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LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Unbeaten Tufts University (41-0) starts defense of its two straight national championships later this week in a familiar position — as the top-ranked team in the National Fastpitch Coaches Association (NFCA) Division III Top 25 softball rankings.

 

Tufts matched two NCAA Division III marks by winning the New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC) championship over the weekend. The Jumbos extended their victory streak to 43 games, dating back to the final two games of the NCAA Championship Series last May, and have won 41 straight this season to tie the 2004-05 St. Thomas (Minn.) team in both areas. The Tommies won back-to-back national crowns before losing to Rutgers-Camden in the 2006 championship game.

This is the 12th week at No. 1 for Tufts this season and 15th consecutive week overall. The Jumbos have now won 74 of their last 75 and have received every first-place vote going back to last April. They have been ranked first in 16 of the last 19 polls and 21 of the last 25.

The two teams behind them — Texas-Tyler (41-2) and East Texas Baptist (33-4) — remain unchanged for the fourth straight week after finishing 1-2 in the American Southwest Conference tournament. Last year’s NCAA runner-up Salisbury (30-6) moves up two places to the No. 4 spot, replacing Luther (36-4), which drops one place to fifth, while Trine (37-3) slides down to sixth.

Emory (31-7) and Wisconsin-Whitewater (36-7) remain seventh and eighth, respectively, while Illinois Wesleyan (36-8) gains two spots to surge ahead of Virginia Wesleyan (29-6) in 10th.

No. 17 Moravian (34-5) and No. 18 Fontbonne (30-9) made the biggest jumps of the week — seven and five places, respectively — after capturing their conference tournaments, while on the other side of things, St. Thomas fell six spots to 20th after losing twice to Gustavus Adolphus in the Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (MIAC) tournament.

On the strength of its MIAC performance, which included a 4-3 walkoff win over St. Thomas in the championship game, the (33-14) Gusties entered the rankings in the receiving votes category, along with Northern Athletics Collegiate Conference tournament titlist Aurora (35-6). Messiah, William Paterson and Wisconsin-Eau Claire dropped out this week.

The NFCA Division III Top 25 Poll is selected by eight NCAA Division III head coaches representing the eight NCAA regions. Current records are listed, with first-place votes in parentheses. The final NFCA Top 25 will be released following the completion of the NCAA Championship.

For the complete poll, click HERE

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