Valdosta Daily Times

Local Sports

April 12, 2012

Blazers remain No. 1 in nation, top region rankings

VALDOSTA — For the third consecutive week, the Valdosta State Blazers softball team is the nation’s best team.

The Blazers topped the newest NFCA Division II Coaches Poll, released on Wednesday, by receiving 15 first place votes.

The University of Indianapolis was the only other school receiving votes. The Greyhounds tallied just one first place vote.

The Blazers went 6-0 last week, including sweeps of North Alabama and Alabama-Huntsville. VSU’s game one victory over North Alabama on Friday set the Gulf South Conference record for longest winning streak, setting the mark at 28 games. VSU has since increased the winning streak to 31 games. Overall, the Blazers are 37-2 on the season, and will visit West Alabama and West Florida this weekend.

The Blazers are also ranked No. 1 in the South Region standings, which were released Wednesday for the first time this season. Tampa (31-5) is second in the region standings, followed by Rollins (29-7). Barry (31-8), one of the two teams to beat the top-ranked Blazers this season — and the only team in the region — is ranked third, followed by defending region champion Alabama-Huntsville (27-12), West Alabama (23-15), West Florida (26-17) and Florida Southern (17-10).

So far this season, VSU has played against five of the seven schools in the top eight of the region standings, going 8-1 in the nine games played this season. The Blazers beat Tampa 4-1 on Feb. 19.

Nova Southeastern (19-19) and North Alabama (17-16) are ranked ninth and 10th, respectively. The Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference did not have a member school represented in the top 10 of the region standings, but the conference champion will receive an invitation to the region tournament at the end of the regular season. The member school would represent the eighth seed in the final region standings.

If the region tournament were to start this weekend, Valdosta State and Tampa would serve as the two host schools. The Blazers would face the SIAC champion (who would replace Florida Southern in the current standings), while Barry and Alabama-Huntsville would also meet in Valdosta for the double-elimination tournament.

Tampa would face West Florida in the opening round, while West Alabama would play against Rollins.

The two winners of the respective region tournaments would meet in the Super Regional tournament on the following weekend in a best two-of-three series. The games would be played at the stadium of the higher-ranked team.

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