The Northern Athletics Conference softball preseason coaches' poll was released and Alverno College was tabbed eighth of the 13 teams -- the program's highest-ever ranking in the coaches' poll.
The Inferno's previous highest predicted spot was ninth in the 2011 poll.
Alverno received 66 poll points, behind Concordia University Chicago and in front of Edgewood College. Aurora University received six of 13 first-place votes and was picked to win the league, while defending champion Benedictine University was tabbed second.
"The program is progressing and others are recognizing it," Alverno head coach Kristin Ortman said. "But we can't be complacent and need to continue to move up the standings."
Last year's team finished eighth in the standings and set the school-record marks for overall and conference wins with a 17-21 record, 10-14 in NAC play. The team was in contention for a spot in the conference tournament heading into the final weekend of play, but came up just short with a 2-2 split.
Alverno opens the 2013 season on Feb. 14, on a three-series trip to Texas. The Inferno's conference and home opener is March 27, versus Lakeland College.
2013 Northern Athletics Conference Preseason Coaches' Poll
1. Aurora (6), 161
2. Benedictine (7), 157
3. Concordia Wisconsin, 143
4. Marian, 120
5. Dominican, 116
6. Lakeland, 102
7. Concordia Chicago, 97
8. Alverno, 72
9. Edgewood, 66
10. Wisconsin Lutheran, 52
11. Rockford, 44
12. MSOE, 33
13. Maranatha, 20
first-place votes in parentheses
voted by the conference's head coaches
13-12-11-10-9-8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1 point scale used