DII, NAIA, DIII Top 25 Standouts

Photo: Cam Voss (East Stroudsburg Athletics)

Up until Monday there was still a sliver of a chance that small school college baseball would be played in spring of 2020.  However, that final glimmer was extinguished Monday when the NAIA followed their NCAA brethren and inevitably canceled the remainder of the spring sports season. Consequently, these are regrettably anticipated to be the final rankings of the year.

Along with each team in the Top 25 a player from the roster is featured who was putting together a spectacular season.  The group includes an ensemble of everyday players who were slugging well over 1.000, some phenomenal pitchers who generated subatomic ERAs as well as a few defensive maestros. Without their superlative contributions their teams certainly wouldn’t have been as successful in the shortened season as they were. It’s an absolute misfortune that they weren’t able to play out their season.

NCAA Division II

1. Angelo State Rams – Josh Elvir was putting together a magnificent season as he was batting .438 with 10 doubles and 11 home runs to amass a 1.027 slugging percentage. He had 27 walks and six HBPs to compile a .607 OBP. He even added 15 stolen bases.

2. Central Missouri State – Dusty Stroup’s season nearly as impressive as Elvir’s as the Mule’s third baseman. He was batting .453 with 12 doubles and 10 home runs. He only had five walks, but had only struck out four times in 86 at-bats.

3. Catawba Indians – Hunter Shepherd, who led the team in hitting last season at .358, was hitting .447 with six doubles and nine home runs. He also started six games on the mound and had a 2.64 ERA in 27 1/3 innings with 28 strikeouts.

4. Georgia College Bobcats – Shortstop Cassius Young had only batted a combined .245 over his first two seasons, but his .453 batting average and four home runs both paced the team as GC shot up the rankings.

5. North Greenville Crusaders – Brady West transferred from Indiana Wesleyan and made a huge impact for NGU. He was leading the high-octane Crusaders in batting average at .429 while also topping the team with seven home runs.

6. Mount Olive Trojans – The Trojans had a number of players put together impressive seasons at the plate, but no one was near as dominating as Hunter Stevens on the mound. He had a 2.15 ERA with three complete games, two shutouts and a save while holding opposition to a .155 batting average.

7. Colorado Mesa Mavericks – Haydn McGeary was slugging 1.014 as he mashed nine home runs with 11 doubles in just 18 games for the Mavs. He had raised his batting average to .471 when the season was ended.

8. Columbus State Cougars – The Cougars starting the season unranked but jumped into the top 10 thanks in part to the strong pitching of Jalen Latta. Latta had thrown 40 innings and only allowed 30 hits and 11 walks with 47 strikeouts. His ERA was a tiny 2.25.

9. UC San Diego Tritons – Luke Mattson dominated in relief for the Tritons. He made seven appearances out of the bullpen and only allowed 13 hits in 23 innings while striking out 35 batters. His ERA was 0.78 and was credited with four wins and a save.

10. Tampa Spartans – Jacinto Arredondo struck out 38 batters while only allowing 21 his in 29 1/3 innings for the Spartans. He earned four saves and two wins in his nine appearances on the mound.

11. Augusta Vikings – The Vikings players didn’t get much opportunity to impress in just 13 games, but Jaxon Rosencranz made the most of his appearances as he was batting .370 with six home runs, four doubles and two triples in just 46 at-bats.

12. North Georgia Nighthawks – Despite one bad outing Steven Bower was a pitcher teams didn’t want to face. He struck out 54 batters in 37 1/3 innings while holding opposition to a .222 batting average. He only allowed three hits his first 14 innings on the season with 25 strikeouts.

13. Bellarmine Knights – The Knights were a team of promise this season and pitchers like Brandon Pfaadt were a big reason why. In his five starts he only allowed four earned runs for a 1.38 ERA and hold opposition to a .189 batting average while striking out 27 batters in 26 innings.

14. Dixie State Trailblazers – Jake Engel was leading the Trailblazers in every major category as he was batting .458 with six doubles, six home runs, 27 runs scored and 51 total bases.

15. Southern New Hampshire Penmen – Jeffery Praml had dominated on the mound since his first time stepping on the diamond and this year was no different. He threw complete games in two of this three starts and had only allowed six hits in 22 1/3 innings. His season ERA was 0.40.

16. Southern Arkansas Muleriders – The Muleriders were unranked to start the season but entered the top 20 behind the slugging of Brett McGee who was hitting .424 with nine home runs. He also had 25 walks and six HBPs to amass a .596 OBP.

17. Newberry Wolves – The Wolves’ early success was largely in part to their strong pitching. Quinton Driggers was the team’s first-ever All American last season and was on his way to earning a host of honors once again. In 28 innings over an amazing 14 appearances he had struck out 38 batters while only allowing 18 hits.

18. Davenport Panthers – After he tied the school record in batting average last season at .429, Jacob Buchberger was well on his way to shattering that mark as he was hitting .525 with six doubles, three triples and six home runs.

19. East Stroudsburg Warriors – Cam Voss had only allowed a pair of singles in 21 innings with 42 strikeouts before the season prematurely ended. His ERA was 0.43 and he was 3-0 in five appearances.

20. Minnesota State Mavericks – The Mavericks were underperforming as a team but Cam Kline was doing his part to propel the club. He was hitting .340 with seven extra-base hits and had stuck out 13 batters in 15 innings on the mound with a complete game.

21. Ashland Eagles – If Josh Stover had continued to pitch who knows how many strikeouts he would have compiled. He had struck out 35 batters in just 20 1/3 innings. In a game against St. Cloud he struck out 17 batters in just seven innings.

22. Azusa Pacific Cougars – The Cougars’ 10-10 record was underwhelming but Nick Estrella certainly wasn’t. He was leading the team with a .357 batting average and five home runs while also topping the team in ERA with a 1.46 ERA in 24 2/3 innings over five starts.

23. UNC Pembroke Braves – The Braves were making up over an underwhelming performance last season by dominating at the plate and mound. JJ Oxendine had appeared in nine games and had yet to allow a single earned run in 17 1/3 innings with only four walks and 21 strikeouts.

24. Texas Tyler Patriots – The 2018 D-III national champions made the move to D-II and were still racking up wins with players like Austin Schneider who had struck out 63 batters in 39 innings. He had a 2.08 ERA over seven appearances and was holding batters to a .159 batting average.

25. Wingate Bulldogs – The Bulldogs joined the Top 25 at the beginning of March thanks in large part to the hitting of McCann Mellett who was batting .395 with nine doubles, a triple and four home runs.

Rk.Prev.SchoolSTRecordWeek
11Angelo State RamsTX19-30-0
22Central Missouri MulesMO20-32-0
33Catawba IndiansNC19-32-0
44Georgia College BobcatsGA13-20-0
55North Greenville CrusadersSC19-5-12-0
66Mount Olive TrojansNC19-42-0
77Colorado Mesa MavericksCO14-40-0
812Columbus St. CougarsGA18-31-0
99UC San Diego TritonsCA17-40-0
1010Tampa SpartansFL15-72-0
1111Augustana VikingsSD9-42-0
1213North Georgia NighthawksGA13-61-0
1314Bellarmine KnightsKY10-40-0
1415Dixie State TrailblazersUT15-30-0
1516Southern New Hampshire PenmenNH11-41-0
1620Southern Arkansas MuleridersAR19-41-0
1717Newberry WolvesSC18-60-1
1818Davenport PantersMI13-20-0
1919East Stroudsburg WarriorsPA14-1-20-0
208Minnesota State MavericksMN8-52-2
2121Ashland EaglesOH10-43-2
2222Azusa Pacific CougarsCA10-100-0
23NRUNC Pembroke BravesNC18-51-0
24NRTexas Tyler Patriots TX20-324
2523Wingate BulldogsNC15-60-1

Dropped out: NYIT (24), Delta State (25).

NAIA

1. Southeastern Fire – Zach Cornell was arguably the top hitter in the NAIA as he was batting a lofty .519 with 12 doubles, a pair of triples and 10 home runs for the top-ranked Fire.

2. USAO Drovers – Colton Williams was having another magnificent season on the mound. In five starts this year he had held opposition to a .135 batting average as he only allowed 14 hits in 29 2/3 innings. While on the mound he only issued three walks and had a 0.61 ERA.

3. St. Thomas Bobcats – The Bobcats have a number of brilliant performers to choose from, especially on the mound. Closer Jason Graña stands out as he only allowed six hits in 15 1/3 innings over nine appearances. During those outings he earned four saves and a pair of wins.

4. LSU Shreveport Pilots – His name is incredibly dull, but David Jones’ performance on the mound was anything but boring. In 36 innings he struck out 46 batters and held opposition to a .197 batting average.

5. Georgia Gwinnett Grizzlies – No pitcher performed better this season than Hunter Peck. Peck threw three complete games in six appearances and didn’t give up a single earned run in 38 innings. He only allowed 14 hits to amass a .109 batting average with 56 strikeouts.

6. Faulkner Eagles – Antonio Frias was in the top 20 nationally with his five wins, .154 batting average allowed and hits per nine innings as  he only allowed 18 hits in 35 innings. He also was leading the team with 53 strikeouts as he recorded at least eight in each of his starts.

7. Cumberlands Patriots – The Pats’ offense was led by Bryan Leef who was hitting .367 with six doubles, three triples and nine home runs. He also was a perfect 10-for-10 in stolen bases.

8. Freed-Hardeman Lions – The Lions started the season slower than anticipated but Austin Steel was as advertised. He threw three complete games in his five outings and earned a 1.06 ERA. Opponents were batting .177 against him and he had stuck out 34 batters while only walking four.

9. Tennessee Wesleyan Bulldogs – Landon Walker was excelling for the Bulldog staff as both a starter and out of the bullpen. In eight outings he totaled 22 1/3 innings with a 0.81 ERA and only allowed 17 hits and six walks with 24 strikeouts.

10. Oklahoma City Stars – What a season it could have been for Tyler Williams. He was batting .407 with 13 home runs and five doubles for a .951 slugging percentage. His 23 walks and five HBPs pushed his OBP to .560. He even was a perfect 11-for-11 in stolen bases.

11. Benedictine Mesa Redhawks – Travis Hunt was putting up big numbers for the Redhawks. He was leading the team with a .374 batting average while also pacing the club with 10 doubles and seven home runs for a .736 slugging percentage.

12. IU Southeast Grenadiers – One of the main reasons the Grenadiers had only lost a single game this season was due to their dynamic leadoff hitter Clay Woeste. The second baseman was batting .355 while leading the team with five home runs and 15 stolen bases.

13. Lyon Scots – Few hitters were as impressive this season as Kylan Barnett. He was topping the team in batting at .432 with also pacing the Scots with 12 doubles and six home runs.

14. Central Methodist Eagles – Shortstop Sergio Macias was hitting .385 and had a third of the Eagles’ home runs to lead the team. His slugging percentage was nearly 1.000 as he also had four doubles and a triple.

15. Bryan Lions – The Lions were only batting .269 as a team, but Tyler Scott was doing his part to help Bryan at the plate. He was batting .417 with a .563 OBP while holding down the infield at second base with only two errors in 20 starts.

16. Campbellsville Tigers – Alexander Salazar struck out 50 of the 125 batters he faced this season and held opposition to a .173 batting average as he only allowed 19 hits in 30 2/3 innings. He ERA in five starts was 1.76.

17. Arizona Christian Firestorm – Winning was a team effort for the Firestorm which didn’t have many standouts as the roster was solid from top to bottom. However, Anthony Defrancesco stands out for appearing in 12 games in which he struck out 20 batters in 11 innings while only allowing five hits. His ERA out of the bullpen was 1.64.

18. Wayland Baptist Pioneers – The unquestioned position player of the year was Luis Vargas who was batting .495 with 20 home runs when the season was cut short. He also added nine doubles and a triple to push his slugging percentage to a lofty 1.184.

19. Vanguard Lions – The Lions offensive drink was stirred by Landon Riker who was hitting .396 with 11 doubles, seven home runs and 15 stolen bases. He also had twice as many walks as strikeouts to push his OBP to .496.

20. Middle Georgia State Knights – The Knights were coming on strong after a slow start in large part to an excellent pitching staff led by Logan Carter. Carter had made seven starts in which he held opposition to a .238 batting average and had a 1.93 ERA. His 47 strikeouts in 37 1/3 innings were leading the team.

21. Central Baptist Mustangs – Tiny Central Baptist College had one of the biggest offensive performers in Griffith Olinde. He was leading the team with a .471 batting average with 13 home runs to amass a .989 slugging percentage.

22. Martin Methodist RedHawks – The RedHawks made their way into the Perfect Game Top 25 thanks to solid contributions from players like Drew Bailey. The undersized hurler was pitching tall as he had 35 strikeouts in 32 1/3 innings with a 2.23 ERA.

23. Reinhardt Eagles – Nick Sanders was a star on defense and solidified the Reinhardt infield at shortstop. He had only committed three errors on the season despite compiling 130 chances with an astonishing 83 assists (3.2 per game). He started slow at the plate but had been heating up with eight hits in his last five starts.

24. Concordia Cardinals – Billy Blair had only allowed 12 hits in 24 innings to limit opposition to a .148 average. His 1.50 ERA topped the team as did his 25 strikeouts and 101 batters faced in which he only allowed four extra-base hits.

25. Mobile Rams – The Rams’ MVP on the season would have to be Caleb Coffey. He appeared in 10 games and earned five wins and a pair of saves. In 31 1/3 innings he only allowed 22 hits while striking out 30.

Rk.Prev.SchoolSTRecordWeek
11Southeastern FireFL26-13-0
22USAO DroversOK17-11-0
34St. Thomas BobcatsFL19-53-0
45LSU Shreveport PilotsLA22-44-0
58Georgia Gwinnett GrizzliesGA21-23-0
66Faulkner EaglesAL18-40-0
77Cumberlands PatriotsKY19-12-1
83Freed-Hardeman LionsTN16-41-1
99Tennessee Wesleyan BulldogsTN16-62-0
1010Oklahoma City StarsOK17-83-0
1111Benedicine Mesa RedhawksAZ22-72-0
1212Indiana Southeast GrenadiersIN18-12-0
1315Lyon ScotsAR20-64-1
1413Central Methodist EaglesMO16-50-1
1514Bryan LionsTN14-60-1
1616Campbellsville TigersKY13-80-0
1717Arizona Christian FirestormAZ18-90-0
1818Wayland Baptist PioneersTX21-72-0
1919Vanguard LionsCA21-60-0
2020Middle Georgia State KnightsGA17-80-0
21NRCentral Baptist MustangsAK21-52-0
2222Martin Methodist RedHawksTN15-31-0
23NRReinhardt EaglesGA18-74-1
2424Concordia CardinalsMI13-43-1
2525Mobile RamsAL17-40-1

Dropped out: Texas Wesleyan (21), Taylor (23).

NCAA Division III

1. Randolph-Macon Yellow Jackets – Matt Nickles made six starts for R-MC in which he totaled 29 innings. While on the mound he only allowed 15 hits and nine earned runs for a .147 opposing batting average and 2.79 ERA. Most impressively he stuck out 54 batters which computes to 16.75 per nine innings.

2. UW-Whitewater Warhawks – The UWW only played in three games and one was only seven innings.

3. North Central Cardinals – The Cardinals only played seven games, but Eric Outlaw still managed to earn 17 hits for a .586 batting average.

4. Cal Lutheran Kingsmen – In 17 games Ryan Yamashiro managed to hit .412 with four doubles, four triples and a home run. He also led the team with 22 RBI and had a .976 fielding percentage at third base.

5. UMass Boston Beacons – The Beacons only played in four games on the season.

6. Southern Maine Huskies – The Huskies only played in one game on the season.

7. Washington Bears – Tim Teague threw 12 innings for the Bears and only a allowed a single hit. He earned the win in three of his four appearances out of the bullpen.

8. Babson Beavers – The Beavers only played in three games on the season.

9. Spalding Eagles – The Eagles’ winning prospects were fueled by their offense, but Jack Parisi dazzled on the mound. He threw 20 innings in which he struck out 25 batters and held opposition to a .222 batting average with a 1.80 ERA.

10. Concordia Tornados – Bret Leiferman was batting .492 with five doubles, three triples and three home runs for a .831 slugging percentage. He also stole six bases.

11. Trinity Tigers – The Tigers’ outfielder Jack Vonderhaar was leading the team with a .383 batting average and had hit six doubles and four triples.

12. Shenandoah Hornets – It would have been nice to see what kind of numbers Keegan Woolford was going to put this season. He was batting .463 with four doubles and five home runs in 12 games for a .927 slugging percentage.

13. Salisbury Seagulls – Pitcher Jackson Balzan had struck out 32 of the 83 batters he had faced on the season while only allowing 19 hits. Opposition was batting a measly .229 against him.

14. Texas Lutheran Bulldogs – Tyler Cauler was hitting .390 with five home runs before the season came to a close. He also had four doubles to amass an .854 slugging percentage.

15. Webster Gorlocks – The Gorlocks weren’t living up to their billing as the preseason No. 1 team, but Sean Beaver certainly was impressive. In 20 2/3 innings he only allowed 14 hits and a single earned run with 23 strikeouts.

16. Rowan Profs – The Profs had only played in six games on the season.

17. Wooster Fighting Scots – The Scots were playing .500 ball in eight games but if more players had performed like Dan Harwood had, hitting .536 with four extra-base hits, they would have fared much better.

18. St. Johns Fisher Cardinals – The Cardinals’ Brian Norsen was hitting .455 with five home runs and 17 RBI when the season was cut short.

19. Chapman Panthers – Nick Garcia had struck out 36 batters in 27 innings while only allowing 17 hits for a .170 opposing batting average. In five starts his ERA was a solid 2.00.

20. Heidelberg Student Princes – Trevor Adkins made four starts for the Princes and totaled 21 innings on the mound. He only allowed three earned runs for a 1.29 ERA and was holding opposition to a .219 batting average.

21. Aurora Spartans – The Spartans’ Colin Rivard was leading the team with a .381 batting average.

22. Swarthmore Garnett – Sawyer Luke appeared in three games and threw a total of 15 2/3 innings. During those outings he only allowed eight hits while striking out 17.

23. Concordia-Chicago Cougars – The Cougars’ Adam Gregory had thrown 17 innings and only allowed nine hits and a pair of walks for a 0.65 WHIP. His ERA was 1.59.

24. Tufts Jumbos – Tuffs had their entire season cancelled.

25. Coe Kohawks – Coe only played six games on the season.

Rk.Prev.SchoolSTRecordWeek
11Randolph-Macon Yellow JacketsVA15-11-0
22UW-Whitewater WarhawksWI2-10-0
33North Central CardinalsIL7-00-0
44Cal Lutheran KingsmenCA16-10-0
58UMass-Boston BeaconsMA3-11-0
67Southern Maine HuskiesME0-10-0
79Washington BearsMO9-31-1
814Babson BeaversMA2-10-0
910Spalding EaglesKY11-30-0
1011Concordia TornadosTX11-50-0
1115Trinity TigersTX11-23-0
1212Shenandoah HornetsVA10-10-1
1313Salisbury SeagullsMD8-32-0
1416Texas Lutheran BulldogsTX9-41-0
155Webster GorloksMO8-53-2
1617Rowan ProfsNJ6-01-0
176Wooster Fighting ScotsOH4-44-3
1818St. John Fisher CardinalsNY7-40-0
1920Chapman PanthersCA12-30-0
2019Heidelberg Student PrincesOH7-52-1
2121Aurora SpartansIL9-20-0
22NRSwarthmore GarnetPA10-24-0
2323Tufts JumbosMA0-00-0
2524Concordia University Chicago CougarsIL5-53-2
2525Coe KohawksIA3-30-0

Dropped out: Emory (22).

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