LOUISVILLE, Ky. – Despite each squad receiving an equal number of first-place votes, Florida (11-0) has now edged past Tennessee (9-0) to take over at No. 1 in the USA Today/NFCA Division I softball poll for Feb. 18.
The Gators received 15 of 32 possible first-place votes and 782 total points to lead the second-rated Lady Vols (15 first-place votes/776 points) by only six total tallies in the latest rankings. UF rolled through the Easton Desert Classic in Las Vegas, Nev., over Feb. 14-16, outscoring its five opponents by a combined total of 59-6. Included in those victories was a 15-2 (6 inn.) rout of then-No. 22 Minnesota, a 19-2 (5 inn.) hammering of Ohio State and an 11-1 (5 inn.) drubbing of Hawai’i.
Tennessee dropped from the top spot despite remaining unbeaten following a perfect 5-0 performance at the USF Tournament in Tampa, Fla. The Big Orange totaled 38 runs during the event, registered a 3-2 win over home standing USF (received votes in the last poll) and trounced previously unbeaten Illinois, 10-0.
After blowing through the Littlewood Classic in Tempe, Ariz., Washington (10-0) picked up a pair of first-place nods to hold steady at No. 3. Included in UW’s efforts was an 18-1 (6 inn.) rout of San Jose State (received votes in last poll) and a 3-1 victory over then-No. 11 and defending national champion Oklahoma (6-4).
An unbeaten performance at its own Littlewood Classic, including a triumph over the then-No. 11 Sooners helped Arizona State (11-0) climb a single slot to No. 4, while Kentucky (10-0) continued its rapid rise up the rankings, leaping to an all-time program high of fifth. The Wildcats managed a perfect mark at the Texas Classic in Austin, Texas, including two wins over the then-No. 15 Longhorns (6-4, 6-5).
Following its 5-0 performance at the Easton Desert Classic in Las Vegas, Nev., Oregon (9-1) made the largest move within last week’s Top 10, leaping from 10th to sixth. Michigan (7-2) dropped a single slot to No. 7 after going 4-1 at the Ragin’ Cajun Invite in Lafayette, La. An unbeaten, six-game effort at the Stacy Winsberg Tournament in Los Angeles, Calif., helped UCLA (11-0) advance into the top 10 for the first time in 2014 as the Bruins currently sit at No. 8. Alabama (8-2) plummeted five positions from fourth to ninth following a 3-2 weekend in the Hillenbrand Invite in Tucson, Ariz. During the event, the Crimson Tide suffered a pair of rare shutouts against then-No. 24 Arizona (3-0, 8-0 in 5 inn.). As a result, the Wildcats were rewarded with a staggering 10-position leap from No. 24 to No. 14 in the new rankings. A 6-0 record at the Renegade Classic in Tallahassee, Fla., allowed Florida State (10-1) to advance from 13th into the 10th slot.
Former-No. 23 California (5-4) and No. 25 Louisville (4-5) dropped from this week’s poll, allowing Tulsa (9-1) and Notre Dame (6-1) the opportunity to enter the rankings for the first time in 2014 at No. 22 and No. 24, respectively.
The USA Today/NFCA Division I Top 25 Poll is voted on by 32 NCAA Division I head coaches, one representing each conference.
To view the complete USA Today/NFCA Division I Top 25 Poll, please click this LINK.