in team history. The Patriots earned their first-ever bid to the NCAA Division II national tournament, won the South Atlantic Regional, and advanced to the Division II national finals (Elite Eight) in Houston, Texas.
Francis Marion returns 14 letterwinners, including six position starters, from last year’s squad. The Patriots open their season Feb. 7-8 at the early Bird Tournament in Aiken. FMU will face 12th-ranked Kutztown University (10 a.m.), Erskine College (2 p.m.), and Limestone College (4 p.m.) on the opening day.
Altogether, four squads that appear on FMU’s upcoming 2009 schedule are listed in the pre-season poll. Lock Haven University (49-8) tops the poll, while defending national champion Humboldt State University (57-18) is ranked second.
The Patriot program’s highest national ranking occurred in 1988 when Francis Marion was ranked No. 1 in the pre-season NAIA poll.