California Tabbed No. 1 in Preseason ESPN.com/USA Softball Poll

Jan. 25, 2005

BERKELEY -

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Having appeared in three consecutive Women's College World Series championship games and returning eight starters from last season's WCWS runner-up squad, the California softball team was voted No. 1 in the initial ESPN.com/USA Softball Top 25 poll, released Tuesday.

The Bears (53-13 in 2004) garnered 487 points and 10 first-place votes to edge out No. 2 Arizona (55-6), which collected 481 points and eight first-place votes. Two-time defending WCWS champion UCLA (47-9) was third (457, 2). Rounding out the Top 5 are Oklahoma (45-22-1, 411 points) and Stanford (49-19, 357).

'I'm happy for our players that they're finally getting the recognition they deserve,' said Cal head coach Diane Ninemire, whose Bears are preseason No. 1 for the first time in school history. 'It's all great, but a poll is just a poll. Now we have to go out there and earn it.'

The Bears feature four returning All-Americans in senior third baseman Vicky Galindo, senior centerfielder Kaleo Eldredge, junior pitcher Kristina Thorson and senior shortstop Chelsea Spencer. Additionally, the Cal lineup sports eight returning All-Pac-10 picks, including senior leftfielder Lindsay James, senior pitcher Kelly Anderson, senior second baseman Jessica Pamanian and junior catcher Haley Woods.

Testifying to the power of the Pac-10, four of Cal's conference foes were voted into the Top 5. Overall, the Pac-10 saw seven of its eight institutions ranked in the Top 25.

'It's still the toughest conference to go against and I think it speaks to the parity of the teams,' Ninemire said. 'I think you're seeing, with the close vote, that anyone can beat anyone on a given day. It will be a very close run to the national championship.'

The ESPN.com/USA Softball Collegiate Top-25 poll is voted on by NCAA Division I coaches representing 15 ASA regions and 11 collegiate conferences. The poll is also voted on by selected softball media members.

The Golden Bears open the 2005 season against San Jose State on Feb. 5. First pitch at Levine-Fricke in Berkeley is scheduled for 12 noon. Pac-10 play gets underway April 1 when Cal visits Arizona State.

2005 ESPN.com/USA Softball Preseason Poll

School (First Place Votes) Points 2004 Record1. California (10) 487 53-132. Arizona (8) 481 55-63. UCLA (2) 457 47-94. Oklahoma 411 45-22-15. Stanford 357 49-196. Texas 341 24-257. Louisiana-Lafayette 328 60-88. LSU 324 57-129. Washington 319 40-1910. Georgia 317 55-1711. Florida State 310 62-1212. Michigan 308 54-1313. Tennessee 280 54-1314. Oregon 260 42-2115. Alabama 248 45-2016. Oregon State 172 44-2817. Fresno State 170 48-2018. Baylor 154 48-1719. Long Beach State 126 51-1320. Nebraska 105 45-1721. Georgia Tech 96 47-1922. South Florida 84 60-14T-23. Texas A&M 43 33-22T-23. Southern Illinois 43 45-1725. Illinois 38 45-20-1

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