With West Texas taking two-of-three from Angelo State, only Tennessee Wesleyan has the potential to run the gauntlet from preseason to postseason as the top-ranked team. Despite ASU being knocked from the No. 1 position, they’re still undeniably one of the top teams in the nation and on the short-short list of clubs likely to take home the title. Should they rebound and get a little help, they could easily reclaim the top spot in time for the postseason.
Along with the small school Top 25 rankings update this week is a quick look at the top five teams in each of the divisions and their remaining schedule headed into the postseason. Each will be looking to finish with a flourish as they compete for hosting opportunities and top seeds for every advantage to make it to the final round.
1. Colorado Mesa Mavericks
After starting the season ranked third nationally, the Mavs moved up to the second position at the end of February and advanced into the top position this week. CMU went 6-0 last week to improve their overall record to 22-2. Last week’s wins included a combined 38-10 toppling of Adams State in a doubleheader and a sweep of No. 20 MSU Denver. The Mavs next opponent is Regis, who played the Mavs twice the last weekend of March. CMU won both games at home by a 6-3 margin. The series this weekend will be in Denver and will be the last time CMU is scheduled to play a game with a team with a record over .500 during the regular season.
2. Central Missouri Mules
Central Missouri started the season ranked second, but dropped to sixth after only managing a split at home against Davenport. After winning each of their last 19 games, UCM has regained the No. 2 position. Their last two series were both on the road and included a sweep of No. 22 Missouri Southern and Pittsburg State last weekend in which UCM scored 41 runs over three games. The most likely opponent to take a series from the Mules during the remainder of the regular season is Northeastern State. The RiverHawks host them the first week of May.
3. West Texas Buffaloes
After handing Angelo State their first series loss of the season, West Texas jumps from seventh to third in this week’s rankings. The Buffs currently claim a 26-4 record with impressive series wins over Oklahoma Baptist, UT Tyler and the previously-mentioned Rams. Upsets seem unlikely the remainder of the regular season with series against Texas A&M International, Texas A&M Kingsville and St. Edward’s. WT will have to be near perfect and win the Lone Star Conference Championship if they hope to wrestle South Central Regional hosting duties from Colorado Mesa.
4. Tampa Spartans
The Tampa Spartans had their second series of the season postponed last week and have played less than half as many games than the bulk of the teams in the Top 25. Their remaining schedule includes series with Lynn, St. Leo and two with long-time rival Florida Southern. Until the team gets more games under its belt it will be difficult to access the viability of another Tampa title.
5. Angelo State Rams
The Rams fell from first to fifth following their series loss to West Texas, but still remain a legitimate title contender. Their next three series are against teams with a combined 21-57 record, which should allow them to pad their win total. ASU is in the same position as West Texas as they will need to play well down the stretch, win the Lone Star Conference title, and hope someone in the RMAC can steal some wins against Colorado Mesa. With three teams in the top-five, and another pair in the top-20, every advantage possible will be needed to earn the South Central regional title to advance to Cary for the D-II Baseball Championships.
|1||2||Colorado Mesa Mavericks||CO||22-2||6-0|
|2||5||Central Missouri Mules||MO||24-4||3-0|
|3||7||West Texas A&M Buffs||TX||26-4||2-1|
|5||1||Angelo State Rams||TX||21-5||1-2|
|6||4||Mount Olive Trojans||NC||25-6||1-0|
|7||6||North Greenville Crusaders||SC||23-6||2-0|
|10||10||Minnesota State Mavericks||MN||18-4||3-2|
|12||13||UNC Pembroke Braves||NC||24-6||2-1|
|13||12||Azusa Pacific Cougars||CA||18-6||1-2|
|14||15||Texas Tyler Patriots||TX||21-8||3-0|
|15||16||West Florida Argos||FL||24-7||2-1|
|16||18||Illinois Springfield Prairie Stars||IL||21-3||3-1|
|17||14||Southern Arkansas Muleriders||AR||19-8||2-2|
|18||19||Columbus St. Cougars||GA||18-9||4-1|
|19||20||North Georgia Nighthawks||GA||24-9||4-0|
|21||17||Metro State Roadrunners||CO||21-7||0-4|
|22||24||Missouri Southern St. Lions||MO||21-6||3-0|
|23||23||Charleston Golden Eagles||WV||21-3||4-0|
|25||25||Seton Hill Griffins||PA||12-0||0-0|
Dropped Out: No. 22 Millersville
1. Tennessee Wesleyan Bulldogs
Despite there being a number of excellent programs this season, the Tennessee Wesleyan Bulldogs unquestionably remain the team to beat. Last week they outscored previously-ranked Freed-Hardeman and Union College by a combined score of 54-7. Additionally, at the time this is being written, TWU is finishing up a 19-0 shellacking of seventh-ranked Georgia Gwinnett in which the Bulldogs had as many home runs (five) as the Grizzlies had hits. Despite having a starting schedule filled with ranked opposition, the remainder of the year features no schools currently positioned in the Top 25; however, for what it’s worth, the only setbacks suffered so far this season by TWU were to unranked teams. The best bet for a team to usurp the Bulldogs for the remainder of the year may be this weekend when they play a very good St. Andrew’s team on the road. Nevertheless, it will require a huge breakdown for Tennessee Wesleyan to not enter the postseason as the top ranked team.
2. Southeastern Fire
In any other season the results which SEU have had on the field would earn them the designation of the top team in the NAIA, however they’re stuck behind the TWU juggernaut. Regardless, whether they finished the regular season ranked first, second or anywhere in the top-10 they’re sure to earn hosting duties for the postseason and are a favorite to return to Lewiston. Last week the Fire did suffer a loss, only their fourth on the year, but it was only by a single run on the road (their only time playing outside of Florida this season) to a respectable USCB team. After facing Florida Memorial this weekend, the Fire have a road series with No. 24 St. Thomas, which would be their most likely opportunity to drop from the top-five. The Bobcats were positioned fourth in the preseason rankings and are undoubtedly better than their 26-16 record demonstrates.
3. Cumberlands Patriots
The Patriots started the season ranked ninth, but quickly jumped into the top-five after earning wins over St. Thomas, Bryan and Georgia Gwinnett – three teams which have spent the entirety of the spring in the Top 25 – the first weekend of the season. Last week the Pats had a midweek win over Midway and a pair of close wins in a Sunday doubleheader against previously-ranked Campbellsville. Cumberlands closes the regular season with series against Thomas More and Shawnee State, a pair of good, but not great teams, who could steal an unlikely win. Bryan Leef is having a spectacular season which has been a bit overshadowed by the slugging of TWU’s Gary Matthis, Wayland Baptist’s Luis Vargas and Dylan Jacob of St. Katherine. The California transplant is batting .400 with 18 home runs to power the offense.
4. Faulkner Eagles
The Eagles rebounded from their sole series loss the previous weekend to earn two wins over Columbia International and three lopsided victories over Stillman. The second win versus Stillman was Patrick McCarthy’s 700th career win. The victories increased their record to 23-4 overall with two important series still left to play. Despite their fourth ranking nationally, the Eagles are incredibly currently positioned fourth in the Southern States Athletic Conference standings as well. That should change with series against previously-ranked Mobile and No. 13 Middle Georgia State. With wins over the Rams and Knights, as well as a road series at Blue Mountain College, Faulkner should solidify their standing and earn the opportunity to host the first round of the national NAIA tournament.
5. Central Methodist Eagles
The Eagles made the move into the top-five this week following their series sweep over William Penn. At 31-4, with wins over No. 8 USAO, No. 11 Indiana Southeast and Bellevue, Indiana Tech and Lyon, who each spent time in the Top 25, the Eagles have demonstrated that they are a legitimate title contender. They do have strong competition to close the season with a series over Benedictine and a midweek match up with Columbia, but the Eagles should handle each, as well as Baker to complete their scheduled slate. Should the Eagles continue their winning ways they should challenge the 2016 edition of the club for the most wins in school history, as well as easily set a new school standard for highest winning percentage.
|1||1||Tennessee Wesleyan Bulldogs||TN||35-3||5-0|
|5||8||Central Methodist Eagles||MO||28-4||2-0|
|6||9||Oklahoma Wesleyan Eagles||OK||31-3||4-0|
|7||4||Georgia Gwinnett Grizzlies||GA||29-8||3-1|
|9||10||Lewis-Clark State Warriors||ID||30-2||4-0|
|11||11||Indiana Southeast Grenadiers||IN||28-12||4-1|
|13||13||Middle Georgia State Knights||GA||27-10||4-0|
|15||15||Benedicine Mesa Redhawks||AZ||20-7||5-0|
|17||19||Oklahoma City Stars||OK||23-12||4-1|
|19||25||LSU Shreveport Pilots||LA||21-11||4-0|
|20||18||Hope International Royals||CA||24-12||2-2|
|24||23||St. Thomas Bobcats||FL||26-16||2-2|
|25||22||William Carey Crusaders||MS||21-10||2-3|
Dropped Out: No. 24 Mobile
1. Washington Bears
The Bears continue to edge Webster as the top team in D-III, but the already slim distance between the club is even smaller after the two schools traded wins on Sunday. The two St. Louis-based clubs were supposed to have played four games last weekend, but the first paid were cancelled due to weather. The Bears and Gorlocks have now played three games this season, with each team winning one outright and WashU taking the other in extra innings. To further demonstrate how tight the pair are, two of their three games were decided by one run. Regardless, WashU has the season series edge two games to one with additional substantive wins over North Central and Aurora. Any of the top-five could take over the top spot this weekend if Washington is unable to dispatch a wiley Spalding team, who could reenter the rankings with a strong showing against D-III’s top team.
2. Webster Gorlocks
The Gorlocks started the season, as well as 2020, as the top team in the Perfect Game D-III rankings, but lost the spot this year after losing an extra-inning contest to WashU. Webster should have little trouble earning wins this weekend at Greenville as the Panthers are struggling at 4-17. After that they’ll face Fontbonne and a surprisingly-good Millikin team that is putting together one of their best season’s in school history. With the Gorlocks on the heels of the Bears, a series of Webster wins could reclaim the No. 1 position if WashU falters – it truly is a coin-flip determination in choosing which team is the superior club.
3. Randolph-Macon Yellow Jackets
Except for a brief blip a couple of weeks ago, Randolph-Macon has spent the entire season as the No. 3 team in the Perfect Game D-III rankings. Last weekend they solidified their position as one of the elite when they traded wins with No. 10 Shenandoah. Despite their solid season to date, maintaining a spot in the top-five could be in jeopardy with a midweek game against Lynchrug, who is having their best season in nearly a decade, as well as a pair of upcoming contests against a strong Roanoke club. RMC will definitely keep their feet on the gas to close the season as they are well aware that each game can be a difference maker. They will want to avoid another letdown such as in 2019 when they were left out of the NCAA postseason despite a 28-10-1 record.
4. Trinity Tigers
The Tigers were strong favorites to continue their winning ways and make a claim for the number one spot in the rankings, but were stymied by Schreiner in extra innings. It was just the second loss for the season for the 2016 National Champions. They will close out the regular season with a daunting row of challengers, which includes Concordia (Texas) and Texas Lutheran, two teams which had been ranked previously, as well as Centenary (La.), a school which had won 18 games in a row. This upcoming weekend should be relatively easy, however, as they host the Dallas Crusaders, who have a 6-15 record headed into the series.
5. Wisconsin Whitewater Warhawks
The Warhawks have advanced to the D-III World Series five times in school history and appear to be headed for their sixth. They’ve outscored opposition 139-50 this season with an extremely aggressive offense which is averaging close to four extra-base hits per game and stole 38 bases in 15 contests. UWW has scored at least nine runs in eight of their 13 wins and the pitching staff has shut out opposition three times. The Warhawks’ remaining schedule includes nine games against a pair of teams that have a combined 0-29 record, so continuing to earn wins shouldn’t be a problem. The best bet to give them trouble will be next week when they play six games against WIAC rival UW-Steven’s Point, but UWW can already claim two wins over UWSP so far this season.
|3||3||Randolph-Macon Yellow Jackets||VA||15-4||3-1|
|7||8||Cal Lutheran Kingsmen||CA||1-Feb||2-1|
|8||9||North Central Cardinals||IL||15-5||4-0|
|9||10||North Carolina Wesleyan Battling Bishops||NC||23-3||3-0|
|12||15||Cortland State Red Dragons||NY||11-3||4-0|
|16||6||Southern Maine Huskies||ME||11-6||11-3|
|21||21*||Washington & Jefferson Presidents||PA||20-0||6-0|
|22||21*||Johns Hopkins Blue Jays||MD||5-3||2-0|