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Monday, March 4, 2013
Updated: March 5, 11:15 AM ET
Oklahoma maintains top spot

By Graham Hays

Jackie Traina
Jackie Traina's innings have been limited, but Alabama's star pitcher is likely to see more time in the circle with SEC play on the horizon.

1. Oklahoma (18-1)

Yes, conventional poll wisdom says a loss means a team moves down, but it's not happening here. Oklahoma lost its first game of the season in a 1-0 decision against Nebraska, but it keeps the No. 1 spot because of its overall body of work. Alabama remains perfect on the season (and, you know, won the national championship last season), but there is nothing on the Crimson Tide's résumé this season that matches wins against Arizona, Florida State, Georgia, Kentucky, Nebraska (twice), Oregon, Oregon State, Stanford and Washington. It's a smaller lead for the Sooners, but it's still a lead.

2. Alabama (22-0)

Fret not, Alabama faithful; this team is going to have plenty of time to prove it's exactly as good as its record. That begins this week. After rolling through two games each against Iowa State and St. John's this past weekend, the Crimson Tide play a midweek nonconference game against Florida (one of the teams not part of its conference schedule this season) and opens SEC play with a three-game series against Tennessee. Coach Patrick Murphy has been very judicious with ace Jackie Traina's innings to this point, so it will be interesting to see how many starts she gets in these four games.

3. Florida (22-1)

Drake, Florida A&M, Mount St. Mary's and Presbyterian weren't the most formidable teams to come to town for Florida's second home tournament this season, but the Gators got their wins and can turn their attention to that trip to Tuscaloosa on Wednesday and the opening SEC series at Auburn. Lauren Haeger had a monster weekend at the plate, hitting three home runs and driving in 13 runs in five games. And there is speed, too. With 60 stolen bases in 23 games, Florida is just 16 shy of matching its total for all last season.

4. Arizona State (21-1)

It's difficult to penalize the Sun Devils for a solitary loss against Baylor's Whitney Canion, but they don't have quite as much capital stored away as Oklahoma (playing Binghamton and North Dakota will do that). Shortstop Cheyenne Coyle continues to hit like crazy in her new surroundings. She collected three doubles and a home run and is slugging .911 so far this season. The pitching is going to get much more difficult in the coming weeks, but her 1.488 OPS looks a lot like the figure posted by All-American Katelyn Boyd last season.

5. Texas A&M (22-1)

The Aggies took it on the chin against Michigan for their first loss of the season but did pick up four wins during their time at the Citrus Classic in Florida, including a win against ranked Louisiana-Lafayette. SEC play begins this weekend with a Big 12 flavor in a trip to Missouri. Last season's series against the Tigers was a high point for Texas A&M, which took two of three in games all decided by a single run. That included Mel Dumezich's one-hit shutout over eight innings to get the better of Chelsea Thomas in the finale.

6. Oregon (19-3)

Well, anyone who squeezed Oregon out of the top 10 last week should feel foolish after the Ducks tore through six games in Florida. Glad that didn't happen here. Oops. Oregon reappears after it outscored the opposition 62-12 in the Citrus Classic. Some opponents weren't RPI stalwarts, to be sure, but the routs included a 10-2 win against LSU and a 13-4 win against Michigan. After playing six games in three days last week, the Ducks play just four games in two days this week, with Friday's doubleheader against San Diego State and Fresno State the most challenging.

7. Missouri (9-1)

Missouri didn't schedule any games the opening week of the season and lost the entirety of this past weekend's schedule to weather, so we aren't working with much data. On the plus side, Chelsea Thomas' arm should be well rested for the start of SEC play. An added bonus: Missouri plays 13 of 18 games in March at home.

8. California (15-2)

California allowed runs in three consecutive games this past weekend, the first time that's happened since the first four games of the season, but that's really the only quibble to be found with a 4-0 record in the Easton Invitational in Fullerton, Calif. Lindsey Ziegenhirt continues to have a senior season to remember. The catcher hit three home runs in the weekend's four games, including two against Cal Poly in a game in which she drove in seven runs. San Diego State and Fresno State, on the latter team's home turf, are the challenges this week.

9. UCLA (18-2)

Apologies to the Bruins for the jinx. Immediately after they debuted in the power rankings (and after they had their pitching praises sung), they went out and lost 11-5 to Cal State Fullerton in a midweek game. But UCLA bounced back with five wins in as many games in the San Diego Classic over the weekend. On the final day, Ally Carda hit a home run and drove in three runs against New Mexico and then shut out host San Diego State in the second game. A modest .259 batting average obscures some serious production (six home runs, .611 slugging percentage).

10. Baylor (19-3)

Texas lost to Hofstra and Fordham. LSU lost to Oregon and Louisville (admittedly, hardly weak opponents). Tennessee lost to the College of Charleston. It all leaves room for some new blood in the top 10, and Baylor makes its season debut after finishing a 4-1 weekend in Tempe, Ariz., with a 6-2 win against Arizona State. Baylor proponents are quick to point out, with reason, that playing home games at a pitcher's park like Getterman Stadium in Waco puts the team's power game at an annual disadvantage, but the current group also appears to have a lot more pop than some recent power-starved editions. Freshman Sarah Smith is slugging .745.