Every so often in the music industry, a record enters the Billboard rankings at No. 1. We have just that type of situation this week with the Xcellent 25 National Softball Rankings presented by Army National Guard.
Palm Beach Gardens (Fla.) has emerged as the new No. 1 after a series of arm ailments and upsets knocked the No. 1 candidates out of the picture. The Gators overcame some early skepticism with an impressive win over a highly ranked team, American Heritage, and a string of shutouts to start the season.
The No. 1 fallout began before the season even started as both The Woodlands' Paige McDuffee and Alexander Central's Chelsea Wilkinson, a pair of MaxPreps All-Americans, have been conspicuously absent from the circle after developing arm ailments. While both are expected to return at some point this year (Wilkinson is still playing in the field), their teams have both suffered losses as a result of their missing stars in the circle.
The Woodlands started the season at No. 1, but it gave way to Alexander Central after dropping three games. The Cougars have also since lost and take a drop in the rankings. We're reluctant to drop either team completely out of the rankings until McDuffee and Wilkinson both return and lose a game.
The struggles of The Woodlands and Alexander Central opened the door for Tomball, which got off to a strong start with a win over Pearland and a 12-0 streak. But a loss to Klein Collins on Monday dropped Tomball from contention.
Other teams near the top of the rankings had only a few wins to their credit, thus opening the door for Palm Beach Gardens. We admit we were reluctant to rank Palm Beach Gardens to start the season due to the loss of all-state pitcher Kaylie Wallace. But the Gators have proven themselves more-than-deserving of a Top 25 ranking and a spot at No. 1.
Other teams to drop out of this week's rankings include Gulliver Prep (Miami), American Heritage (Plantation, Fla.), Riverdale (Murfreesboro, Tenn.), Plano (Texas), Los Alamitos (Calif.) and Bonita Vista (Chula Vista, Calif.).
Entering this week's rankings besides the Gators are Alvin (Texas), Woodcreek (Roseville, Calif.), Norco (Calif.), El Diamante (Visalia, Calif.) and Bartow (Fla.).
MaxPreps Xcellent 25 National Softball Rankings presented by the Army National Guard
1. (NR) Palm Beach Gardens (Fla.), 12-0
Despite losing all-state pitcher Kaylie Wallace to graduation, the defending state champion Palm Beach Gardens Gators continue to rack up one impressive win after another. The latest was a 7-0 win over previously undefeated American Heritage (Plantation). The Gators have eight wins by shutout and have only allowed more than one run in a game once this season.
2. (2) Lee-Davis (Mechanicsville, Va.), 0-0
Season opens today vs. Matoaca (Va.).
3. (3) North Davidson (Lexington, N.C.), 2-0
North Davidson knocked off Glenn 14-6 on the road to open the season. Jessica Plemmons
was 3-for-5 with three RBIs and a home run while Paige Wall
was 3-for-5 with a double and three RBIs. The Black Knights followed that win with a 1-0 home victory against Ledford.4. (6) Newton County (Decatur, Miss.), 4-0
The Cougars allowed their first run of the season, but they still downed Enterprise 3-1 to stay undefeated.
had two hits in the win.5. (NR) Alvin (Texas), 20-1
Alvin takes over as the top team in Texas after defeating Pearland 7-3 and having Tomball suffer its first loss of the season to Klein Collins.6. (7) Niceville (Fla.), 14-1
The Eagles began district play with a pair of shutouts, topping Mosley 3-0 and Crestview 10-0. Jessica Ujvari
and Steph Hartness
each homered in the victory for the Eagles.7. (10) Eau Gallie (Melbourne, Fla.), 10-0
Eau Gallie defeated Palm Bay 14-1 with Alex Powers
going 3-for-3 with three doubles. The team will get tested next week in the Bartow Tournament and the following weekend in the Gulliver Prep Tournament.8. (14) Basha (Chandler, Ariz.), 12-0
The Bears remained undefeated with a 12-1 win over Chandler, a 4-2 victory against Mesquite and a 9-1 win over Desert Ridge. Hailee Siroky
had home runs against both Chandler and Mesquite.9. (15) Estrella Foothills (Goodyear, Ariz.), 10-0
The Wolves won their only game of the week, blanking Fountain Hills 11-0. Ashley Godfrey
and Allison Montano
each had two RBIs.10. (NR) Norco (Calif.), 5-0
Norco was unranked in the Southern Section coaches poll to start the season, but is now No. 1 after topping Pacifica 4-0 to claim the Mohave Tournament.
11. (4) Tomball (Texas), 12-1
The Cougars made short work of Klein, winning 10-0 last week behind the pitching of Kandace Patek
, who gave up three hits while striking out five. Tomball also got home runs from Patek and Katie Doerre
. Tomball then lost to Klein Collins in a makeup game on Monday by a 13-8 count for its first loss of the season.12. (12) Pearland (Texas), 19-2
Pearland's 19-game win streak came to an end with a 7-3 loss to Alvin in District 24-5A play. The Oilers had not lost since dropping their season opener to Tomball.13. (NR) Woodcreek (Roseville, Calif.), 7-0
The Timberwolves knocked off Sacramento-area power Sheldon 10-1 last week and also topped defending Florida state champion Gulliver Prep 3-1 to stay undefeated and enter the rankings for the first time.14. (11) Plano East (Plano, Texas), 18-1
Plano East lost a game to Stony Point at the McKinney Tournament but bounced back last week to handle Marcus (Flower Mound) 5-4 and Plano West 3-1.
15. (5) The Woodlands (Texas), 14-3
The Highlanders had a rough week, falling to Pearland 6-1 and Alvin 9-4 in last week's HSSL tournament. The Woodlands tries to regroup with the start of district play.16. (1) Alexander Central (Taylorsville, N.C.), 3-1
Alexander Central played without two-time Gatorade State Player of the Year Chelsea Wilkinson
in the circle and lost its first game of the season, 9-1 to Foard. The Cougars defeated St. Stephens 12-2 in their opener and also knocked off Forbush and Bandys.17. (NR) El Diamante (Visalia, Calif.), 9-0
The Miners have one of California's top pitchers in Sierra Hyland
. She has all nine of El Diamante's wins with 76 strikeouts in 48 innings pitched.18. (16) Walla Walla (Wash.), 0-0
Season opens Tuesday vs. Southridge (Kennewick, Wash.).19. (18) Keystone (La Grange, Ohio), 0-0
Season opens April 3 vs. Edison (Milan, Ohio).
20. (19) Soddy Daisy (Tenn.), 1-0
The Trojans opened their season with a 10-0 win over McMinn County. Tory Denayer
had nine strikeouts in the win while Savannah Moore
drove in two runs.
21. (20) Beech (Hendersonville, Tenn.), 1-0
Beech opened the Nike Gulf Coast Classic with a 10-0 win over Lafayette (Oxford, Miss.). Alex Banks
and Jule Kranz
both had three RBIs in the win.
22. (21) Robbinsville (N.J.), 0-0
Season opens Thursday vs. Monroe Township (N.J.).23. (24) Poland Seminary (Poland, Ohio), 0-0
Season opens April 9 at American Heritage (Delray Beach, Fla.).
24. (NR) Bartow (Fla.), 12-1
Bartow was off to a 12-0 start before falling to Jenkins in conference play last week. Bartow was ranked No. 3 in the state of Florida by Miracle Sports.
25. (25) Carson (Calif.), 6-0
The Colts went 3-0 last week, beating Palos Verdes Peninsula 11-6, Torrance 8-6 and La Salle 7-2. Darian Tautalafua
homered in all three wins, including two against La Salle. She has six home runs on the season and is batting .667 (10 for 15). Darian Tautalafua feature storyDropped out
: No. 8 Gulliver Prep, No. 9 American Heritage, No. 13 Plano, No. 17 Riverdale, No. 22 Los Alamitos, No. 23 Bonita Vista.