There usually isn’t much clamoring over who is at the top of the rankings as much as who has been left out, especially this season where the first changing of the top team didn’t take place until this update after Keiser lost their NAIA pole position. There is however weekly grumblings heard about which teams didn’t make the cut. Inarguably each Wednesday there are truly at least a half dozen schools in each of the three divisions which get relegated to Top 25 limbo who have a legitimate argument for their inclusion.
Along with the updated Top 25 for each of the divisions is included a quick look at a trio of schools who are on the outside looking in. These teams aren’t necessarily meant to be the next three in line but rather a peak into why a school is seemingly overlooked.
Rankings are based on games through Sunday, March 19.
NCAA Division II
Saint Joseph’s College (Ind.) Pumas
At 14-2 the St. Joseph’s College Pumas have a ludicrously high winning percentage, but their résumé lacks impressive wins over quality opposition. Furthermore, most of their victories have only been by a slim margin with eight of their 14 wins being by either one or two runs. Their first game of the season was a win over at-one-time-ranked Quincy, but that was a single victory way back in mid February so it’d be unwise to put too much stock in that accomplishment. They can boast a win over GVSU, but the Lakers of 2017 aren’t the perennial power they usually are and haven’t received Top 25 consideration from Perfect Game this season. The Pumas first series of the year was played last week and they swept three games, but they were played at home and two of three were one-run squeakers. If SJC can impressively handle Indianapolis this upcoming weekend it should be enough to get them in. Behind the scenes there’s sentiment that the Pumas will continue to pounce. It was revealed earlier this year that the school would be shutting down after this semester so it would be a bittersweet farewell for Head Coach Rick O’Dette’s team to end the season with a long postseason run.
Southern New Hampshire Penmen
After earning a win on the road against Nova Southeastern last week the Penmen were penciled into a position in the Top 25, but their unimpressive split against St. Thomas Aquinas put those plans on the back burner. Aside for their victory over the Sharks, SNHU doesn’t have any notable wins to hang on mom’s fridge. In their only series to date the Penmen split four games at Shippensburg who currently has an uninspiring 3-8 record. Had SNHU played (and beat) West Chester as scheduled this past weekend a series win over the Golden Rams certainly would have helped their credibility.
At 20-6 Union has a pretty impressive record with a couple quality wins to boot. They lost their series against No. 22 Delta State but did win one of three and narrowly took another in extra innings. The Bulldogs also have a midweek win over No. 24 Henderson State and recently won two of three against Valdosta State to knock the Blazers out of the Top 25. What hurts Union a bit is that a hunk of their wins have come against sub-optimal schools including notoriously unremarkable LeMoyne-Owen and Christian Brothers who make up a quarter of the Bulldog’s wins. They also recently dropped a pair of games to Mississippi College, which is not something that can be easily overlooked. It will take some more respectable victories, including series wins over West Florida and Lee, to get Union into the Top 25.
|2||4||North Georgia Nighthawks||GA||21-4||5-0|
|3||9||Chico State Wildcats||CA||19-4||4-0|
|4||2||USC Aiken Pacers||SC||19-7||1-3|
|5||6||Emporia State Hornets||MO||19-4||4-0|
|6||5||Dixie State Trailblazers||UT||20-6||3-1|
|7||7||Angelo State Rams||TX||18-4||2-2|
|8||8||Point Loma Sea Lions||CA||15-3||1-0|
|9||3||Nova Southeastern Sharks||FL||16-10||1-4|
|10||10||Azusa Pacific Cougars||CA||19-3||4-0|
|11||11||Mount Olive Trojans||NC||23-5||4-0|
|12||12||Lynn Fighting Knights||FL||20-7||4-0|
|14||14||Colorado Mesa Mavericks||CO||13-7||0-0|
|15||15||West Texas A&M Buffs||TX||18-4||2-2|
|16||16||Lubbock Christian Chaparrals||TX||17-8||2-1|
|17||17||Central Missouri Mules||MO||17-5||2-1|
|18||19||UC San Diego Tritons||CA||18-4||3-0|
|20||NR||Florida Southern Moccasins||FL||18-6||4-0|
|21||20||Minnesota State Mavericks||MN||9-4||4-0|
|22||24||Delta State Statesman||MS||18-7||4-0|
|23||NR||Southern Arkansas Muleriders||AR||19-5||4-0|
|24||18||Henderson State Reddies||AR||16-8||2-2|
Dropped out: Valdosta State (22), Franklin Pierce (23).
Mayville State Comets
Mayville State is just outside the top 10 nationally in winning percentage at .800 with a 16-4 record, but getting too enthused about their overall competitiveness is a stretch at best. Five of their wins have come against NCAA D-III teams and four of those were by a single run. The Comets can claim wins against previously ranked Westmont and No. 25 Clarke, but again, the victories were by a one-run margin so the North Star Conference leader isn’t exactly knocking the stirrups off opposition. With an upcoming schedule with the ilk of Waldorf, Viterbo, Valley City State and Mount Marty who are a combined 20-61, Mayville would have to win every game by a considerable margin to outset their feeble fixtures strength.
Concordia (Mich.) Cardinals
Had the Cardinals managed to claim a game against Northwestern Ohio last week it certainly would have helped their cause to claim an open position in this week’s rankings. Nevertheless, the Cardinals dropped both their home games to the Racers to remain in Top 25 purgatory. Under the guidance of Zach Johnston, a former three-time All Conference Concordia player, the Cardinals have a 22-7 record with a fall win over No. 23 Indiana Tech as well a more recent victory over the No. 7 Southeastern Fire. Without any other ranked teams currently on their schedule, Concordia’s opportunity for upward mobility is limited and will have to hope WHAC-mate Davenport continues to win to set up a top-of-the-table showdown at the end of the regular season.
Of the three teams listed here Lyon has the potential for the most upward mobility. They have a more-than-respectable 19-9 record, which includes a win over third-ranked Oklahoma Wesleyan and a quality D-II Arkansas Tech team. Had they not stumbled against Cumberland mid-February, their strong pitching staff, which has a 3.28 team ERA, would have them on the brink of the Top 25, if not in it already. The Scots have had some cupcakes on the schedule, but will get an opportunity to dine against finer and more formidable opposition soon. They’ll face good Freed-Hardeman, Park and Columbia College clubs and will travel to Missouri Baptist mid-April. Winning the games that they should as well as three of those four series could get them in.
|2||3||St. Thomas Bobcats||FL||23-9||4-1|
|3||4||Oklahoma Wesleyan Eagles||OK||24-5||5-0|
|4||5||Oklahoma City Stars||OK||28-4||4-0|
|6||8||William Carey Crusaders||MS||22-5||5-0|
|9||10||Georgia Gwinnett Grizzlies||GA||23-8||5-0|
|10||11||Tennessee Wesleyan Bulldogs||TN||20-8||4-0|
|11||12||Middle Georgia State Knights||GA||23-8||3-0|
|13||20||Texas Wesleyan Rams||TX||20-7||5-0|
|14||14||Northwestern Ohio Racers||OH||19-10||2-0|
|15||22||Webber International Warriors||FL||24-5||4-2|
|17||NR||Missouri Baptist Spartans||MO||17-9||5-0|
|19||NR||Central Methodist Eagles||MO||21-4||5-0|
|21||17||Lewis-Clark State Warriors||ID||12-8||2-1|
|22||16||LSU Shreveport Pilots||LA||20-8||3-3|
|23||13||Indiana Tech Warriors||IN||16-7||1-2|
|24||23||MidAmerica Nazarene Pioneers||KS||14-5||3-1|
Dropped out: USC Beaufort (18), Westmont (19), Freed-Hardeman (21), Reinhardt (25).
NCAA Division III
The Bears were one of the last teams left out of the preseason rankings and if the clocks were turned back, they very likely would have made the cut with a second chance at consideration. So far this season Wash U has a nice 9-5 record, which is a bit better than it looks. Two of those losses were close games against fifth-ranked Birmingham Southern on the road, another was by a single run and third was in the middle of a long Florida trip. The Bears have an upcoming series against fourth-ranked Emory in which a series win would certainly get them in, provided they take care of Illinois Wesleyan this week. Otherwise the team will have to make their case with quantity of wins over quality with no other real formable opponents on the schedule.
Christopher Newport Captains
The Captains spent nearly half of 2016 in the rankings before puttering out towards the end of the season. With that they got a good long look in the preseason, but it was decided they weren’t quite Top 25 worthy. Turns out that look may have been wrong as CNU currently sits 16-9 and are tied atop the CAC standings. They easily handled formerly ranked Frostburg State last week and also have a win over top-ranked Cortland. The Captains also have quality losses against Birmingham Southern (well, kinda quality, a good team, but lost by 10), Randolph-Macon and Oswego State. A win this week over Salisbury will put them on the short-short list for any open spots next week.
Alvernia has won 10 of their first 11, with their only defeat being a one-run loss to Kean. In their wins they’ve been steamrolling competition, reaching double-digits in six of 10, which includes a 30-3 mauling of Rivier College. The quality and depth of the pitching staff is more than a bit concerning as two pitchers have thrown over 40 percent of the team’s total innings. The Crusaders don’t have any marquee wins as of yet as their only scheduled game against a ranked opponent was rained out so there is little for them to hang their helmet on. To keep in Top 25 contention Alvernia will have to keep compiling runs and wins at their breakneck speed and matchup well with upper class clubs like TCNJ and Rutgers-Camden when the opportunity presents itself.
|1||1||Cortland State Red Dragons||NY||12-3||3-1|
|6||6||Wooster Fighting Scots||OH||6-1||5-0|
|7||7||Oswego State Lakers||NY||12-4||4-1|
|8||8||Tyler Texas Patriots||TX||18-3||3-1|
|9||9||Randolph-Macon Yellow Jackets||VA||13-4||2-0|
|11||10||UW La Crosse Eagles||WI||6-3||5-2|
|14||13||La Roche Redhawks||PA||5-5||0-0|
|15||16||UT Dallas Comets||TX||18-4||3-1|
|19||NR||Texas Lutheran Bulldogs||TX||14-7||4-0|
|20||17||Pacific Lutheran Lutes||WA||14-5||2-2|
|21||21||Johns Hopkins Blue Jays||MD||8-2||3-0|
|25||NR||West New England Golden Bears||MA||8-2||4-0|
Dropped out: Suffolk (18), St. John Fisher (22), Concordia University Chicago (23), North Central (25).
Originally appeared on Perfect Game website: https://www.perfectgame.org/Articles/View.aspx?article=13646