Feb. 19, 2013
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. – The Alabama softball team (10-0) stayed the same in the polls this week as the Tide stayed atop the USA Today/NFCA Poll and remained No. 2 in the ESPN.com/USA Softball Top 25, both organizations announced Tuesday.
Unbeaten Alabama (10-0) continues its reign at the top of the USA Today/NFCA Division I softball rankings for a second consecutive week during the regular season after registering a 5-0 mark at the Florida Gulf Coast/LaQuinta Inn & Suites Tournament in Fort Myers, Fla.
The Crimson Tide reaped 20 of 31 possible first-place votes, but again saw No. 2 Oklahoma (10-0) trim into its advantage, cutting this week’s deficit from nine to just seven points after receiving 11 first-place nods. The Sooners posted a perfect 5-0 mark at the Campbell Cartier Classic in San Diego, Calif., including victories over ranked foes then-No. 24 Kentucky (11-0, 5 inn.) and then-No. 18 Washington (2-0).
The remainder of the top five remained unchanged from the previous poll as Arizona State (12-0, unbeaten at the Littlewood Classic in Tempe, Ariz.), Tennessee (10-0, unbeaten at the USF Four-Team Tournament in Tampa, Fla.) and Florida (12-0, unbeaten at the Florida Lipton Invitational in Gainesville, Fla.) maintain positions No. 3 through No. 5, respectively.
Texas (11-0) held steady in the sixth spot after a strong weekend at the Hilton Houston Plaza Invitational in Houston, Texas, while Missouri (5-0, unbeaten at the UCSB Tournament in Santa Barbara, Calif.) and California (7-2, unbeaten at the Easton Desert Classic in Las Vegas, Nev.) each climbed one spot to seventh and eighth, respectively. Oregon suffered a 6-5 defeat to then-No. 20 Hawai’i at the Easton Desert Classic and, as a result, dropped two spots from seventh to ninth in this week’s poll. Texas A&M parlayed an undefeated weekend at its home-hosted Aggie Classic into a one position jump from No. 11 to No. 10 in the latest ratings.
The USA Today/NFCA Division I Top 25 Poll is voted on by 31 NCAA Division I head coaches, one representing each conference. Current 2013 records are shown while first-place votes are in parentheses.
For the second-consecutive week, the Oklahoma Sooners (10-0) earned the coveted No. 1 spot in the ESPN.com/USA Softball Collegiate Top 25 Poll, announced today by the Amateur Softball Association (ASA) of America and USA Softball. The Sooners secured the top spot following an impressive road campaign at the Campbell/Cartier Classic in San Diego, Calif. in which the they collected four shut-out victories. The Sooners garnered 16 No. 1 votes this week with Alabama (10-0) receiving four first-place votes.
In San Diego, the Sooners started the weekend with a 7-0 win over UC Riverside, followed by a 4-0 victory over San Diego State. The Sooners extended their shutout streak on Saturday with an 11-0, five-inning run-rule win against now-No. 20 Kentucky in which Jessica Shults (Valencia, Calif.), a member of the 2013 USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year Watchlist, drove in five runs, including a grand slam, and collected her 56th career home run. With the grand slam, Shults tied the Big 12 and Oklahoma career home run record. Other weekend action for the Sooners includes: a 2-0 win against then-No. T16 Washington (6-5) and a 7-5 come from behind nine-inning win against Notre Dame. The Sooners are off to their best start since 2007, when they had a 23-game winning streak.
The No. 2 Crimson Tide claimed their 11th straight title at the FGCU/LaQuinta Inn and Suites Tournament in Fort Myers, Fla. following their perfect 5-0 performance. Behind the bat of junior Kaila Hunt (Evans, Ga.), another contender on the Top 50 Watch List for the USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year, the Tide defeated Appalachian State 9-3, Florida Gulf Coast University 2-1, Wichita State 2-0, Georgia Southern 2-1 (nine innings) and Southern Illinois 10-1 (five innings). Hunt led the powerful Alabama offense, going 7-for-13 (.538) with four doubles, two home runs, six RBI and six runs scored.
No. 3 Arizona State (12-0) clinched five wins at home this weekend, collecting wins against: Northern Iowa 5-3, Michigan State 9-2, Illinois Chicago 15-0 (five innings), Illinois State 7-1 and Minnesota 8-0 (five innings). The Sun Devils offense dominated the field, producing seven home runs and two grand slams over the course of the weekend. The Sun Devils have put up multiple home runs in nine games thus far and are currently on a four-game multiple homer streak. Up next for the Sun Devils is a four-game series against Portland State.
No. 4 Tennessee (10-0) held their spot on the poll following a flawless performance at the USF Four Team Tournament in Tampa, Fla. The Lady Vols outscored their opponents 44-5 and closed out the weekend with five wins: North Carolina State 7-0 and 8-2, Coastal Carolina 8-0 (six innings) and 10-3 and then-No. 12 South Florida (6-3) 11-0. Florida (12-0) held steady at No. 5 after a perfect 7-0 outing during last week’s play. The Gators collected four run-rule victories before securing a 4-3 (eight inning) victory against Charleston Southern, their first extra-inning game of the season. No. 6 Texas (11-0), No. 7 Missouri (5-0) and No. 8 California (7-2) kept their respective slots on the Top 25, while No. 9 Texas A&M (10-0) moved up one spot following a 5-0 weekend as the host of the Aggie Classic in College Station, Texas. No. 10 LSU (10-1) cracked the Top 10 for the first time this season. The Tigers collected six wins over the week behind the arm of Rachele Fico (Oxford, Conn.), another USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year Watchlist member. Fico nabbed four wins in the circle and racked up 21 strikeouts over 19.2 innings of work.
Oregon (8-3) dropped out of the Top 10 to No. 11 after suffering a 6-5 loss against then-No. 23 Hawaii (9-2). Despite the loss, the Ducks produced a winning record at the Easton Desert Classic in Las Vegas, Nev., including victories against Long Beach State 10-1, Utah Valley 9-1, Louisiana-Monroe 4-0 and Cal State Fullerton 6-0.
Dropping out of the Top 25 are last week’s No. 24 Georgia Tech (8-2) and No. 25 Hofstra (2-3). New to the poll is No. 24 Tulsa (7-3) and No. 25 Baylor (10-2).
This week, many teams take to the road to participate in the Mary Nutter Collegiate Classic in Palm Springs, Calif.. Over 10 teams participating are among the Top 25, and the schedule is full of strong match-ups between ranked teams. Oklahoma, No. 16 Georgia (6-2) and No. 23 Florida State (7-2) will face three ranked opponents apiece, while No. 19 Arizona (8-2), No. 13 UCLA (8-1), LSU, No. 22 Washington (6-5) and No. 17 Stanford (10-2) will face two ranked squads each.