The Missouri softball team will start the 2011 season ranked No. 7 in the nation.
Five Big 12 softball teams are ranked in the top 25 of the USA Today/NFCA Division I poll, released Tuesday morning.
Of those five teams, Missouri is ranked two spots ahead of Oklahoma at No. 9, with Texas (No. 15), Texas A&M (No. 21) and Oklahoma State (No. 23) also ranked in the top 25.
The Tigers will attempt to earn their third consecutive trip to the Women's College World Series in 2011. Their schedule features eight opponents ranked in the preseason top 25.
The team only lost one pitcher from the starting rotation and one member of their starting lineup from the 2010 team that set a school record with 51 wins. Two-time All-American outfielder Rhea Taylor headlines the list of starters returning for the Tigers.
Defending champion UCLA opens the season with the No. 1 ranking.
The Tigers will begin their season at the San Diego Classic against Fresno State on Feb. 18.