Oklahoma sweeps final regular-season ESPN.com/USA Softball Top 25 poll
OKLAHOMA CITY -- Following a 3-0 weekend sweep of in-state rival Oklahoma State, Oklahoma (47-4, 15-2 Big 12) secured the No. 1 seed in the recently announced NCAA Division I Softball Championship bracket and also sits 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 tournament last week, the Florida Gators (52-7, 18-6 SEC) moved into the No. 2 spot, their highest ranking of the season.
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Oklahoma needed two wins against 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 Keilani Ricketts. Oklahoma went on to win the series opener 10-1 (five innings), which was played at the ASA Hall of Fame Stadium. On day two, it was Oklahoma who jumped on the board early with a run in the bottom of the first. Michelle Gascoigne 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 against the Cowgirls.
After clinching their fourth regular-season SEC championship in school history last week, the No. 2 Florida Gators used wins against 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) is No. 3 this week after dropping two games during 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 against 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), which lost its only game in the SEC tournament (7-0 to then-23 Georgia), and Alabama, which 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.