OKLAHOMA CITY, Okla. --- The Amateur Softball Association announced today the Florida Gators at No. 1 in the 2009 ESPN.com/USA Softball Collegiate Top 25 pre-season Poll. A 2008 Women’s College World Series contender, the Gators return all but one starter from the 2008 squad and received 18 first-place votes this week. Led by the pitching efforts of senior Stacey Nelson (Los Alamitos, Calif.), the Gators will look to their five returning All-Americans as they fight for a return trip to Oklahoma City.
Close behind Florida is SEC conference foe the University of Alabama at No. 2. The Crimson Tide also reached the WCWS in Oklahoma City, but fell short to the 2008 NCAA defending champion Arizona State who comes into the poll at No. 3 while also earning one first place vote.
Just four points behind the Sun Devils are Pac-10 rivals the UCLA Bruins at No. 4 who received one first-place vote and return 14 letterwinners from their 2008 WCWS team. Rounding out the top five is the University of Michigan at No. 5 while the Oklahoma Sooners land at No. 6 with the return of power hitter Samantha Ricketts (San Jose, Calif.) and junior pitcher DJ Mathis (East Alton, Ill.).
No. 8 Louisiana-Lafayette returns to the 2009 season with sophomore pitching ace Ashley Brignac (River Ridge, La.) while 2008 WCWS Final Series team Texas A&M rounds out the top ten at No. 10.
Making a large move from just receiving votes in the final 2008 poll is the University of Washington who is at No. 15 this week thanks to the return of Canadian Olympic pitcher Danielle Lawrie (Langley, British Columbia) and senior shortstop Ashley Charters (Beaverton, Ore.).
The top ten teams represent five conferences while 11 conferences are represented in the poll. The Pac-10 Conference leads with six teams overall and four schools in the top ten. The Southeastern Conference is second with five teams in the top 25 followed by the Big 12 with three teams. The Big Ten, WAC, and ACC each have two schools in the top 25 while the Sun Belt, Conference USA, the Big East, the Big West and the Atlantic 10 each have one school in the rankings.
The first regular season poll will be released Feb. 10 and will be released on a weekly basis throughout the softball season. The 2009 USA Softball National Collegiate Player of the Year Top 50 Watch List will be released tomorrow, Wednesday, January 28.
To view the complete poll click here
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