Sooners sweep final regular seasonTop 25 poll
OKLAHOMA CITY — Following a 3-0 weekend sweep of in-state rival Oklahoma State, the Oklahoma Sooners (47-4, 15-2 Big 12) secured the No. 1 seed in the recently announced NCAA Division I Softball Championship bracket and also sit atop the ESPN.com/USA Softball Collegiate Top 25 poll for the 14th consecutive week. The Sooners, who swept the first-place votes, climbed one spot in Week 1’s poll from a preseason No. 2 ranking and have held their position since. Following a 3-0 championship performance in the Southeastern Conference (SEC) Tournament last week, the Florida Gators (52-7, 18-6 SEC) moved into the No. 2 spot, their highest ranking of the season.
Oklahoma needed two wins over unranked Oklahoma State to secure its sixth regular season Big 12 championship. On Friday, the Sooners trailed early but took advantage of a six-run third inning that included a grand slam from USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year Finalist Keilani Ricketts (San Jose, Calif.). Oklahoma went on to win the series opener 10-1 (five innings), which was played at the ASA Hall of Fame Stadium (you can watch the game on-demand by visiting USASoftball.com). On day two, it was Oklahoma who jumped on the board early with a run in the bottom of the first. Michelle Gascoigne (Benicia, Calif.), also a Finalist for USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year, kept the Oklahoma State bats quiet as the Sooners cruised to a 4-0 win, securing their conference title. On Sunday, Oklahoma made it a clean sweep with a 5-0 win over the Cowgirls.
After clinching their fourth regular-season SEC Championship in school history last week, the No. 2 Florida Gators used wins over then-No. 10 Alabama (42-13, 13-11 SEC), then-No. 23 Georgia (38-19, 14-9 SEC) and then-No. 7 Missouri (35-11, 15-8 SEC) to secure their third SEC Tournament Title this week. The Gators defeated Alabama 8-4 on Thursday and Georgia 9-5 on Saturday afternoon to set up a championship game with Missouri. Florida trailed 2-0 following the top of the second but exploded offensively with 10 runs in the next five innings on their way to a 10-4 win.
Oregon (46-9, 19-5 Pac-12) fell one spot to No. 3 this week after dropping two games over the weekend to this week’s No. 4, Arizona State (45-10, 16-8 Pac-12). The Ducks dropped games one and two of the Pac-12 series 3-2 and 5-3 but bounced back in game three to get the 4-2 win and avoid a sweep. With the series win, Arizona State climbed one spot from their No. 5 ranking last week.
No. 5 Tennessee (44-10, 16-6 SEC) fell one spot after splitting two games in the SEC Tournament. The Lady Vols defeated South Carolina 5-0 on Thursday but were eliminated from the tournament following a 3-0 loss to Missouri in the next round.
Rounding out the Top 10: No. 6 Missouri improved one spot with their SEC Tournament run that included wins over then-No. T21 Arkansas (34-18, 12-10 SEC) and then-No. 4 Tennessee; No. 7 Texas (44-8, 14-4 Big 12) fell one position despite a 2-1 (nine inning) win over then-No. T16 Baylor (39-15, 9-8 Big 12) in their lone game of the week; Michigan (45-10, 20-2 Big 10) held solid at No. 8 following a 1-1 performance in the Big 10 Tournament; No. 9 Washington (38-15, 16-8 Pac-12) cracked the Top 10 for the first time this season following a 2-1 series with then-No. 20 California (36-17, 10-14 Pac-12); tied at No. 10 this week are LSU (40-14, 15-8 SEC) who lost their only game in the SEC Tournament (7-0 to then-23 Georgia) and Alabama who split two games in the same tourmament.
Rejoining the Top 25 this week after a one-week hiatus is No. 25 South Florida (43-14, 18-3 Big East) while Tulsa (42-14-1, 19-5 Conference USA) dropped out.
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.