OKLAHOMA CITY — The Crimson Tide, the defending National Champion, has secured the No. 1 spot in the pre-season ESPN.com/USA Softball Collegiate Top 25 Poll the Amateur Softball Association (ASA) of America and USA Softball announced today. The Tide claimed 13 of 20 first place votes in the poll following their first-ever NCAA Women’s College World Series (WCWS) title.
At the 2012 NCAA WCWS in Oklahoma City, the Tide, led by Most Outstanding Player Jackie Traina (Naples, Fla.), overcame two rain delays and an early three-run deficit to earn the Southeastern Conference (SEC) its first National Championship title. Coming off their runner-up finish, the Oklahoma Sooners stole seven No. 1 votes in the poll. The No. 2 ranking matches Oklahoma’s highest preseason ranking in school history.
Six of the schools in the pre-season Top 8 participated in the 2012 WCWS with seventh ranked Missouri and eighth ranked Georgia being the exceptions. Missouri saw their season come to an end at the hands of now-No. 12 LSU, while Georgia fell to now-No. 5 Tennessee at the Knoxville Super Regional in 2012. California starts the season at No. 3 with Arizona State, Oregon, Texas and South Florida claiming 4, 6, 9 and 10, respectively . No. 10 South Florida finished the 2012 season at No. 8 following their program’s first WCWS appearance, while LSU, who ended the 2012 season at No. 6, comes in at No. 12 this week.
The Pacific 12 Conference (Pac-12) and SEC lead the way with seven teams ranked in the pre-season Top 25, while the Big 12 boasts four squads in the first poll. The Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) and Big East have two teams representing their conferences, while the Big 10 Conference, Big West Conference, Colonial Athletic Association and Sun Belt Conference each had one team among the Top 25.
Of the teams ranked in the pre-season poll, four squads had athletes on the 2012 USA Softball Women’s National Team. Alabama is represented by Traina, Keilani Ricketts (San Jose, Calif.) and Jessica Shults (Valencia, Calif.) play for Oklahoma, Lauren Gibson (Pasadena, Md.) plays for Tennessee and Chelsea Thomas (Pleasantville, Iowa) plays for Missouri.
The ESPN.com/USA Softball Collegiate Top 25 Poll is currently in its 11th year. Starting Feb. 12, regular season polls will be released for 14 consecutive Tuesdays with the final poll of the season to be released on June 11 following the WCWS. The first of 14 USA Softball Collegiate Players of the Week will also be announced on Feb. 12 with a new player chosen each Tuesday of the regular season.
In addition to conducting the ESPN.com/USA Softball collegiate Top 25 Poll and the USA Softball Player of the Week, ASA/USA Softball is also in the 12th season of the USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year award. The Top 50 Watch List for the USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year will be announced Feb. 1 with the Top 25 announced April 10, the Top 10 announced May 8 and the Top 3 announced May 22. The 2012 USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year will be revealed May 28. Keilani Ricketts was named the 2012 USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year following a stellar junior season. She returns to collegiate action this year as do five other Top 10 Finalists from last season.
Click here to see the complete listing of the ESPN.com/USA Softball Collegiate 2013 Top 25 Pre-Season Poll.
The Amateur Softball Association, founded in 1933, is the National Governing Body of softball in the United States and a member of the United States Olympic Committee. The ASA has become one of the nation’s largest sports organizations and now sanctions competition in every state through a network of 76 local associations. The ASA has grown from a few hundred teams in the early days to over 210,000 teams today, representing a membership of more than three million. For more information on the ASA, visit http://www.asasoftball.com/.
About USA Softball
USA Softball is the brand created, operated and owned by the ASA that links the USA Men’s, Women’s, Junior Boys’ and Junior Girls’ National Team programs together. USA Softball is responsible for training, equipping and promoting these four National Teams to compete in international and domestic competitions. The USA Softball Women’s National Team is one of the only two women’s sports involved in the Olympic movement to capture three consecutive gold medals at the Olympic Games since 1996. The U.S. women have also won nine World Championship titles including the last seven consecutive as well as claimed six World Cup of Softball titles. For more information about USA Softball, please visit http://www.usasoftball.com/.
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