June 14, 2006
STARKVILLE, Miss. - Another magical run through the Women.s College World Series has secured the Tennessee Lady Vol softball team (61-12) a final ranking of No. 3 in the last USA Today/National Fastpitch Coaches Association (NFCA) poll release of the 2006 season. On their way to finishing third in Oklahoma City, Okla., the Big Orange registered a nation-best 61 victories and led NCAA Division I in batting average by hitting .342 overall.
No surprise at the top of the list as 2006 national champion Arizona (54-11) was tabbed as the unanimous choice for No. 1 after sweeping a pair of match-ups from Northwestern in the WCWS Championship Series. The surprising NU Wildcats (50-15) jumped nine spots from No. 11, in the previous poll issued, into the second spot. The Lady Vols sit third with former No. 1 UCLA (50-9) completing its campaign at fourth after topping the poll during the previous five releases. Texas (55-9) went 1-2 at the WCWS to drop three spots and round out the top five schools at No. 5.
Arizona State (53-15) finishes sixth and Alabama (54-11) seventh in the final listing, while Pac-10 schools Oregon State (43-16) and California (48-14) hold down positions eight and nine, respectively. Michigan (44-15) ended defense of its 2005 title at No. 10 following a best two-of-three NCAA Super Regional defeat in Knoxville to Tennessee.
Impressively, the Lady Vols tallied at least one victory over six of the other nine schools in the final NFCA Top-10. The Orange & White took a pair of contests from Michigan (5-3, 1-0) in the Super Regionals, bested Alabama in the SEC Tournament semifinals (2-1) and downed Northwestern in tournament play at the Worth Invitational in Fullerton, Calif., (3-2). At the WCWS Tennessee opened play by upsetting then No. 1 UCLA (4-3), defeated Arizona State (3-1, 9 inn.) and forced an "if necessary" game against Arizona by taking game one from the Wildcats (1-0). UT did not face Texas, Oregon State or California during the 2006 campaign.
Other SEC schools in the final rankings include: LSU (No. 11), Georgia (No. 13) and Auburn (No. 21). Florida received votes but failed to crack the Top 25.
USA Today/NFCA Division I Top 25 Poll - Final Poll
The USA Today/NFCA Division I Top 25 Poll is voted on by NCAA Division I head coaches representing each conference. Records are as of June 7. First-place votes are in parenthesis.
Others receiving votes:
N.C. State 75, North Carolina 40, San Diego State 19, Florida 10, Kansas 8, Georgia Tech 5, Notre Dame 5. Two others received votes but appeared on only one ballot.
No. 22 North Carolina, No. 23 N.C. State.