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NFCA | February 14, 2017

Florida rises to No. 1 in first poll of regular season

  Sophomore Kelly Barnhill struck out 12 in a one-hitter vs. USF on Sunday.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. – Powered by a 5-0 start and wins over Michigan and USF, Florida rose to No. 1 in the first 2017 USA Today/NFCA Division I Coaches Poll of the regular season, announced the Association on Tuesday morning.

The Gators (5-0) received 18 of a possible 32 first-place votes and 771 points to claim the No. 1 ranking, a spot they held in all but two polls in 2016. Opening at the USF-Wilson Demarini Tournament, UF edged then-No. 6 Michigan 2-1 in 10 innings and toppled host and then-No. 25 USF, 8-0. They also defeated Illinois State (9-0), St. John’s (5-2) and Delaware (9-0).

FULL COACHES POLL | ESPN/USA SOFTBALL RANKING

Auburn and Florida State remained at No. 2 and No. 3, receiving eight and four first-place votes, respectively. In their season opener, the Tigers (3-1) knocked off preseason No. 1 Oklahoma 3-2 at the Puerto Vallarta College Challenge in Mexico. Auburn also edged Nebraska 3-2 and BYU 3-0, while falling in 10 innings to then-No. 13 Washington (2-1). 

The Seminoles (5-0) dominated the competition at their Unconquered Invitational, limiting the opposition to just three runs with wins over Lipscomb (13-1), Furman (5-1, 9-1) and Marshall (1-0, 7-0).

Preseason No. 1 Oklahoma (two first-place votes) dropped to No. 4 following a 2-2 outing at the Puerto Vallarta College Challenge. After falling to Auburn, OU topped BYU (7-1) and Nebraska (6-0) before dropping its final contest to Washington (0-1).

Alabama rounds out the top-5, moving up two spots after a 5-0 showing at Coastal Carolina’s Kickn’ Chicken Classic. The Crimson Tide outscored their opponent 43-5, which included a 17-0 thumping of Towson and a 19-strikeout perfect game from Alexis Osorio against the host Chanticleers.

Making the biggest jump in the poll is No. 8 Washington, moving up from No. 13 after two huge one-run wins over No. 1 Oklahoma and No. 2 Auburn and 7-5 triumph against Nebraska, which were highlighted by the strong pitching of Taran Alvelo.

MORE: Alabama's Alexis Osorio tosses perfect game with 19 Ks

UCLA moved up to sixth following a 5-0 start hosting the Stacy Winsberg Memorial Tournament. Oregon (6-0) and Arizona (5-0) stayed at No. 9 and 10 with their undefeated starts. LSU dropped from a tie for fourth to seventh after a 4-1 showing at their Tiger Classic.

Making their way into the poll are Pittsburgh and BYU at No. 24 and 25, respectively, while No. No. 22 Notre Dame and No. 23 Florida Atlantic dropped out. The Panthers (5-0) opened at the UCF Knights Invitational, pick up a pair of wins over then-No. 20 Kentucky (3-1, 6-3) and host UCF (6-0, 6-3). The Cougars (2-2) defeated Washington (4-2) and Nebraska (12-1) at the Puerto Vallarta College Challenge. 

The USA Today/NFCA Division I Top 25 Poll is voted on by 32 NCAA Division I head coaches, one representing each conference. Final 2016 records are shown, first-place votes are in parentheses.

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