A pair of big wins at the Broken Arrow Tournament over the weekend gave the Grove Lady Ridgerunners a surprise on Tuesday.
Grove is ranked number one among Class 5A softball teams in the season's first okrankings.com poll released on Tuesday. The poll is voted on by the state's softball coaches.
"It's good that other people recognize where we're at," Grove head coach Jeremy Collins said Tuesday. "I didn't expect it. It's good to be recognized."
The Lady Red received 320 points, five ahead of defending state champion Midwest City Carl Albert. Coweta, Tahlequah and McAlester, all of whom reached the state tournament last season, round out the top five.
The poll is a close one, with fifth place McAlester getting 286 points.
The Lady Red defeated the Jenks Lady Trojans on Friday of the BA Tournament by a score of 2-1 in eight innings. The loss is the only one in 11 games for the Lady Trojans this season, who are ranked second behind an 11-0 Union squad in 6A.
Grove also defeated Coweta 2-0 in their final game of the tournament. After Monday's blowout at Miami, the Lady Red are 8-2 on the season.
The poll represents the culmination of the rebirth of Grove softball. The program won state in both 1996 and 2000, but Collins took over a program that had gone 14-20 in 2009, their first season in 5A.
Last season Grove went 31-8, reaching the state semifinals in Collins' first season as head coach. It was the first time Grove had reached the state tournament since 2006. Now, a team that had been the hunters is now the hunted.
"It's a different situation than what we've been in before," Collins said.
The poll is largely symbolic now in Classes 5A and 6A. Beginning this season, a district system identical to the one used in football is now used to determine postseason seedings and pairings. Grove's district includes Tahlequah as well as eighth-ranked Pryor, who the Lady Red will take on Thursday.
"In the scheme of things, it doesn't mean anything," Collins said. "It's early on and the districts are now what really count."
Still, Collins admits the number one ranking is a nice recognition of how far the program has come in a short amount of time.
"The kids have put in the time for years and it's good for them to be recognized."
The Lady Red will travel to Pryor on Thursday with the first pitch scheduled for 5 p.m.
Wyandotte cracks top-10 in 2A
The Wyandotte Lady Bears have ridden a hot start to the number 10 ranking in Class 2A.
Head coach John Leppla and his Lady Bears are 10-2 on the season after Monday's 15-1 win over Fairland and Tuesday's 12-5 win over Oaks. Earlier in the month Wyandotte stormed to the title at the Quapaw Tournament, winning four games by a margin of 36-14.
In Classes 4A and below, the okrankings.com poll is still used to determine playoff seedings. Teams in the top eight in the poll at season's end usually get to host the regional tournaments from which teams advance to the state tournament.
The Lady Bears' only losses on the season are to 3A squads Kansas (9-4) and Adair (7-3). Wyandotte will get another shot at the Lady Comets on Thursday in Wyandotte before taking on Inola and Oktaha at the Inola Festival on Friday.