Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Fresno State moves up to 20th in both major Top 25 polls

Coach Trisha Ford's unbeaten Fresno State Bulldog softball team is ranked 20th in the country in both major polls out this morning.

The Bulldogs, off to a 10-0 start to a season for the first time in 19 years, rose four spots in the USA Today/NFCA coaches poll this morning to 20th.  They rose from 22nd to 20th in the ESPN.com/USA Softball rankings.

The appearance at No. 20 in the coaches poll is Fresno State's highest ranking in more than six years in that poll.  Exactly six years and one day ago, the Bulldogs were 19th in the NFCA rankings released February 22, 2010.

Fresno State has already defeated Tennessee, which is ranked 14th this week in the NFCA poll, and Utah, which is receiving enough votes to rank just outside the Top 25 at No. 26 in the USA Softball poll.

This week, and the next four weeks, will be full of major tests and marquee opponents for the Bulldogs, who play arguably the best non-conference schedule in the Mountain West, and one of the toughest in the nation.  At the Mary Nutter Classic in Palm Springs this week, Fresno State will meet 12th-ranked Oklahoma and 7th-ranked Oregon in addition to always-strong Big Ten team Northwestern (a team the Bulldogs will face twice in the next three weeks), defending Big West champion Cal State Northridge, and Loyola Marymount.

Upcoming marquee games include two games against No. 9-ranked Washington (9-1), single games versus nationally-ranked Baylor and Cal, as well as matchups against Oregon State (11-1), Long Beach State and Ohio State, which are all receiving votes.  Fresno State also still has remaining games against defending West Coast Conference champion BYU, two against defending Big Sky champion Weber State, Wisconsin, Cal State Fullerton, and Pacific, a team that defeated then-No. 3 ranked LSU in Baton Rouge 10 days ago.

While it will be seemingly impossible for the unbeaten Bulldogs to go unscathed with that type of demanding schedule, the team's RPI should be their best in years.  The first RPI of the season should be released in about three weeks.