Feb. 28, 2007
By Matt Crouch
STARKVILLE, Miss. - For the first time this season, the Southern Illinois University softball team finds itself ranked in both of the major top 25 polls. The Salukis earned 145 points to come in at No. 20 in the nation in Wednesday's USA Today / NFCA Top 25 Coaches Poll.
The ranking ties an all-time best for the Salukis. SIU has been ranked No. 20 on three other occasions, but only once before in the USA Today / NFCA poll.
Southern came in at No. 20 in the May 3, 2005 ESPN.com / USA Softball poll and remained there for one more week. In the May 11, 2005 USA Today / NFCA poll, the Salukis matched up with the other poll, coming in at No. 20.
This week's poll marks the second week this season that SIU has been ranked in the USA Today / NFCA poll. The Salukis entered the poll last week at No. 24.
After the release of Tuesday's ESPN.com / USA Softball poll, SIU is ranked in both national polls for the first time since April 18-19, 2006. It is only the sixth time in school history that SIU has held top-25 rankings in both polls.
The move from No. 24 to No. 20 comes after the Salukis went 4-1 at last weekend's prestigious NFCA Leadoff Classic in Columbus, Ga. SIU opened the tournament with a 3-2 win over ACC member North Carolina before taking down perennial Colonial Athletic Association powerhouse Hofstra, 1-0.
The Salukis came back for a 3-2 nine-inning win over Auburn before falling to No. 13-ranked Michigan, 2-0.
In the final day of the tournament, playing in the Silver Bracket, SIU took down No. 19 Florida State, 4-1.
The Saluki softball team returns to action March 3-4 as the team hosts the Kay Brechtelsbauer Southern Classic. Western Illinois, Ball State, Indiana and Ohio will all be in attendance at the two-day tournament.
Play is scheduled to begin at 10 a.m., Saturday March 3 at SIU's Charlotte West Stadium.