Cardinal Softball Ranked Fifth In ESPN.com/USA Softball Preseason Poll

Jan. 25, 2005

Oklahoma City, Okla. - Coming off a runner-up finish at the 2004 National Championship, the California Golden Bears rank No. 1 in the preseason edition of the 2005 ESPN.com /USA Softball Top 25 Collegiate Poll. Set to kick-off the season on February 5 against San Jose State, the pitching duo of Kelly Anderson (Woodland, CA) and Kristina Thorson (Lake Forest Park, WA) are joined by six other starters from the 2004 squad that lost to UCLA 3-1 in the finals of the WCWS. Cal picked up 10 first place votes to capture the top spot over Pac 10 foe Arizona by just six points.

Listed at No. 2, the Wildcats garnered eight first place votes and will have the services of All-American pitcher Alicia Hollowell (Suisun, CA) in the circle and head coach Mike Candrea after a leave of absence to coach Team USA at the Olympic Games. Two-time defending champion UCLA picked up the final two first place votes to rank third in the pre-season.

At No. 4, Oklahoma becomes the only team outside of the Pac 10 to break into the top five. The Sooners return pitching ace Kami Keiter (Arvada, CO) and will have the services of All-American catcher Heather Scaglione (San Diego, CA), All-American Christina Enea (Woodland Hills, CA) and sophomore sensation Norrelle Dickson (Orange, CA). Stanford, a 2004 WCWS contender, becomes the fourth team from the Pac 10 to be ranked in the top five finishing behind Oklahoma.

Despite finishing the 2004 season with a losing record (24-25), the Texas Longhorns enter the 2005 preseason ranked sixth with the return of 2004 Olympian and 2003 USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year Cat Osterman (Houston, TX) in the circle. Louisiana Lafayette, LSU, Washington and Georgia complete the top 10 selections.

No. 23 Texas A&M and No. 24 Southern Illinois are the only two teams not ranked at the end of the 2004 season to enter the preseason poll. Auburn and Hofstra were not among the top 25 preseason list despite finishing the 2004 season ranked 20th and 24th respectively.

By Conference, the Pac 10 leads the way with seven of its eight schools ranked in the Top 25 and five of the seven ranked in the top 10. The Big XII is represented by five schools and has Oklahoma and Texas representing in the Top 10. The SEC has four representatives with two from the East (Georgia and Tennessee) and two from the West (LSU and Alabama). The ACC and Big 10 each have two schools in the preseason poll.The ESPN.com/USA Softball Collegiate Top 25 poll is voted on by NCAA Division I coaches representing 15 different ASA regions and 11 different collegiate conferences. The poll is also voted on by selected softball media members. First-place votes are in parentheses.Log on to www.usasoftball.com for weekly Top 25 Polls and USA Softball `Player of the Week' honors which will begin February 8th. Also follow the `2004 Watch List' for the USA Softball Collegiate `Player of the Year.'

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