Wildcats claim the throne in final week of poll

Arizona kicked Pac-10 rival UCLA out of the top spot in the ESPN.com/USA Softball Collegiate Top 25 after five straight weeks.

Updated: May 17, 2006, 9:20 AM ET
USA Softball

The University of Arizona (44-9) unseated Pac-10 rival UCLA, who had been at No. 1 for five consecutive weeks, to take over the top spot in the final regular season ESPN.com/USA Softball Collegiate Top 25 Poll. With 15 first-place votes and a perfect 4-0 week, the Wildcats head into regional competition on a 10-game winning streak that dates back to April 30.

UCLA (43-7) was dethroned after being swept by No. 7 Stanford (38-15) this weekend. It was an early exit for No. 3 Texas at the Big 12 Championship as the Longhorns went 0-2 with back-to-back losses to Oklahoma State, 2-1, and Texas A&M, 5-0. It was the first time the top seed had lost its opening game and the earliest a top seed has been eliminated in the history of the tournament. Kansas took advantage of the Longhorns' early departure to claim its first Big 12 softball championship in school history. The Jayhawks enter this week's poll at No. 24 after wins over No. 20 Baylor (36-20), Missouri, No. 14 Nebraska (42-10) and a title-clinching win over No. 18 Oklahoma (38-19-1).

Tennessee (53-9) moved into the No. 6 slot after beating No. 10 LSU (51-12), to win the SEC championship. Michigan (40-13) not only won its second straight Big Ten championship, but did it in a dominating fashion, shutting out all three of its opponents, including a 6-0 win over No. 13 Northwestern (42-12) in the championship game. No. 21 North Carolina State (49-19) went 5-1 at the ACC tournament to clinch its first ever ACC championship.

Regional competition in the NCAA softball tournament begins on Thursday at 16 sites, with the winners advancing to the super regional round, held May 26 and 27. ASA Don E. Porter Hall of Fame Stadium in Oklahoma City will once again serve as the host of the Women's College World Series.

Humphreys named Player of the Week
After leading No. 24 Kansas to its first-ever Big 12 title, junior pitcher Kassie Humphreys was selected as the player of the week by the Amateur Softball Association. The Jayhawks (34-24), winners of seven straight games, entered the Big 12 tournament as the No. 6 seed, but after four consecutive wins, they left with their first title.

The Glendale, Ariz., native posted a 0.00 ERA and held opponents to a 0.086 batting average through 22 innings in the tournament. She struck out 25 batters and allowed just six hits in three games, and for her efforts, was named to the all-tournament team.

"It means a great deal to have a second member of the team be named national player of the week. We are really excited for Kassie. She has really bounced back and had a tremendous season," said Kansas head coach Tracy Bunge. "She and Serena Settlemier have really been the sparks to take us where we are now. It's a tremendous honor for Kassie, and I'm just really thrilled for her and our program."

Humphreys went 3-0 in the circle as sixth-seeded KU defeated Baylor, Missouri, Nebraska and Oklahoma to win the conference tournament and earn an automatic bid to the NCAA Regionals. A 2006 All-Big 12 first-team selection, she leads the Jayhawks and ranks second in the Big 12 with a 1.18 ERA and .148 opponent batting average.

"Being national player of the week is so exciting for me and definitely an honor I never thought I'd enjoy," said Humphreys. "I wish there was an award for national team of the week because I really felt like our team at the Big 12 championship was one of the best teams in the nation last week. I'm just glad to be a part of this team."

This is the first USA Softball Player of the Week award for Humphreys.

ESPN.com/USA Softball Collegiate Top 25 Poll
Team (First-Place Votes) Points 2006 Record Last week
1. Arizona (15) 494 44-9 3
2. UCLA (5) 484 43-7 1
3. Texas 446 49-5 2
4. Cal 422 44-11 5
5. Alabama 420 49-9 4
6. Tennessee 398 53-9 8
T7. Arizona State 372 47-13 7
T7. Stanford 372 38-15 9
9. Oregon State 369 38-13 6
10. LSU 305 51-12 11
11. Georgia 296 51-13 10
12. Michigan 288 40-13 13
13. Northwestern 264 42-12 12
14. Nebraska 226 42-10 14
15. Louisiana-Lafayette 211 48-10 15
16. Texas A&M 195 33-17 16
17. Washington 166 32-23 17
18. Oklahoma 148 38-19-1 20
19. Louisville 136 43-9 18
20. Baylor 115 36-20 19
21. North Carolina State 112 49-19 22
22. Fresno State 51 35-17 21
23. North Carolina 43 48-17 23
24. Kansas 37 34-24 UR
25. Auburn 23 34-20 24

Others receiving votes: BYU (20), Notre Dame (19), Florida (12), Georgia Tech (11), San Diego State (11), Utah (9), Southern Illinois (7), Cal State Fullerton (5), Florida State (4), Iowa (4), South Florida (2), Hofstra, Missouri State and Virginia Tech.

For more information, log on to the official site of USA Softball.