Oregon softball ranked No. 1 in country for first time in school history

Three Oregon outfielders celebrate the fly ball catch by outfielder Alyssa Gillespie (9), right, during the top of the third inning. The Oregon Ducks play the UCLA Bruins at Howe Field in Eugene, Ore., on April 5, 2014. (Taylor Wilder/Emerald)

Three Oregon outfielders celebrate the fly ball catch by outfielder Alyssa Gillespie (9), right, during the top of the third inning. The Oregon Ducks play the UCLA Bruins at Howe Field in Eugene, Ore., on April 5, 2014. (Taylor Wilder/Emerald)

Posted by Ryan Kostecka on Tuesday, Apr. 8 at 9:13 am.

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.

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