College softball: Undefeated Oklahoma opens season at No. 1 in first USA Today/NFCA poll
LOUISVILLE, Ky. – Oklahoma opened its 2018 campaign with five wins and is the No. 1 team in the first USA Today/NFCA Division I Top 25 Coaches Poll of the regular season. The Sooners (5-0) collected 31 of 32 first-place votes and 799 points.
OU was one of nine programs in the preseason’s top-10 to open the season undefeated as 14 preseason ranked teams did not drop a game on the opening weekend. Those 14 are joined this week by undefeated newcomers No. 22 Ohio State, No. 23 California and No. 24 McNeese State.
The Sooners swept through the competition at the Grand Canyon University Kickoff Tournament in Phoenix, Ariz. OU knocked off Weber State (6-3) and host Grand Canyon (8-1) before closing out with three straight shutouts.
Earning the other first-place vote and 767 points, No. 2 Florida pitched four shutouts to start 2018, including a 2-0 triumph over then-No. 18 Michigan. The Gators (5-0) also blanked Illinois State (9-0), Georgia State (11-0) and UAB (6-0), along with a 14-3 victory over host USF in their final game at the USF-Wilson DeMarini Tournament.
Oregon bashed its way to a 6-0 showing at the Kajikawa Classic, scoring 73 runs and launching 17 long balls. After an 8-3 win over then-No. 25 Georgia in their opener, the Ducks run-ruled their final five opponents and scored 14-plus runs in the last four contests.
Another Pac-12 program had an offensive outburst in its opening weekend as No. 4 Washington churned out 70 runs and homered 16 times in five games at the Peterson Hotels Invitational at the LSSC Dome in Peoria, Ill. The Huskies (5-0) scored at least 10 runs in all five of their run-rule victories, including 19 versus Miami (Ohio), and also posted shutouts in their final four contest.
No. 5 UCLA opened at home with five wins, topping Maryland (5-1), Middle Tennessee (11-0), Cal Poly twice (13-0, 7-2) and UC Riverside (13-2). The sixth-ranked Texas A&M Aggies also began 2018 at home with four triumphs. Texas A&M rallied from a 4-0 deficit in its season-opener and walked-off with a 5-4 victory over Houston. After two wins over Boston College (3-1 / 11-3), the Aggies (4-0) scored nine unanswered runs to rally past Texas Tech 9-5.
No. 7 LSU and No. 8 Florida State each moved up one spot in the rankings after 4-0 starts. The Tigers (4-0) opened with a 3-0 win over UIC before taking all three contests in their rain-shortened Tiger Classic. The Seminoles ventured out to the Lone Star State and knocked off Portland State (18-1, 11-1) and host Texas State (4-2, 8-0) at a weather-shortened Bobcat Classic.
Rounding out the top-10 is No. 9 Alabama and No. 10 Tennessee. The two programs elevated two spots each, respectively. The Crimson Tide (3-0) opened with a tough 1-0 win at South Alabama and posted two more shutouts over Penn State (10-0) and Lamar (13-0) at a rain-shortened Sand Dollar Classic in Gulf Shores, Miss.
The Lady Vols (6-0) enjoyed a perfect opening weekend at the Kajikawa Classic, which included wins over host and then-No. 23 Arizona State (7-4) and in walk-off fashion against then-No. 15 Utah (6-5). UT also topped Boise State (8-1), Western Michigan (6-2), San Jose State (7-6) and UC Davis (6-0).
The only top-10 program to suffer a defeat was then-No. 7 Arizona, which went 4-1 with its only defeat to then-No. 24 Oklahoma State (9-4).
As previously mentioned No. 22 Ohio State, No. 23 California and No. 24 McNeese State entered the poll after receiving votes in the preseason. Falling out of the Top 25 are then-No. 19 BYU (1-4), then-No. 20 Tulsa (2-2) and then No. 21 James Madison (3-2).
The 2018 USA Today/NFCA Division I Top 25 Poll is voted on by 32 NCAA Division I head coaches, one representing each conference. Records reflect games played through Feb. 12.