CONWAY, Ark. — Two college softball teams in Arkansas are now nationally ranked, one of which you may not expect.

Central Arkansas has made waves since sweeping the Razorbacks in their home-and-home series. Coming off four shutouts last week and on a 12-game win streak, the Bears were moved up to No. 24 in the national poll on Monday, marking the first time UCA has ever been ranked.

“It’s so unreal,” said pitcher Kayla Beaver, who threw a complete game to help UCA blank the Hogs last Tuesday. “It took us a lot to get here, taking a lot of practice, games to win, a lot of hard work and we finally got it. I think it shows a lot of the respect that we earned.”

“Being top 20 in RPI is really meaningful for us because that’s what we’re fighting for,” second-year head coach Jenny Parsons said. “We’ve talked about the expectations to make it to a NCAA regional… to set yourself up with a tough schedule, win some good games, and get in the top 40 or 50 to get an at-large bid. The ranking is just a byproduct of all that work.”

The Bears will look to continue their tear over their final three ASUN weekend series: Hosting Liberty, visiting Jacksonville State, and closing the regular season at Farris Field against Lipscomb. UCA hopes to use their newfound success and national ranking as ways to propel them to not just a conference title, but their first NCAA regional since 2015.

“We’re only going to use it as motivation,” Beavers said. “Use it as a stepping stone to win these next few conference games and head into the conference tournament, finish it off there, and keep on going.”

“We’ve played really good competition and beating Arkansas at Arkansas really gave us a boost,” Parsons said. “Playing them here in front of 2,500 fans was very emotional and a big boost for the rest of the season.”

Watch our story on UCA softball team hitting their stride in historic fashion to learn why the team believes “we can get the job done no matter who we face.”