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March 14, 2012

PLU Ranked 7th in Latest Division III Softball Poll

Pacific Lutheran's two road victories over previously No. 1-ranked and defending national champion Linfield College have gotten the attention of the National Fastpitch Coaches Association (NFCA) Division III ranking committee, which voted PLU seventh in this week's national poll.

Click here to view the poll.

The Lutes, 13-5 this season, went from unranked to seventh in the Division III rankings. Additionally, one of the ranking committee's eight members saw fit to give PLU a first-place vote. The Lutes compiled 138 points in the poll. Linfield saw its record 17 straight weeks atop the poll come to an end. The Wildcats, 12-2, slipped to fourth in the poll with two first-place votes 179 points, with Luther (Iowa) taking the top spot with a 4-0 record, 190 points and three first-place votes. The other two first-place votes went to No. 2 ranked Emory (Ga.).

While Pacific Lutheran has the most losses of any team ranked in the NFCA Division III Top 25, four of its five defeats came to NCAA Division II opponents on its season-opening trip to Hawaii in early February.

Despite finishing with a 31-13 overall record, the 2011 PLU team was unranked throughout the season, though it was listed first in the "others receiving votes" category of the April 27, 2011 poll.

A quick check of the archives shows that the last time a Pacific Lutheran softball team earned a national ranking was in the final poll of the 2003 season when the Lutes were ranked eighth. That PLU team had been ranked No. 1 in the fourth and fifth weeks of the national poll before losing to Central (Iowa) in a regional championship game played on Central's home field in Pella, Iowa. Central went on to win the national title that year.

PLU returns to conference action this weekend with a four-game series against George Fox University in Newberg, Ore. The teams will play a pair of doubleheaders, with first pitch scheduled for noon both Saturday and Sunday.

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