The No. 5 ranking is the highest the Tigers, the defending Big 12 champions, have ever received in the preseason poll.
After three straight Women’s College World Series appearances, Earleywine was given a seven-year contract extension.
The U.S. will face 2008 Olympic gold medalist Japan on Monday night in a familiar matchup of the sport's two powerhouses.
The Americans bounced back from a loss to Canada earlier in the day to secure a crucial win for their hopes of pursuing a fifth-straight World Cup title.
The United State scored three unearned runs in the bottom of the sixth to beat Australia 5-2 Friday night at the World Cup of Softball.
The Tigers' Chelsea Thomas threw two scoreless innings to earn the save, and former teammate Rhea Taylor had a two-run triple in Team USA's 7-2 victory over the Czech Republic.
Chelsea Thomas, Rhea Taylor and the rest of Team USA will go up against five other national teams in a round-robin format, beginning at 7 p.m. July 21 .
Abby Vock, a three-year Missouri softball team captain, is one of 10 Division I nominees. The winner will be announced in October.
Former Missouri softball outfielder Rhea Taylor and Missouri softball pitcher Chelsea Thomas are teammates once again after both were selected to the USA Softball women’s national team last week. The team will take part in three international tournaments.
It is the highest year-end ranking ever for Missouri softball. The previous high for the program was No. 8 in both 2009 and 2010.
Thomas was named to the 2011 Women's College World Series All-Tournament Team and nominated for the United State Sports Academy's May Athlete of the Month.
The Missouri sophomore pitcher is a finalist for Honda Softball Sports Award.
The only run in Saturday's late WCWS game didn't come until the bottom of the 13th, when with two outs, Baylor's Holly Holl sent an 0-2 pitch from Missouri ace Chelsea Thomas over the outfield wall.
The end of the Tigers' run in the Women's College World Series brought the careers of nine seniors to a close. Since the departing seniors' arrival, Missouri has captured two Big 12 Championships and has made three appearances in the WCWS.
Defensive mistakes by No. 9 Oklahoma opened the door for Missouri. The Tigers will meet Baylor at 8:30 tonight.
Thursday’s loss to No. 4 Florida marked the Tigers' fifth consecutive loss at the Women’s College World Series. They play Oklahoma at 1:30 p.m on Saturday.
Chelsea Thomas boasted a record of 31-6 coming into the Women's College World Series, and her 0.83 ERA led the nation. But Thursday, Thomas allowed six runs on eight hits in a 6-2 loss to Florida.
The Missouri softball team lost 6-2 to Florida in the opening round of the Women's College World Series on Thursday night in Oklahoma City.
PHOTO GALLERY: Missouri fans warm up with tailgate parties before Women's College World Series begins
Tigers face the Gators in the opening game of the Women's College World Series on Thursday in Oklahoma City on Thursday.
Strong pitching and defense featured in first three opening round games of Women's College World Series.