For the first time in school history, the Oregon softball team can proudly say it’s the No. 1 team in the country, based on the latest rankings released Tuesday morning.
The Ducks received 497 total points and 18 first-place votes while Florida State and Alabama each received a vote for No. 1. Oregon has a 26-point lead on Alabama while UCLA, Michigan and Tennessee round out the top five.
Oregon has attained this honor after starting the season 34-5 and being 8-1 in the incredibly tough Pac-12 conference. Five other Pac-12 teams are ranked in the top 10 with Oregon going 5-1 against those teams.
The Ducks’ rise to No. 1 began when they were ranked No. 8 to start the season. After going 4-1 in the opening weekend, the Ducks fell to No. 10 in the country but then rose all the way up to No. 4 amidst a 15-game winning streak that came to an end after a 2-1 loss to then-No. 1 Florida.
Even after the loss, the Ducks were able to jump to No. 2 in the rankings and for the past three weeks, Oregon has traded slots between No. 2 and No. 3 in the country.
Entering the previous weekend against then-No. 1 UCLA, the then-No. 3 Ducks defeated the Bruins 9-7 in the first game and run-ruled 12-4 in the second game before dropping the series finale 6-1 on Sunday. Those wins coupled with No. 2 Tennessee losing two of three games against unranked LSU over the weekend has allowed the Ducks to jump both the Bruins and Volunteers for the No. 1 ranking.
There was a little controversy in last week’s rankings when the Ducks held the No. 2 spot and were leap-frogged by Tennessee. But while the Ducks swept No. 5 Washington, the Volunteers swept No. 4 Florida in three-game series for each.
The Volunteers and Ducks have played three of the same opponents (Florida, LSU and BYU). The Ducks have gone 2-1 against those teams while the Volunteers are 4-3 against them.
Adding to the good news, Kailee Cuico was named the Pac-12 player of the week on Monday, making her the third Oregon player to receive the honor this year. Cheridan Hawkins is a three-time winner for pitcher of the week while Alexa Peterson has been named player of the week once.
Follow Ryan Kostecka on Twitter @Ryan_Kostecka