Jan. 24, 2007
BERKELEY - The California softball team will start the 2007 campaign ranked No. 10 according to the annual USA Today/NFCA Top-25 Preseason poll released on Wednesday.
California was ranked No. 9 in last year's final poll. Defending national champion Arizona earned 23 first-place votes to claim the top spot in poll. Arizona leads a contingent of seven Pac-10 teams ranked in the poll, including six in the Top-10 (UCLA, Arizona State, Oregon State, Stanford, and Cal). The SEC and Big 12 both placed five teams in the rankings, with the SEC placing three squads in the top 10 slots.
The Golden Bears return seven position starters this season, including lone senior Alex Sutton. Sutton posted a .352 batting average last season and ranked second on the team in doubles (12) and RBI (36). Sutton also was announced as one of 50 players on the Amateur Softball Association's Top-50 Preseason Watch List for its sixth annual USA Softball National Collegiate Player of the Year award, earlier in the week.
The 2007 squad also features seven freshmen (Brittany LaRosa, Shannon Houston, Christina Schallig, Marissa Drewrey, Vernae Sevilla, Bernice Masaniai and Taylor Kelley), four juniors (Julie Meyer, Erika Racklin, Jessica Moore, and Katie Vickers) and four sophomores (Lauren Frankiewicz, Morgan Siegel, Carly Winger, and Gina Leomiti).
2006 marked another banner season for the Golden Bears; they finished with a 48-14 mark and an appearance in the NCAA Super Regionals. Although denied an eighth straight trip to the College World Series, head coach Diane Ninemire has guided the Bears to an 855-398 record and 19 straight NCAA Regionals in 19 seasons.
The 2007 California softball schedule has the Golden Bears traveling throughout the country, facing 18 opponents that made postseason appearances in the 2006 season. Of those 18 opponents, 14 finished the season ranked in top-25 national polls (ESPN.com/USA Softball and USA Today/NFCA). The 2007 schedule also includes 15 home games at Levine-Fricke Field, including 11 Pac-10 Conference match-ups.
The Bears will travel to several tournaments, including the Campbell/Carter Classic in San Diego where they open the season against Kansas on Feb. 9. The Bears then return home for their first non-conference home game on Feb. 14 against San Jose State.
2007 USA Today/NFCA Preseason Top-25 Poll
1. Arizona 2. Tennessee 3. UCLA 4. Northwestern 5. Arizona State 6. Oregon State 7. Alabama 8. Stanford 9. LSU 10. California 11. Michigan 12. Washington 13. Texas A&M 14. Georgia 15. Nebraska 16. Oklahoma 17. Texas 18. Baylor 19. Louisiana-Lafayette 20. Louisville 21. Fresno State 22. South Florida 23. Massachusetts 24. Auburn 25. Florida State