Florida tightens grip on top spot in ESPN.com/USA Softball ranking
OKLAHOMA CITY -- Despite a rain-filled weekend as host of the Lipton Invitational, the Florida Gators (16-0) put together another undefeated performance to keep their spot atop the ESPN.com/USA Softball Collegiate Top 25 Poll, the Amateur Softball Association (ASA) of America and USA Softball announced today. Florida tallied 15 first-place votes en route to their third consecutive week atop the poll. Also securing first-place votes are this week's No. 2 Tennessee (13-0), who grabbed four votes, and No. 3 Arizona State (17-0), who earned the remaining vote.
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Tennessee reclaimed the No. 2 spot this week after capturing two wins against ranked opponents at the Mary Nutter Classic in Palm Springs, Calif. The Lady Vols opened the tournament with a 5-3 win against then-No. 12 Nebraska and followed with a 5-1 win against Oregon State. In their final day in Palm Springs, Tennessee edged past then-No. 11 Stanford 3-1 before capping off the weekend with a 5-4, come-from-behind win against Fresno State. Arizona State also rose in the ranks this week to No. 3 following a 6-0 performance at home last week. The Sun Devils began with an 8-0 (5 inning) shutout against Drake before opening play as hosts of the Diamond Devil Invitational. The Sun Devils strung together a 12-1 (5 inning) win against Seton Hall, a 3-0 shutout against Boston College, and an 11-1 (5 inning) win against Idaho State before finishing the weekend with a pair of wins against Drake (9-1, 5 inning) and Idaho State (13-4, 5 inning).
Michigan (12-2) shifted up one spot this week to No. 4 after going 5-0 at the FAU Kickoff Classic in Boca Raton, Fla. The Wolverines picked up wins against Kent State (7-1 and 1-0, 9 innings), Pittsburgh (9-0, 5 innings), then-No. 6 Kentucky (3-0) and Florida Atlantic (1-0). No. 5 UCLA (16-0) earned their highest ranking this year and round out the top 5. The Bruins picked up five wins at the Mary Nutter Classic, including three wins against ranked opponents. UCLA edged past No. 13 Oklahoma 3-2 and then-No. 18 Missouri 4-3 and handed then-No. 12 Nebraska a 6-2 loss.
Rounding out the top 10: No. 6 Oregon (14-1) continued their winning streak with a 5-0 showing at the Mary Nutter Classic that included wins against then-No. 23 LSU and then-No. 24 Notre Dame; No. 7 Washington (13-2) fell five spots this week after suffering losses to then-No. 23 LSU and Northwestern; No. 8 Kentucky (13-2) moved down two spots after a 3-2 performance at the FAU Kickoff Classic; No. 9 Arizona (13-1) made the biggest jump for the second consecutive week with a 4-1 outing at the Mary Nutter Classic; No. 10 Alabama (12-3) picked up wins against Virginia Tech and Central Florida before falling to McNeese State 5-3.
A lot of shifting occurred outside the top 10 this week with several teams moving up and down the poll. No. 11 Florida State (13-1) came up two points shy of holding their top-10 spot from last week's poll despite a perfect 3-0 weekend at home while No. 14 Stanford (14-3) fell in this week's poll after losing three games to ranked opponents. Moving up this week is No. 12 Baylor (12-3), who picked up a 3-2 win against Missouri and handed Stanford their first loss in a 7-1 matchup. No. 21 LSU (12-5) also rose this week after a 5-2 week which included two wins against higher-ranked opponents. The Tigers handed Washington their first loss of the season with a 6-3 win and upset Stanford 5-3.
Dropping out of the top 25 are last week's No. 25 Texas (8-9) who went 2-3 at the Mary Nutter Classic The Longhorns suffered losses to UNLV (3-2), then-No. 2 Washington (3-2) and California (5-2) and picked up wins against Cal Poly (13-7) and Fresno State (5-0). Taking the place of Texas this week is No. 24 Arkansas (13-3), who makes their first appearance in the Top 25 this year. The Razorbacks outscored opponents 77- 13 in a 6-0 outing last week, including four victories via run-rule.