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Florida Strengthens Its Hold on the Top Spot in USA Today/NFCA Division I Top 25 Poll

LOUISVILLE, Ky. – A 16-game winning streak to open the 2014 campaign has helped Florida (16-0) strengthen its hold on the No. 1 position in the Feb. 25th release of the USA Today/NFCA Division I softball poll.

The Gators received 20 of 32 possible first-place votes to expand their advantage over No. 2 Tennessee (13-0) from six to 12 points in the latest listing. UF recorded a perfect 5-0 week, with four match-ups at its home-hosted Lipton Invitational in Gainesville, Fla., that included victories over Jacksonville, Troy and Indiana.

Second-ranked Tennessee (13-0) was one of many teams throughout the country that made the trip to Cathedral City, Calif., to participate in the high-profile Mary Nutter Collegiate Classic. During their stay at the prestigious event, the Lady Vols downed a pair of ranked teams in then-No. 11 Nebraska (5-3) and then-No. 13 Stanford (3-1) and also picked up hard-fought wins over Oregon State (5-1) and Fresno State (5-4).

Another perfect home weekend, this one at its own Diamond Devil Invitational, allowed Arizona State (17-0) the opportunity to climb a single spot to third, while Oregon (14-1) rose from sixth to fourth following its unbeaten effort at the Mary Nutter Collegiate Classic. The Ducks won all five of their match-ups, including triumphs over then-No. 23 LSU (4-1) and then-No. 24 Notre Dame (2-0 in 9 inn.). 

No. 5 UCLA (16-0) topped a trio of ranked squads, then-No. 18 Oklahoma (3-2), then-No. 16 Missouri (4-3) and then-No. 11 Nebraska (6-2), and picked up a first-place vote to continue its rapid, early-season jaunt up the polls.

A perfect run through the FAU Kickoff Classic in Boca Raton, Fla., helped Michigan (12-2) improve a slot to sixth. Despite receiving one first-place nod, Washington (13-2) still fell from third to No. 7 after suffering its first two losses of 2014 at the Mary Nutter Classic to then-No. 23 LSU (3-6) and Northwestern (2-4). Eighth-ranked Kentucky (13-2) saw its unbeaten run to start the season come to an abrupt end in Boca Raton, Fla., with shutout losses against Kent State (0-3) and top 10 team Michigan (0-3) to drop three positions. Florida State won a trio of games at home in Tallahassee, Fla., to climb one spot to ninth, while No. 10 Arizona (13-1) leapt from 14th into the top 10 for the first time in 2014 after going 4-1 at the Mary Nutter Classic with high-profile victories over then-No. 12 Texas A&M (4-2) and then-No. 11 Nebraska (7-0). 

Texas (8-9) was dropped from the No. 25 slot in last week’s poll, allowing for the entrance of Auburn (13-1-1) in that position in the new listing. Head coach Clint Myers’ Tigers swept through their Wilson-DeMarini Classic in Auburn, Ala., with triumphs over Jacksonville State (6-5 in 9 inn. and 13-3 in 5 inn.), Samford (3-0) and Purdue (8-0 in 5 inn.).

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.