Florida leads the pack in the ESPN.com/USA Softball Collegiate Top 25 Poll as season enters the home stretch
OKLAHOMA CITY — After securing its third-straight Southeastern Conference (SEC) regular-season championship, Florida (50-5) remains the No. 1 team in the country in the ESPN.com/USA Softball Collegiate Top 25 Poll USA Softball announced today. The Gators captured 12-of-20 first-place votes to maintain the top spot in the poll, while Oregon (44-6) and Minnesota (51-3) collected four first-place votes each.
The Gators started their week with a Top 5 matchup, traveling to then-No. 2 Florida State (48-6-1) for the Florida Sunshine Showdown. The matchup lived up to expectations as the top ranked teams squared off for 11 innings with the Gators coming up short in a 3-1 (11 inning) decision. The Gators would rebound in a three-game, non-conference series against North Texas and a solo contest against Florida A&M. The Florida pitching staff gave strong performances in the circle, allowing just one run to cross the plate through the four contests as they outscored their opponents 32-1. Florida will travel this week to Knoxville, Tenn. for the SEC Tournament, where the Gators enter as the No. 1 seed.
Jumping three spots to No. 2 this week is Oregon, who put on an impressive offensive performance against then-No. 2 Florida State. The Ducks came out strong, sweeping a doubleheader against the Seminoles by scores of 11-0 (five inning) and 3-1. Oregon would complete the series sweep in the finale in a closely-fought 2-1 (nine inning) decision. The Ducks enter the final week of Pac-12 Conference regular season play as they head to Stanford.
Also rising in the poll this week is No. 3 Minnesota, who completed their seventh Big Ten Conference sweep on the road against Penn State. Posting 11-1 (six inning), 14-1 (five inning) and 10-1 (five inning) wins over the Nittany Lions, Minnesota claimed the regular season Big Ten Conference title, their first since 1991. The Gophers will now head to Ann Arbor, Mich. for the Big Ten Tournament where they have earned the No. 1 seed.
Falling two spots to No 4. this week is Florida State, who posted a 1-3 record against Top 5 ranked opponents. Starting their week with a win over the top-ranked Gators, Florida State hit the road for a three-game series against Oregon where they suffered their first three-game series sweep since the 2011 season. The Seminoles will look to bounce back as the No. 1 seed in the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) Tournament. Held in Chapel Hill, N.C., this marks the fifth-consecutive top-seed ranking for the Seminoles, who will open the tournament against Virginia.
After dropping a Pac-12 series on the road against then-No. 12 UCLA (39-13), the Arizona Wildcats (48-7) fell two spots to No. 5 this week. Arizona suffered a two-hit, 8-0 (five inning) shutout at the hands of UCLA in the series opener before dropping a 6-0 decision to the Bruins in game two. The Wildcats closed out the regular season with a 7-2 win against UCLA to clinch the program’s 11th Pac-12 Conference Championship and first since the 2007 season. Arizona now awaits their fate in the NCAA tournament.
Rounding out the Top 10: No. 6 Oklahoma (47-8) captured their sixth-straight Big 12 Conference regular season championship as the Sooners swept Bedlam rival Oklahoma State; No. 7 Tennessee (44-9) posted a 2-1 record on the road against then-No. 6 Texas A&M (42-9); No. 8 Auburn (45-9) rose two spots this week after clinching their SEC series matchup on the road against then-No. 15 Alabama (40-15); Washington (40-11) fell one spot to No. 9 this week after suffering a loss to unranked Stanford; No. 10 UCLA rejoins the Top 10 after a strong showing against then-No. 3 Arizona.
New to the Top 25 this week is No. 23 South Carolina (32-22), who captured an SEC series win against then-No. 19 LSU (38-17) and T24 Ohio State (33-15), who picked up two wins over then-No. 22 Illinois (36-17). Dropping out of the Top 25 is last week’s No. 22 Illinois, who posted a 1-5 record on the week.
The ESPN.com/USA Softball Collegiate Top 25 Poll is voted on by coaching representatives of 10 Division I Conferences in the 10 USA Softball Regions as well as members of the National and Local media who consistently cover Division I Softball across the country.
About USA Softball
USA Softball is a 501(c)(3) not-for profit organization headquartered in Oklahoma City, Okla., and is designated as the National Governing Body (NGB) of Softball in the United States and a member of the United States Olympic Committee. One of the nation’s largest sports organizations, USA Softball sanctions competition in every state through a network of 70 local associations and has grown from a few hundred teams in the early days to over 150,000 teams today, representing a membership of more than 2 million. USA Softball is dedicated to providing people of all ages the opportunity to play the game they love at a variety of levels by offering recreational, league, tournament and competitive play for fast pitch, slow pitch and modified pitch. USA Softball annually conducts thousands of tournaments throughout the country including over 100 National Championships. The USA Softball umpire program is among the nation’s largest and are widely known as the best trained umpires in the game.
As the NGB for the sport of softball, USA Softball is responsible for training, equipping and promoting the six USA Softball National Teams that compete in events such as the Olympics, Pan American Games, World Championships and other international and domestic events. For more information on USA Softball, including its founding and history as the Amateur Softball Association of America (ASA), please visit, www.USASoftball.com.
About the NCAA Women’s College World Series
USA Softball Hall of Fame Stadium – OGE Energy Field serves as the home to the NCAA Women’s College World Series (WCWS). For the 27th year, the top eight college teams in the nation will head to Oklahoma City and compete for a national championship. Last year, over 78,000 fans attended the WCWS. Be there to Share The Experience with softball fans from across the country June 1-7 in Oklahoma City. Tickets for the 2017 NCAA WCWS are on sale now, click here to purchase your tickets and secure your championship experience!