Lady Vols move into second in Top 25 Poll
OKLAHOMA CITY — The Tennessee Lady Vols (38-6, 12-3 SEC) supplanted Arizona State (38-5, 9-3 Pac-12) for the No. 2 overall spot in this week’s ESPN.com/USA Softball Collegiate Top 25 poll following a 4-0 week that included a sweep of conference foe Auburn. The Sun Devils had held the second position for five consecutive polls leading up to this week. Despite the shift in the top three, both teams continue to chase the No. 1 Oklahoma Sooners (37-2, 6-0 Big 12) who picked up three more wins over the weekend in a series sweep at Texas Tech.
The Sooners traveled to Lubbock, Texas on Friday for their second conference series of the year. In game one, the defending USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year Keilani Ricketts (San Jose, Calif.) shut down the Red Raiders picking up her fourth career no-hitter and third of the season in a 9-0 Oklahoma win. In game two, the Sooners again shutout Texas Tech for a 6-0 win. On Sunday, Oklahoma completed the series sweep with Ricketts picking up her second win of the weekend, this time by a final of 13-7. For their efforts, Oklahoma swept all 20 first-place votes, their second-consecutive sweep and third of the season.
Tennessee began the week with a 12-3 (5 inning) win over in-state opponent Tennessee Tech. The Lady Vols, riding a 12-game winning streak, then welcomed Auburn to Knoxville for a three game series. In game one, the Lady Vols relied on the sister pitching duo of Ellen and Ivy Renfroe (Jackson, Tenn.) to get the 5-3 win. Tennessee extended its winning streak to 14 by defeating Auburn 6-1 on Saturday and 6-0 on Sunday for the series sweep.
Arizona State finished the week with a 2-1 record that included 7-1 and 2-1 wins over then-No. 13 Washington but a 3-1 loss on Friday was enough to drop the Sun Devils one spot in this week’s poll.
Florida (41-5, 14-4 SEC) remains No. 4 this week. The Gators went 3-1 with a 9-1 win over now-No. 24 South Florida (35-12, 13-1 Big East) early in the week and a pair of wins over then-No. 19 Kentucky (31-12, 9-6 SEC) in SEC play. The Wildcats took one game from Florida on Saturday to avoid the sweep.
Oregon (36-6, 13-2 Pac 12) cracks the Top 5 for the first time this season after coming in at No. 6 in last week’s poll. The Ducks swept then-No. 22 Arizona (27-17, 4-8 Pac-12) over the weekend to improve their conference record to 13-2. Oregon took game one of the series 5-3 and followed it with back-to-back run-rules to secure the sweep.
Rounding out the Top 10: No. 6 Alabama (37-6, 10-5 SEC) played just two games over the week, but came out ahead in both defeating Mississippi Valley State 8-5 on Tuesday and UAB 11-0 the following day; No. 7 Texas (38-4, 8-0 Big 12) held their spot on the poll following a conference sweep of Iowa State; No. 8 Louisville (37-6, 10-1 Big East) advanced two spots this week following five wins in which they outscored opponents 48-11; No. 9 Michigan (38-7, 12-0 Big 10) moved into the Top 10 for the first time since Week 14 of the 2011 season. The Wolverines went 4-0 on the week and swept Michigan State in a three-game series; No. 10 California (32-8, 7-5 Pac-12) dropped two spots following a 2-2 week that included a pair of losses to then-No. 21 UCLA (28-14, 5-10 Pac-12).
Rejoining the Top 25 this week is No. 24 South Florida (35-12, 13-1 Big East), who last appeared in the Top 25 in week 2 of this season. Each receiving 24 points in this week’s poll, North Carolina (33-15, 10-5 ACC) and Arizona (27-17, 4-8 Pac-12) round out the poll tied at No. 25.
The ESPN.com/USA Softball Collegiate Top 25 Poll is voted on by coaching representatives from 11 Division I Conferences in the 15 ASA/USA Softball Regions as well as members of National and Local media who consistently cover Division I Softball across the country.