Last week was the first in which games from each of the three small-school divisions were played this season. While the NAIA is playing games full bore (Arizona Christian has somehow astonishingly managed to play 25 games already), their NCAA counterparts are still slipping slowly into the new season. Consequently, there still isn’t much overall movement in either of the three rankings. Each of the pole-sitters are firmly entrenched, especially in the NAIA and D-II where Tennessee Wesleyan and Angelo State are annihilating competition. Expect that trend to continue for at least one more week before the action heats up across the country.
In regards to the highest-ranked clubs, top-rated Tennessee Wesleyan had another strong weekend with a convincing series sweep of previously 19th-ranked Indiana Tech. In the three-game series, TWC outscored the Warriors 28-2 with the middle game being a 17-0 rout. Despite being mauled, Tech only dropped one spot in the rankings as it was their first series of the season and were facing the juggernaut Bulldog club on the road in Athens, Tenn.
Despite having their 39-game regular season win streak broken by Warner, Southeastern moved up to the No. 2 position which was vacated by USAO. The Fire were 14-1 through the weekend and would be playing their annual exhibition game with the Detroit Tigers this week if it wasn’t for COVID. Look for SEU to start compiling wins once again with an upcoming schedule thick with northern-based teams traveling down to Lakeland.
The Cumberlands Patriots moved into the top-three with another solid week. UC already has wins over three different clubs in the top-15 and should roll this week with a quartet of contests against St. Ambrose. It is entirely possible that Pats’ outfielder Bryan Leef is the best hitter in the NAIA. After batting .384 with 29 home runs in 2019 and 2020, he is currently hitting .405 with six home runs this season. Leef and the Cumberlands have an upcoming midweek matchup against Tennessee Wesleyan the first week of March which should be a barn burner.
Three teams fell out of the rankings; Wayland Baptist, Concordia (MI) and Lyon.
Wayland Baptist had an opportunity to make a big leap in the rankings as they picked up a last minute series against the NCAA D-II’s top team, Angelo State. However the Pioneers were rolled by the Rams and mercy-ruled twice over the weekend as well as a third time on Monday. Luis Vargas, the lone NAIA player on the recently announced Golden Spikes watch list was held to a single hit in the series.
Middle Georgia State, Bellevue and IU Kokomo entered the NAIA rankings this week. The Knights and Bruins are well-established clubs who are more often in the Top 25 than out, but it is the Cougars debut in the Perfect Game rankings. MGA and IUK incidentally will face each other this upcoming weekend in Georgia for a four-game series.
|1||1||Tennessee Wesleyan Bulldogs||TN||9-0||3-0|
|5||5||St. Thomas Bobcats||FL||7-4||3-0|
|7||7||LSU Shreveport Pilots||LA||5-3||2-0|
|8||8||Georgia Gwinnett Grizzlies||GA||8-2||4-0|
|12||10||Indiana Southeast Grenadiers||IN||4-4||1-1|
|13||13||Benedicine Mesa Redhawks||AZ||8-4||1-0|
|14||12||Oklahoma City Stars||OK||2-2||2-2|
|15||16||Central Methodist Eagles||MO||7-0||2-0|
|18||18||Lewis-Clark State Warriors||ID||71||0-0|
|19||NR||Middle Georgia State Knights||GA||8-3||4-1|
|20||19||Indiana Tech Warriors||IN||0-3||0-3|
|23||23||Central Baptist Mustangs||AK||2-2||0-0|
|24||NR||IU Kokomo Cougars||IU||2-1||2-1|
After their season opening series win over Texas Tyler, Angleo State faced another strong opponent in Wayland Baptist. The series not only featured a pair of the top small-school teams in the nation, but also starred two of just five non-NCAA D-I players who were named to USA Baseball’s 55-player Preseason Golden Spikes Award watch list. While ASU pitching held WBU’s Luis Vargas’ damage to a minimum, the Rams’ Josh Elvir had five hits in nine at-bats, which included two home runs in the series sweep.
The bulk of the D-II rankings were unchanged over the past week. Had Delta State not lost their second series in a row, it is entirely possible there would not have been any position changes.
The biggest news of the week in the D-II division is the Sunshine State Conference’s decision to play an abbreviated, conference-only schedule this spring. Due to COVID-19, the SSC canceled the bulk of fall and winter athletic competition and postponed basketball until last week. While an official statement hasn’t been posted yet regarding baseball, it appears the conference will be limiting competition to conference play only and eliminating overnight travel. The conference is home to several high profile D-II teams including Tampa, Nova Southeastern and Florida Southern. Those three teams, along with Lynn, have captured the D-II title eight of the past 15 seasons. The NCAA Regionals and championship series are still tentatively listed on SSC schools’ schedules, so it seems they still will be in the running for the national championship this season.
|1||1||Angelo State Rams||TX||4-1||2-1|
|2||2||Central Missouri Mules||MO||3-1||0-0|
|3||3||Colorado Mesa Mavericks||CO||0-0||0-0|
|5||5||North Greenville Crusaders||SC||6-1||5-1|
|6||6||Mount Olive Trojans||NC||3-0||2-0|
|9||9||Columbus St. Cougars||GA||2-0||2-0|
|10||10||Minnesota State Mavericks||MN||0-0||0-0|
|11||11||Georgia College Bobcats||GA||3-0||3-0|
|12||12||West Texas A&M Buffs||TX||7-2||2-0|
|13||13||North Georgia Nighthawks||GA||8-1||3-0|
|14||14||Southern Arkansas Muleriders||AR||2-1||0-0|
|16||16||Azusa Pacific Cougars||CA||0-0||0-0|
|17||17||Texas Tyler Patriots||TX||4-2||0-0|
|19||19||Nova Southeastern Sharks||FL||0-0||0-0|
|20||20||East Stroudsburg Warriors||PA||0-0||0-0|
|21||15||Delta State Statesmen||MS||2-3||1-1|
|23||22||UNC Pembroke Braves||NC||3-2||1-2|
Last week was the first occasion a school from the D-III Top 25 took to the diamond this season. Unfortunately it was only one team and for a single game (which was lost by Southern Maine). Thankfully that won’t be the situation for this week as several schools are scheduled to play, including top-ranked Webster, who is hoping to host Warburg and a trio of Texas-based teams, Concordia, Trinity and Texas Luthern, who should start their highly-anticipated seasons.
Keep watch on news regarding the Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference. Like the Sunshine State Conference at the D-II level, the SCIAC is home to some of the division’s top schools, which includes two of the past three title winners in Chapman and Cal Lutheran. Also like the SSC, the SCIAC canceled fall and winter sports due to public safety concerns. The 2021 seasons of member institutions could be in jeopardy.
|2||2||Southern Maine Huskies||ME||0-1||0-1|
|3||3||Randolph-Macon Yellow Jackets||VA||0-0||0-0|
|5||5||Cal Lutheran Kingsmen||CA||0-0||0-0|
|6||6||North Central Cardinals||IL||0-0||0-0|
|8||8||Cortland State Red Dragons||NY||0-0||0-0|
|10||11||Texas Lutheran Bulldogs||TX||0-0||0-0|
|13||13||Johns Hopkins Blue Jays||MD||0-0||0-0|
|22||22||Heidelberg Student Princes||OH||0-0||0-0|
|23||23||Concordia University Chicago Cougars||IL||0-0||0-0|
|25||25||Christopher Newport Captains||VA||0-0||0-0|