Last week, the Pitt softball team got into the college softball rankings for the first time in program history. The Panthers won four games this past weekend against Northwestern and Nebraska and with a 9-0 start to the season, were bumped up several spots in the latest polls.
This week, the softball checks in at No. 19 in the USA Today poll and No. 20 in the ESPN poll. Those polls ranked Pitt No. 24 and No. 25 last week, so they jumped up five spots in each poll.
Of some importance is that Pitt not only moved up several spots but also managed to get a first-place vote in the coaches poll. Yep. First place.
Now, I have no idea if coach Holly Aprile has a vote or not but if so, we might have our source. If it wasn't Aprile, I'd love to know who slotted the Panthers that high. The Pitt article states that one coach from each conference has a vote so it's far from a given that Aprile is that representative, obviously.
Regardless of if it was Aprile or not, this is exactly why I've said for some time that coaches shouldn't be voting in a poll. Outside of inducing some raised eyebrows from outsiders, there's zero incentive to not give your team a favorable ranking and that poll, along with the ESPN poll, is obviously a determining factor in teams getting into the NCAA Tournament and where they are slotted.
That said, I cannot be more clear about this: If it was Aprile who voted the team No. 1, I have absolutely zero problem with it. Just like I would have zero problem with a coach of a team with a terrible record voting their team in the top 25. At the end of the day, a coach's job is to put their team in the best position to succeed as long as it's within the rules. And that success determines the stability of their job. As long as the poll exists, coaches in it using it to their advantage are well within their rights to help not only their teams, but themselves. Some would argue, even, that a coach not using it to his/her advantage isn't fully doing their job.
This weekend, the Panthers will play a combined five games against Southeastern University, Troy, and Lipscomb. Each of those teams have decent records so far but all have at least two losses right now, too, including a few to not-so-great teams. Pitt might not win all five games but the chance of that happening seems quite reasonable.