The defending national champion Bruins will enter the 2011 season just as they left the 2010 campaign, as UCLA is ranked No. 1 in the preseason USA Today/NFCA Top 25 poll. The Bruins received 738 points and 27 of the 30 first-place votes.
The Bruins are one of seven Pac-10 teams ranked in the preseason poll. Arizona is second, followed by Washington (10), California (12), Arizona State (13), Oregon (14) and Stanford (20). UCLA also faces five other teams in the Top 25, Tennessee (4), Florida (5), Oklahoma (9), BYU (16) and Ohio State (22).
The Bruins were ranked second in the preseason ESPN.com/USA Softball Collegiate Top 25 poll, earning the most first-place votes with 10 as well as 462 points.
UCLA opens its title defense on Friday, Feb. 11, hosting the Stacy Winsberg Memorial Tournament.
UCLA BASEBALL RANKED NO. 1 IN USA TODAY/ESPN COACHES' PRESEASON POLL
Bruins to open season ranked as preseason No. 1 team in coaches' poll
McLEAN, Va. – UCLA has been ranked No. 1 in the USA Today/ESPN Top 25 Coaches' Preseason Poll, as announced on Thursday afternoon. Earlier that morning, the Bruins were listed No. 2 in Baseball America's preseason top-25 poll.
UCLA was the runner-up to national champion South Carolina at last season's College World Series. The Bruins went 51-17 overall, posting their highest single-season win total in school history.
The coaches' poll features TCU, Florida, Vanderbilt and Clemson rounding out its top five selections, respectively. No. 1 UCLA and No. 2 TCU each collected nine first-place votes, while No. 3 Florida secured seven votes, No. 8 South Carolina tallied five and No. 4 Vanderbilt earned one. The remaining top 10 spots include, in order, Oklahoma, Texas, South Carolina, Cal State Fullerton and Oregon. UCLA defeated Florida once and TCU twice at the 2010 College World Series to advance to the best-of-three championship round.
In addition to the USA Today/ESPN and Baseball America polls, the Bruins have been ranked No. 3 in Collegiate Baseball's preseason top-40 poll, the weekly baseball newspaper announced last month.
UCLA is one of five Pac-10 programs ranked in the preseason coaches' poll (No. 10 Oregon, No. 12 Arizona State, No. 16 Stanford, No. 25 Arizona). Last year, a record eight Pac-10 programs advanced to NCAA Regionals.
The Bruins return 20 letterwinners from last season after having advanced to the finals of the College World Series for the first time in program history. UCLA's pitching staff will be anchored by juniors Trevor Bauer and Gerrit Cole, both who have pitched in the weekend rotation as freshmen and sophomores.
Six position players who started at least 40 ballgames in 2010 are expected to play key roles in 2011 – sophomore outfielders Beau Amaral and Cody Keefer, junior infielders Dean Espy and Tyler Rahmatulla, sophomore infielder Cody Regis and junior catcher Steve Rodriguez. Other key returners include senior outfielder Chris Giovinazzo and sophomore outfielder Jeff Gelalich.
Last season, UCLA opened the year ranked in three of the five major college baseball polls (No. 20 by Collegiate Baseball, No. 23 by Baseball America and No. 27 by the NCBWA; unranked by Yahoo! Sports/Rivals.com and ESPN/USA Today Coaches' Poll). UCLA finished 2010 ranked No. 2 by all five polls.
UCLA opens this season with a three-game series against San Francisco on Friday, Feb. 18. Game time at Jackie Robinson Stadium is 6 p.m. Single-game tickets cost $7 for adults and $5 for children.
2011 USA Today/ESPN Top-25 Coaches' Poll
Rank Team 2010 Record Votes (1st-Place Votes)
1 UCLA 51-17 741 (9)
2 TCU 54-14 728 (9)
3 Florida 47-17 709 (7)
4 Vanderbilt 46-20 593 (1)
5 Clemson 45-25 592
6 Oklahoma 50-18 587
7 Texas 50-13 577
8 South Carolina 54-16 564 (5)
9 Cal State Fullerton 46-18 449
10 Oregon 40-24 402
11 Florida State 48-20 401
12 Arizona State 52-10 372
13 Texas A&M 43-21-1 371
14 Virginia 51-14 369
15 LSU 41-22 278
16 Stanford 31-25 277
17 Rice 40-23 261
18 Miami 43-20 249
19 Georgia Tech 47-15 214
20 Coastal Carolina 55-10 210
21 Louisville 50-14 178
22 Connecticut 48-16 156
23 Auburn 43-21 128
24 Arkansas 43-21 113
25 Arizona 34-24 110