Cardinal Softball Ranked Sixth In USA Today/NFCA Preseason Poll

Jan. 26, 2005

California, which only lost one player from last year's national runner-up team, is ranked No. 1 in the USA Today/NFCA Preseason Top 25 poll released Wednesday by the National Fastpitch Coaches Association.

The Golden Bears return eight position players and all three pitchers from a season ago, including All-American pitcher Kristina Thorson. Thorson was 28-4 last season and compiled a 0.87 ERA while striking out 232 batters.

At the plate, Cal returns four key seniors including Vicky Galindo. Galindo led the Bears with a .374 batting average last season. She also hit seven home runs and stole 23 bases.

Caitlin Benyi, who hit 24 home runs last season, returns for two-time defending national champion UCLA, who begins the season ranked No. 2. The Bruins received 12 first place votes in the preseason tally, just short of California's total of 14.

Arizona, who missed the Women's College World Series a year ago despite being ranked No. 1 much of the season, received four first place votes and is ranked third.

Women's College World Series participants Oklahoma, LSU and Stanford are ranked No. 4 through No. 6, respectively.

Georgia returns a trio of pitchers and is ranked seventh in the preseason poll. The Bulldogs are followed by defending Big Ten champion Michigan, and a pair of 60-game winners in Louisiana-Lafayette and Florida State.

Washington is ranked No. 11, followed by Alabama, Oregon and Tennessee.

Texas checks in at No. 15, and is the only team in the poll that was not in the final 2004 rankings. The Longhorns return pitcher Cat Osterman, who took a year off to pitch for the United States in the 2004 Olympic Games.

Oregon State is No. 16, followed by a pair of Big XII schools in Baylor and Nebraska. Fresno State returns Christina Clark and Jamie Southern and debuts at No. 19. Long Beach State closes out the top 20.

South Florida, Illinois, Georgia Tech, Southern Illinois and Hofstra are the last five ranked teams.

The USA Today/NFCA Division I Top 25 poll is voted on by 30 NCAA Division I coaches, representing each conference. The first regular season poll will be released on Wednesday, Feb. 16.

courtesy of NFCA

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