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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

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Though it fell short in last season’s run for the national title, the Arizona softball team is ranked the preseason No. 1 in the ESPN.com/USA Softball Collegiate poll.

The Wildcats were runners-up to UCLA in the 2010 Women’s College World Series in Oklahoma City, in June.

This marks the first time Arizona, who finished last season 52-13, has been in the No. 1 spot since the 2008 season. The Wildcats received 488 votes and nine first place votes while the Bruins received 462 votes, including 10 first place votes.

In the battle for conference supremacy, the Pacific 10 Conference still rules the poles. ASU and UCLA join Arizona in the top ten, while No. 11 Washington, No. 12 California, No. 14 Oregon and No. 18 Stanford round out the Pac-10’s presence in the Top 25. Only five Southeastern Conference schools made the preseason pole.

The first regular-season poll will be released on Feb. 15, after the regular season starts.

The 2011 Wildcats are led by sophomore ace Kenzie Fowler and newcomer pitcher Shelby Babcock, who will reportedly split time with Fowler. Arizona is returning 15 players to its bench, eight of which are returning starters.

The battle for shortstop is still up for grabs. Head coach Mike Candrea said the spot might be taken by one of the five incoming freshmen.

Arizona’s RPI also ranks high nationally, sliding in at No. 4 behind Alabama and fellow Pac-10 teams Washington and UCLA.

Arizona’s season begins at the Kajikawa Classic in Tempe on Feb. 10.

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