The LSU Tigers (30-1, 5-1 SEC) secured their spot atop the ESPN.com/USA Softball Collegiate Top 25 Poll for the second straight week following a series win over No. 6 Oklahoma (25-5). The Tigers continued to prove that they are the No. 1 team in the country, outscoring a tough Sooner offense 11-2, earning them 19-of-20 first place votes, while Florida garnered the remaining vote.
Playing in their first game in program history as the No.1 team in the country, the Tigers defeated a scrappy Nicholls State squad 6-1. Nicholls State took a 1-0 lead in the third inning before the Tigers came back to score six straight to remain undefeated on their home field. Last week's USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Week Bianka Bell (Tampa, Fla.) led the Tigers, going 4-4 with a double and four RBI. LSU then turned their sights on Oklahoma with the first game between the Tigers and the Sooners living up to the hype as the game became a pitching duel. Freshman Tiger pitcher Carley Hoover (Clemson, S.C.) earned her second shutout of the season and her fifth complete game of the year by holding the Sooners to only two hits while Bell also came up big for the Tigers, hitting a solo home run to secure the 1-0 victory. In the second game against Oklahoma, the Tigers bats came alive, knocking in 10 runs on 10 hits to defeat the Sooners 10-2 in six innings. Six of the ten hits for the Tigers were home runs.
No. 2 Florida (29-2, 2-2 SEC) held onto the second spot for the second straight week after playing the first game of a three set series against then then T4. Alabama Crimson Tide (21-6, 5-2 SEC). The Gators went on the road and defeated the Crimson Tide 1-0 in a rematch of the WCWS Championship series. Senior Gator pitcher Lauren Haegar (Peoria, Ariz.) blanked the Crimson Tide while a fielding error scored the game’s only run in the top of the sixth inning. The remaining two games in the series were pushed back to Monday due to rain with the Gators and Crimson Tide splitting the final two games.
No. 3 Oregon (25-3, 5-0 Pac 12) stood pat in the poll this week following a series sweep at conference foe Utah. In the first game of the series, the Ducks withstood a late seventh inning push when a pair of errors allowed the Utes to score two unearned runs. With a 4-2 win under the belt, Oregon then secured the series win with a 15-9 victory over Utah. The Ducks return home next week with series against Utah Valley and No. 17 Washington (28-8, 1-4 Pac 12).
Coming in at No. 4 this week is Michigan (28-4, 3-0 Big 10). The Wolverines defeated Bowling Green 8-1 before traveling to Columbus for a three game series against Big 10 Conference rival Ohio State. Michigan’s bats stayed hot, outscoring the Buckeyes 46-2 over the three games series. Michigan softball coach Carol Hutchins earned her 1,4000th career victory in the final game of the series, a 20-0 five inning rout. Hutchins is just the third coach to reach 1,4000 wins in NCAA softball history.
The Alabama Crimson Tide round out the Top 5 this week after posting a 1-1 week. The Crimson Tide defeated Georgia State 9-1 in five innings before falling in dramatic fashion to Florida 1-0 at home.
Rounding out the Top 10: No. 6 Oklahoma held their spot in the poll this week after a 3-2 week, including two shutout wins; No. 7 Georgia (28-5, 6-3 SEC) rose one spot this week after sweeping Southeastern Conference (SEC) rival Arkansas; Louisiana-Lafayette (25-4, 10-2 Sun Belt) dropped to No. 8 after a 5-1 week; No. 9 Auburn (32-2, 6-0 SEC) entered the Top 10 for the first time this season after sweeping a series matchup against then-No. 12 Kentucky (21-8, 1-5 SEC); UCLA (29-5, 5-0 Pac 12) fell to No. 10 but picked up two wins over No. 17 Washington.
Making the biggest jump in the polls this week is Minnesota (27-4, 3-0 Big 10), who rose three spots to No. 12 in the polls after a perfect 4-0 week, including a win at then-No. 14 California (23-6, 2-4 Pac 12) and a series sweep over Big 10 opponent Illinois. Falling three spots to No. 15 this week is Kentucky, who was swept in a series at Auburn.
Only one team joined the Top 25 this week. South Alabama (21-6, 5-3 Sun Belt) is tied for the No. 24 spot this week following a win against Southern Mississippi and a series sweep against Appalachian State. Dropping out of the polls is last week's No. 24 Mississippi State (22-8, 4-5 SEC) who dropped two out of three against unranked Ole Miss.
The ESPN.com/USA Softball Collegiate Top 25 Poll is voted on by coaching representatives of 10 Division I Conferences in the 15 ASA/USA Softball Regions as well as members of the National and Local media who consistently cover Division I Softball across the country.
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