The tenth week of the 2017 NCAA Softball season had a lot of upsets throughout the entire top 20. Teams that were on fire, such as Arizona, dropped series while others, like Texas A&M, had a small blip over the past week.
Of all the power rankings to this point, this was by far the most difficult due to the chaos that happened in the past week. Below we list the top 16 teams along with the next four teams.
We will start by providing the fifth edition of the power rankings below. Please note the records below are through April 11.
Below are the previous editions of our Power Rankings.
Below is the sixth edition of our 2017 power rankings. Please note the records listed are through games as of April 18.
#1 – Florida Gators (40-3 Overall, 15-2 SEC)
In a normal week, the Gators (#1 last week) may have been relegated to second or third due to a loss to Kentucky, a team they are superior to. However, this was no ordinary week as the six teams directly below them from week five’s power ranking lost at least one game (or two in many cases). The Gators also own one of the best victories of the week: a 1-0 win over Florida State, a team that was #1 the in coaches polls last week.
The Gators’ loss, 5-1 at the Wildcats, was a strange one in which nothing really worked for them. The bats were not effective with only two hits, Delanie Gourley gave up all five runs on 8 hits, and the Gators committed two errors. Florida did not allow a run in the three wins and only gave up six hits combined including Kelly Barnhill’s no-hitter on Sunday.
Florida faces Central Florida on Wednesday and Ole Miss, a potentially tough opponent, at home over the weekend.
#2 – Texas A&M Aggies (37-4 Overall, 11-3 SEC)
Texas A&M actually moves up the rankings from 4th last week. The Aggies won two of three against Arkansas on the road. All three were close as the Aggies won 3-0 on Friday and 3-2 on Saturday. Sunday’s contest was a 4-3 loss in which the Aggies trailed 2-0 after six, took a 3-2 lead in the seventh, and then lost the game 4-3 in the bottom of the seventh.
Texas A&M welcomes Louisiana-Lafayette on Wednesday in a big midweek non-conference game. Georgia will be visiting over the weekend as well.
#3 – Arizona Wildcats (43-3 Overall, 13-2 Pac-12)
Arizona is down one spot after losing two of three to Utah on the road. The Wildcats won 5-1 on Thursday and then were defeated 6-3 on Friday after falling behind 6-0. They were unlucky in the series finale losing 3-2 on a walk-off single in the seventh inning. They also took care of New Mexico State in a doubleheader on Tuesday by a combined score of 19-1.
It is difficult to discredit Arizona’s overall resume, but another tough weekend at home to Oregon might be a slight cause for concern.
#4 – Oklahoma Sooners (39-7 Overall, 9-0 Big 12)
Oklahoma (#8 last week) makes a move into the top five after sweeping Kansas, defeating North Texas 8-0 on Tuesday, and seeing other teams falter dramatically over the past week. The Sooners won the three games over the Jayhawks by a combined score of 26-10. The Sooners had struggled early in the season, but since two straight losses to Cal Poly on 3/17 and 3/18, they have won 15 in a row. The Big 12 lead is on the line this weekend against Baylor at home.
#5 – Minnesota Golden Gophers (38-3 Overall, 11-1 Big 10)
The Gophers, like Oklahoma, are up four spots (#9 last week) after sweeping their opponent. They took care of Northwestern over the weekend including Sara Groenewegen’s two-hitter, 10 strikeout performance to close out the sweep. Since their 9-0 defeat at Washington on March 12, Minnesota has won 17 of 18.
Minnesota faces Wisconsin for a midweek doubleheader on Wednesday followed by a three-game set at home against Iowa.
#6 – Florida State Seminoles (41-3-1 Overall, 18-0 ACC)
Florida State (#3 last week) takes a dive three spots after spending three games against SEC competition and Troy. It began with a tough 1-0 loss at rival Florida on a walk-off, but the week continued with a 7-2 loss at South Carolina. There is no shame in the loss against Florida (especially it being so close), but the South Carolina contest was unexpected. FSU gave up 7 runs on 12 hits and neither Jessica Burroughs nor Meghan King had an answer as those two gave up all 7 runs. FSU won the first game on Tuesday against Troy 9-3 and then saw the pitching hold Troy to 2 hits in the second game in a 2-0 victory.
Florida State is still a really good team and a threat to make and win the WCWS. There were concerns about their series against Syracuse (giving up 18 runs in three games) and South Carolina took advantage of that and made the Noles pay. FSU is at Louisville over the weekend with a chance to put the ACC title away.
#7– Oregon Ducks (37-4 Overall, 10-4 Pac-12)
Oregon (#6 last week) falls a spot after losing two of three to Washington. It was a competitive series that saw both losses decided by two runs including the final game when the lost 5-3. In that game, they held a 3-1 lead going into the final inning.
The Ducks did not have the best pitching weekend allowing 7 hits, 5 hits, and 12 hits in each of the three games. As the case with a lot of teams throughout the season, they have hit a rough patch losing 4 of 6. They face Arizona on the road this weekend.
#8 – Utah Utes (28-8 Overall, 10-3 Pac-12)
Utah (#10 last week) took two of three from high flying Arizona during the week. The Utes have won 7 of 8 after losing three in a row to BYU and Oregon (twice) at the end of March. The first two games were similar as Arizona won relatively easy in game one and the same went for the Utes in game two. Game three was a close affair with the Utes coming away with the victory 3-2.
Utah is a dangerous team if their pitching is on as seen in series against UCLA and Arizona (5-1 over those two series). They will face Arizona State on the road over the weekend.
#9 – Auburn Tigers (36-7 Overall, 10-5 SEC)
Auburn (#7 last week) won midweek against Georgia State and then took two of three from Missouri over the weekend. Auburn won 6-3 over the Panthers and then dropped a 6-1 game to Missouri on Friday. Auburn actually trailed 3-0 in the second game, but four runs in the fourth and another in the sixth allowed them to win 5-4. The final game saw Auburn put up a five spot in the fifth inning and they went on to win 6-1.
Auburn will face Kennesaw State on Wednesday and then travel to face a dangerous South Carolina team over the weekend.
#10 – Tennessee Volunteers (39-5 Overall, 11-3 SEC)
The Volunteers (#14 last week) took advantage of both the carnage in the top 25 and Alabama to move up four spots in a week. The Vols ended up playing just two games versus the Tide with Monday’s game canceled due to weather. Both games were close and resulted in walk-off wins for Tennessee. The first game saw the Vols trail 2-0 going into the sixth inning, but they tied the game and then won in seventh on a Chelsea Seggern’s RBI single. The second game was scoreless until the seventh when Brooke Vines hit a two-run home run to end that contest.
Tennessee is one of the hottest teams in the nation. They have won 18 straight games including 8 versus ranked teams and another two against teams that received votes in the Coaches Poll or were ranked in the USA Softball Poll. The Vols are 8th in the NCAA for batting average, 13th in ERA, 14th in fielding percentage, and 5th in scoring. They will travel to face LSU over the weekend.
#11 – Washington Huskies (31-10 Overall, 8-7 Pac-12)
The Huskies are 11th (#15 last week) after they defeated Oregon two games to one just over this past weekend. Washington was able to get to the Oregon pitchers in both wins, which is not an easy task, especially at Eugene.
Washington is a very good team and perhaps the Pac-12 is really good to the point that the teams beating each other is masking how good the conference is a whole. The Huskies have lost 7 of 12 in the conference since their opening sweep of Arizona State. Is Washington an up and down team or is the Pac-12 that good? We actually get a preview of that with Washington facing UAB on Thursday and Alabama on Friday and Saturday on the road.
#12 – UCLA Bruins (30-12 Overall, 5-7 Pac-12)
There are not many teams more frustrating to watch than UCLA (#5 last week). They are swept by Utah to start Pac-12 play, but then win 4 of 6 against Washington and Oregon. How do they follow up that nice stretch? Losing 2 of 3 to Oregon State. After a good pitching weekend against the Ducks, they fall apart in Corvallis.
Oregon State two hit the Bruins in the opener, winning 8-0. UCLA came back to win an offensive battle in game two 7-5. The Bruins had 7 runs on 11 hits compared to 5 runs on 10 hits for OSU. The final game was an 8-5 loss for UCLA where the Bruins held a slim 5-4 advantage going to the bottom of the seventh. Natalie Hampton, who tore up the Bruins in the two losses, hit the walk-off three-run shot.
The Bruins defeated Cal State Fullerton 7-3 on Tuesday and will be facing California at home over the weekend. It will be interesting to see how they fare in this series.
#13 – Baylor Bears (35-7 Overall, 8-1 Big 12)
Baylor (#11 last week) played just one game over the past week, a 1-0 loss to Texas State on the road. The Bears could not get anything going against Randi Rupp as Kelsee Selman’s strong pitching performance did not result in a favorable result. The Bears were scheduled to face Houston on Tuesday in a doubleheader, but those were canceled due to weather. Baylor has a massive series at Oklahoma this weekend and will play at Lamar on Tuesday.
#14– Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns (32-6 Overall, 14-1 Sun Belt)
Louisiana-Lafayette (#13 last week) had a three-game road trip at conference opponent Texas State. The first two games were excellent as they outscored the Bobcats 20-5. DJ Sanders, the NCAA home run leader at 23, had three in the first two games including two grand slams in the second contest. The final game was the blueprint to beating the Ragin’ Cajuns: hold their hitting in check and do not give up home runs. It sounds pretty easy to do, but Louisiana is the best in the NCAA in home runs and runs scored as well as second in slugging percentage.
Louisiana recorded just four hits in the 2-1 loss and DJ Sanders went 0 for 3 with two strikeouts. The Ragin’ Cajuns are still in first in the Sun Belt by 2.5 games and the team in second, Georgia State, is coming to Lamson Park for three games.
#15 – Alabama Crimson Tide (36-9 Overall, 10-7 SEC)
Alabama (#12 last week) drops three spots after going 0-2 against Tennessee. As noted previously, both games were close contests that saw the Tide on the wrong end. Over the two games, Alabama recorded seven hits as both Alexis Osorio (18-5) and Sydney Littlejohn (14-3) took the losses.
The Tide has hit a bit of a swoon against SEC foes the last two weeks. They are 3-5 in their last eight SEC games and the bats have a habit of going silent for a game or two. They step out of SEC competition this week to face Southern Miss on Wednesday. They have a potential NCAA Tournament matchup against Washington at home on Friday and Saturday and then face Samford on Tuesday.
#16 – James Madison Dukes (37-6 Overall, 10-2 Colonial)
James Madison (#18 last week) had a 3-0 week in which they were never close to throwing in a clunker. Over their three-game series at Delaware, the Dukes won by a combined score of 38-4. Megan Good won all three games to improve to 27-1 as Niki Prince went 7 for 8 with 10 RBIs and six runs scored. James Madison has a three-game set at home against North Carolina-Wilmington this weekend.
#17 – Ole Miss Rebels (31-13 Overall, 6-9 SEC)
Ole Miss (listed under “knocking on the door” last week) had an emphatic 4-0 week. They swept LSU at home thanks to strong pitching from Kaitlin Lee and Morgan Bruce. The Rebels were lucky to get the sweep as they hit a walk-off in the bottom of the seventh in the final game that gave them their first sweep of LSU in softball. The Rebels defeated UT-Martin 7-2 on Tuesday. Ole Miss has the difficult task of going on the road for three games to face Florida.
#18 – LSU Tigers (33-12 Overall, 8-7 SEC)
LSU (#16 last week) had a rough week going 1-3 including the aforementioned sweep by Ole Miss. To be fair, all three losses to the Rebels were decided by one run so it is not as if they were completely dominated. The first two games saw Ole Miss win 1-0 each time as LSU had 8 hits over those two. The Tigers had a 2-0 lead in the final game going into the seventh, but a walk-off home run by Alyssa Gonzalez gave the Rebels the sweep.
LSU rebounded on Tuesday to defeat Northwestern State 5-2. The Tigers have Tennessee coming to Baton Rouge this weekend for a three-game series followed by a Tuesday game versus South Alabama.
#19 – Michigan Wolverines (32-9-1 Overall, 12-2 Big 10)
Michigan (#17 last week) played five games in the last week going 4-1. They bookended the week with wins over Michigan State, the first away and the second at home. In between those two games with three games at Maryland. It was those three games that were not easy victories for Michigan against a team that is now 2-10 in the Big 10 and 9-30-1 overall.
Game one was a 5-1 victory, but the Wolverines lost the second game 2-1 as their seventh-inning rally fell short. The third game required another rally, which Michigan completed for the 4-3 win. Maryland has a habit of playing really good teams close and beating them. They have defeated Florida 4-2, Missouri 9-8, and now Michigan 2-1. The Wolverines have a three-game set at Wisconsin this weekend.
#20 – Jacksonville State Gamecocks (32-9 Overall, 11-1 OVC)
Jacksonville State (#20 last week) was able to maintain their standing in the power rankings. They played Austin Peay twice and defeated them 7-0 and 4-3. The latter required them to stave off a seventh-inning rally from APU as well as three of their own errors. This weekend sees a chance to reshape the Ohio Valley Conference standings as they face the second and third place teams (SIU-Edwardsville and Eastern Illinois) at home in doubleheaders.
Knocking on the Door
BYU fell out of the top 20 after being ranked 19th last week. The teams below have some work to do to be one of the top twenty, but could make a jump over the new week or two (in alphabetical order):
Arkansas, Arizona State, BYU, California, Cal Poly, Florida International, Georgia, Kentucky, Marshall, Missouri, North Carolina, Ohio State, SIU Edwardsville, and Texas State.
Below is the Week Six Power Rankings table:
Photo courtesy of University of Tennessee Athletics