Stanford Ranked Seventh In USA Today/NFCA Division 1 Preseason Poll

Jan. 25, 2006

The Michigan Wolverines begin 2006 where they left off in 2005, on top of the USA Today/NFCA Top 25 poll. The Wolverines pulled in 21 first-place votes to top the preseason ranking.

The Wolverines return eight starters, including pitcher Jennie Ritter along with WCWS Most Outstanding Player Samantha Findlay and Tiffany Haas, from last year's squad that knocked off UCLA to claim the school's first softball national title. The Wolverines are only the second non-Pac 10 team to claim the top spot (Fresno State in 1999) in the preseason poll.

The Bruins enter the 2006 campaign following right behind in second. UCLA garnered eight first-place nods with nine starters returning from 2005's national runner-up squad. The Bruins have been ranked in the top three each year of the poll with the exception of 1998 when they started the season at No. 17.

Tennessee, who advanced a game away from the championship game at the WCWS, comes in third behind the return of Louisville Slugger/NFCA First-Team All-Americans Monica Abbott and Sarah Fekete.. Texas follows in fourth, looking for a repeat trip to Oklahoma City with first-team all-American and two-time collegiate player of the year Cat Osterman.

Arizona begins the 2006 campaign in the No. 5 spot with all-Americans Caitlin Lowe, Alicia Hollowell and Kristie Fox returning, while Alabama follows at No. 6 with second-team all-American Stephanie VanBrakle back in the circle.

Stanford moves up three places from the final 2005 poll to No. 7, while fellow Pac-10 foe California comes in at No. 8. Texas A&M and Georgia round out the top 10.

Big 12 teams make up the next two spots in the poll, with Baylor at No. 11 followed by Oklahoma in the No. 12 position. Washington comes in at No. 13, while 2005 WCWS participant DePaul ranks 14th.

Oregon State starts the season at No. 15, while super regional participant Northwestern earns its first preseason ranking at No. 16. Auburn, another team in the preseason poll for the first time, comes in at No. 17. Louisiana-Lafayette follows at No. 18, and Florida, the only team not in the final 2005 poll, comes in at No. 19. Fresno State rounds out the top 20.

Nebraska starts the campaign in the 21st spot, while Oregon follows at No. 22. Missouri, Iowa and Georgia Tech round out the top 25.

The USA Today/NFCA Division I Top 25 poll is voted on by 30 NCAA Division I coaches, representing each conference.

Courtesy of NFCA

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