College softball rankings: Florida strengthens hold on No. 1 in latest USA Today/ NFCA Coaches poll
LOUISVILLE, Ky. – Following another dominant week, Florida strengthened its hold the No. 1 ranking in the USA Today/NFCA Division I Top 25 Coaches Poll. The Gators (44-3) collected 30 first-place votes and 798 of a possible 800 points.
Florida put together a 4-0 week, which saw its NCAA-best pitching staff allow one run over the course of 26 innings. After a 9-1 mid-week win over in-state foe UCF, the Gators’ pitching staff surrendered just seven hits as they shutout then-No. 18 Ole Miss in a Southeastern Conference sweep by the scores of 2-0, 3-0 and 5-0. With three more shutouts, UF has posted 28 on the season, including 14 over Top 25 competition, and lowered its NCAA-best ERA to 0.70.
Florida State also picked up four wins last week and remained at No. 2 with 754 points. The Seminoles (43-3-1) swept a mid-week twinbill at Troy (9-3, 2-0) and opened their road ACC series at Louisville with two triumphs over the Cardinals (11-0, 4-3 in 10 inn.).
Arizona, which earned a first-place vote, also stayed put, holding on to the No. 3 ranking following a 4-1 week. The Wildcats (45-4) took care of business in a mid-week doubleheader at New Mexico State (8-0, 11-1) and claimed the first two games in home a Pac-12 matchup versus No. 6 Oregon (2-0, 10-7) before dropping the finale, 4-3.
Minnesota and Texas A&M switched positions as the Gophers (43-3) took over the No. 4 ranking, their highest in program history. Minnesota, who picked up the final first-place vote, won five Big Ten contests, topping RV Wisconsin (6-0 in 12 inn., 12-1) on the road and taking all three at home from Iowa (5-0, 9-1, 3-0). The Aggies (40-5) slipped up in mid-week action, coming up short in a comeback bid against then-No. 17 Louisiana (9-11) before sweeping No. 22 Georgia (10-3, 1-0, 2-0) in SEC action.
Oregon did not move from No. 6 after dropping a Pac-12 series at No. 3 Arizona. No. 7 Oklahoma and No. 8 Washington each moved up one position. The Sooners (41-8) enjoyed a 3-1 week, which included a crucial Big 12 series win over No. 15 Baylor. OU grabbed a 3-2 10-inning triumph in game one and clinched the series with a 6-0 shutout in the finale. The Bears (36-9) 4-3 victory in game two snapped the Sooners’ 17-game winning streak as well as their 25 consecutive victories in conference play and 33-game home winning streak.
Washington had a successful cross-country trip to the Heart of Dixie, defeating UAB (8-0) and trumping No. 13 Alabama (3-2, 3-0) in a two-game series at Rhoads Stadium. It was the Huskies (34-10) first sweep of the Tide since a 2007 Super Regional matchup.
Auburn slipped to No. 9 after a 3-1 week, while Utah remained at No. 10. The Tigers (39-8) knocked off Kennesaw State at home and claimed a SEC series win on the road, taking the first two games from RV South Carolina (2-0, 2-0). In a closely-contested Pac-12 series, the Utes (30-9) rebounded from a 9-8 loss in the opener to claim the series with 7-6 and 2-1 victories at No. 23 Arizona State.
Making its first appearance of 2017 is Marshall at No. 25, replacing Illinois, who appeared for the first time last week.
The 2017 USA Today/NFCA Division I Top 25 Poll is voted on by 32 NCAA Division I head coaches, one representing each conference. Records reflect games played through April 23.
Rankings – USA Today/NFCA Coaches
Receiving votes: Illinois (31), Tulsa (21), Mississippi State (13), South Carolina (11), Texas State (8), Missouri (6), North Carolina (5), Florida International (5), California (4), Saint Francis (Pa.) (4), Ohio State (1).