ARIZONA TOPS USA SOFTBALL POLL
OKLAHOMA CITY — Arizona begins the 2011 softball season as the top ranked team in the ESPN.com/USA Softball Pre-Season Collegiate Top 25 Poll, the Amateur Softball Association (ASA) of America announced today. ASA/USA Softball is in its ninth season of releasing the ESPN.com/USA Softball Collegiate Top 25 Poll along with the USA Softball Player of the Week Award, which will start next month, and ultimately the USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year.
The Wildcats received nine first-place votes while No. 2 UCLA received 10 and No. 3 Alabama received one. Also in the Top 10 of the pre-season poll are No. 4 Georgia, No. 5 Florida, No. 6 Oklahoma, No. 7 Tennessee, No. 8 Michigan, No. 9 Missouri and No. 10 Arizona State. With the loss of two-time USA Softball Player of the Year Danielle Lawrie (Langley, B.C.), who won in her junior and senior seasons, Washington finished No. 11 in the pre-season poll.
In 2010, Arizona was led by freshman pitcher Kenzie Fowler (Tucson, Ariz.), a Top 10 Finalist for the USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year Award, to the Women’s College World Series in Oklahoma City, Okla. After dropping the first game 9-0 to Tennessee in five innings, the Wildcats battled back to make the Championship Series, where they ultimately fell to UCLA. Arizona finished the season 52-13.
The Bruins finished last year with a 50-11 record. While UCLA received the most first-place votes in the poll, the defending National Champion Bruins ultimately finished second to Arizona, a team they beat 6-5 (eight innings) and 15-9 in Oklahoma City. Megan Langenfeld (Bakersfield, Calif.), who was a Top 3 Finalist for the USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year Award, was instrumental in the team’s performance at the Women’s College World Series, winning the Most Outstanding Player Award to cap off her senior season.
Alabama, the No. 1 seed in the post season last year, missed out on the Women’s College World Series because of a walk-off home run from Hawaii’s Jenna Rodriguez in the final game of the Super Regionals. The Crimson Tide lost to the Rainbow Wahine 7-8 and 4-5 in their final two games of the season but finished 52-11 overall. Hawaii comes into the season ranked No. 13.
Georgia made it to the 2010 Women’s College World Series, defeating Washington 6-3, losing to Tennessee 7-5, beating Florida 3-2 and then exiting the tournament with a 5-2 loss to UCLA to finish 50-13 overall. In their 49-10 season, Florida made it to Oklahoma City but lost the first game to UCLA 16-3 (six innings), defeated Missouri 5-0 and were eliminated by Georgia.
The Pac-10 conference has seven teams in the Top 25 poll while the SEC and the Big 12 have five teams. Other conferences with ranked teams are the Big 10 (Michigan, No. 24 Illinois and No. 25 Ohio State), the ACC (No. 17 Georgia Tech and No. 23 Florida State), Mountain West (No. 20 BYU), Sun Belt (No. 21 Louisiana-Lafayette) and WAC (Hawaii).
The regular season poll, which is announced every Tuesday throughout the season, will begin on Feb. 15 along with the Player of the Week honors.
ESPN.com/USA Softball Collegiate Top 25
Pre-season – January 25, 2011
|Rank||Team||2010 Record||Points||Final 2010 Ranking|
|19.||Texas A &M||44-16||121||22|
Parenthesis Denotes first place votes.
Dropped Out: North Carolina
New to Poll: Florida State
Others receiving votes: Fordham (41); San Diego State (30); UMASS (29); Notre Dame (22); North Carolina (13); Northwestern (11); Oregon State (11); DePaul (10); Fresno State (9); Hofstra (9); Kentucky (8); Louisville (8); Lipscomb (7); Radford (7); FIU (5); Texas Tech (4); East Carolina (2); Syracuse (2); and Maryland (1)