DII/DIII/NAIA Rankings Update: April 5

Photo: Asher Bradd (Clayton Shelter)


Dropped: Arkansas Tech (24)

A pair of upsets at the top of the NCAA D-II rankings made things a little murky this week with three of the top five teams unexpectedly losing series. 

The first happened in a monster matchup between two teams firmly entrenched in the top ten. Top ranked and defending national champion North Greenville traveled to Mount Olive and faced the upset minded conference rival Trojans. After eeking out a slim 3-1 win in the opener, NGU dropped the next two games. The Trojans won the second game behind a brilliant pitching performance from UMO’s Erik Johnson and Trey Deutsh who combined to one-hit the champs and secure a 4-1 win. In the finale, North Greenville outhit the Trojans 12-7, but Mount Olive did more with less thanks to timely extra base hits and making the most of opportunities when runners were in scoring position. UMO easily won the game 10-4. 

The Crusaders’ losses opened the door for Tampa to take over the top position, but they too lost a series to a ranked conference opponent. 

With home field advantage and two solid sweeps the previous two weeks, Tampa appeared to be in fine form headed into their three game series with Rolllins. Nevertheless, the Spartans dropped back-to-back 5-3 games to the Tars before salvaging the series with a win in the finale. Like with North Greenville, it was their first series loss of the season. While the Tars’ Parker Smith is only batting .247 on the season, he makes them count when he does make contact. 13 of his 24 hits in 97 at bats this season have been home runs.

With the top two teams each losing a series, Angleo State could have seized the opportunity to take over the number one position with a solid weekend; however they had the week off. 

Fourth ranked MIllersville ran their winning streak to double-digits with a midweek win over Mansfield and a series sweep over Lock Haven. As impressive as they have been with their team batting average (.315) currently being twenty points higher than their oppositions’ slugging percentage (.295), the decision to anoint the Marauders as the number one team was put on the back-burner for at least a week. Millersville has been rolling their opposition this spring, but have yet to earn a win over a ranked opponent. Their best wins to-date have been a pair of wins over Molloy who nearly advanced to the DII National Championships last season. However next weekend, MU will have the opportunity to show they can unequivocally tangle with the top tier when they travel to East Stroudsburg and play a three game set against the Warriors.If the Marauders are ahead late, it will be difficult for the Warriors to rally as MU’s closer Kris Pirozzi has struck out 21 batters in only 10 ⅓ innings while only allowing four hits.

Previously fifth ranked Columbus State would have had an outside chance to jump into the top spot with an impressive effort against rankings outlier Young Harris, but the Mountain Lions swept three games from the Cougars, including a 13-1 mercy rule manhandling. YHC’s Jeremy Begora was named the Peach Belt Conference Player of the Week for the third time this season after hitting four home runs. He is currently batting .356 and is second in the PBC with 10 homers.

Of additional note, two other teams within the top ten also suffered multiple setbacks. Montevallo lost their first series of the year when they were 10-runned and shutout by West Florida, and Quincy split a four game series with Illinois Springfield. 

Based on the totality of the weekend, both the Crusaders and Spartans were able to keep their number one and two spots in the rankings. This is because the rankings’ rungs are not even like steps on a ladder with NGU, Tampa and Angelo State having been in a slightly upper echelon than the other teams.  The Crusaders and Spartans’ losses have narrowed the gaps between the rest of the teams in the top of the rankings and have completely opened up the top spot’s availability for future updates. 

Making the rankings additionally cumbersome this week is that there is an overload of deserving teams which has caused a backlog of deserving quality clubs to remain on the outside. Young Harris has been a rankings contender since the preseason. With quality wins over Lee and USC Aiken they’ve been on the shortlist of teams to add. Their series sweep over Columbus State undeniably made them worthy of inclusion. 

Missouri Southern and their 27-8 record has also made them a Top 25 contender. The Lions have an offense capable of scoring runs in bunches and have reached double-digit totals in six of their last eight games. 

Alas, schools in the second half of the D-II rankings performed well collectively last week. In order to add either school into the Top 25 would require taking another team out, and there simply weren’t any vacancies for Young Harris or MSSU this week.

There was one opening however which was filled by Illinois Springfield. The Prairie Stars’ 22-8 record which previously included wins over #20 Lenoir-Rhyne and Missouri Southern, got a boost with two wins over #11 Quincy. They enter at the #24 position, replacing displaced Arkansas Tech. UIS centerfielder Asher Bradd has been phenomenal as the Prairie Stars’ lead off hitter. He is batting .488 with an OB% of .540% and 15 stolen bases to propel an offense which is nearly scoring 7.5 runs per game.

RankSchoolStateOverall Rec.Last WeekPrev Rank
1North Greenville CrusadersSC31-42-21
2Tampa SpartansFL24-61-22
3Angelo State RamsTX30-40-03
4Millersville MaraudersPA25-43-04
5Mount Olive TrojansNC24-83-17
6Wingate BulldogsNC22-122-16
7Columbus St. CougarsGA24-90-35
8Montevallo FalconsAL27-73-28
9East Stroudsburg WarriorsPA22-41-09
10Newberry WolvesSC29-54-013
11Quincy HawksIL20-62-210
12Central Missouri MulesMO24-93-111
13Southern Arkansas MuleridersAR24-93-112
14Rollins TarsFL22-92-223
15Colorado Mesa MavericksCO23-83-115
16Minnesota State MavericksMN19-65-114
17Wayne State WarriorsMI19-33-016
18St. Edward’s HilltoppersTX27-65-017
19UNC Pembroke BravesNC26-93-118
20Lenoir-Rhyne BearsNC29-84-019
21Metro State RoadrunnersCO26-84-020
22Cal State San Bernardino CoyotesCA23-83-222
23West Georgia WolvesGA25-73-021
24Illinois Springfield Prairie StarsIL22-82-2NR
25Valdosta State BlazersGA20-92-125


Dropped: Georgetown (24)

The rankings in the NAIA were nowhere near as volatile as their D-II counterparts. So far every school which started the season in the top five of the rankings is still in the top five, albeit with some minor jostling of the positions. 

Top ranked Southeastern lost their second game of the season, but it will take a couple more for them to be removed from the number one position. Should they falter in either of their upcoming series against Keiser and St. Thomas, both Georgia Gwinnett and Cumberlands appear to be worthy to ascend to the top spot. 

The Grizzlies had an excellent week with a victory over Bryan and a series win over #13 ranked Loyola in New Orleans. GGC lost the opener to Loyola, but won a pair on Saturday fueled by three home runs in each game. Also impressive is that Johnathan Haab struck out 11 of 18 batters in five relief innings in the finale to secure the win. Jon Ponder got a hit in each game to run his streak to 24 games. 

Meanwhile Cumberlands secured a solid Tuesday win over #5 Tennessee Wesleyan and swept Wilberforce in which they swept the Bulldogs by a combined score of 45-6. Charlie Muniz went 14-17 with five home runs on the week. The Patriots will host TWU for another matchup between NAIA powerhouses on Wednesday.

The Concordia Bulldogs have been mentioned at length in previous rankings updates, but this week it is the Corcorida Cardinals who deserve extra praise. Concordia earned a pair of wins Monday to increase their record to 25-1. They are currently in the #21 position in the Perfect Game Top 25.

Tyson Kleinfelter has been brilliant on the mound and earned the win in each of his eight starts. In 51 innings he has only allowed 31 hits over 51 innings with 76 strikeouts. Drew Flemming, a transfer from Wright State, has excelled in his move to Ann Arbor. He is batting .388 with nine home runs. 

Despite their impressive record, there is still quite a bit of caution in moving CU far up the rankings. They have not faced the stiffest of competition this season. Mathematically their strength of schedule is significantly the lowest of any of the 198 NAIA teams. They have a pair of games this weekend against both Northwestern Ohio and Madonna which should be a better gauge of their talent. 

One school almost made their Perfect Game NAIA rankings debut – not just of the season, but ever. Morningside, who had earned a pair of quality wins over Doane the week before, started last week with a 14-13 victory on the road against #6 Bellevue. Over the weekend they earned another pair of respectable wins over Mount Marty. Should the Mustangs complete a series sweep over Mount Marty on Monday, and bookend the week with a strong showing against Hastings. There’s a strong chance they’ll be included in next week’s edition. 

Jason Willers has been leading Morningside offensively with a .355 batting average and 22 extra base hits. On the mound Wade Canaday has a 3.15 ERA with a pair of complete games. In 40 innings he has struck out 44 batters in 40 innings. 

Taylor, a team no stranger to the rankings, is another club just on the outside of the Top 25. Last week Camden Knepp was 8 for 18 with five home runs out of the lead off position to help the Trojans move to 23-11.

RankSchoolStateOverall Rec.Last WeekPrev Rank
1Southeastern FireFL35-22-11
2Georgia Gwinnett GrizzliesGA31-53-12
3Cumberlands PatriotsKY29-54-03
4LSU Shreveport PilotsLA29-63-05
5Tennessee Wesleyan BulldogsTN27-63-14
6Bellevue BruinsNE25-54-17
7Westmont WarriorsCA27-72-26
8Oklahoma Wesleyan EaglesOK28-74-08
9Hope International RoyalsCA21-61-09
10Missouri Baptist SpartansMO26-46-011
11William Carey CrusadersMS27-64-012
12Reinhardt EaglesGA23-103-118
13Loyola Wolf PackLA24-122-213
14Mobile RamsAL24-63-015
15Webber International WarriorsFL27-101-210
16Vanguard LionsCA24-123-116
17Central Methodist EaglesMO22-104-022
18Lewis-Clark State WarriorsID20-101-314
19Concordia BulldogsNE20-103-117
20Texas Wesleyan RamsTX24-112-120
21Concordia CardinalsMI25-13-021
22Benedictine Mesa RedhawksAZ24-74-023
23Freed-Hardeman LionsTN21-142-2NR
24SAGU LionsTX26-103-125
25Doane TigersNE22-82-319


Dropped: Salve Regina (25)

The top schools in D-III performed as advertised with few unexpected losses. This was especially true for the Top 10 teams who won a combined 32 with only four losses to unranked opposition. 

The only ranked team in the Top 25 who went winless last week was North Central College. The Cardinals dropped a pair of games to Wheaton which caused them to drop a few positions to #20 . NCC will have an opportunity to redeem itself this week against Augustana as the two CCIW schools are scheduled to meet twice – once on Tuesday and again on Saturday.  One player who the Cardinals will rely on during the matchup is Jason Shanner. He lowered his season ERA to 0.79 on the year and he has thrown 22 ⅓ innings while only allowing 10 hits. Offensively NCC will continue to count on Rob Marinec who is having another strong season after missing much of last year due to injury. The senior catcher is batting .423 with four home runs in 52 at bats.   Augustana has a 16-4 record headed into the week. Their ace Harrison Boushele has continued to improve every season on campus and is dominating opposition. He has a 1.23 ERA and 67 strikeouts in only 44 innings while only allowing 26 hits. Meanwhile Dymitri Kanellakis at the plate for Augustana. He is batting .480 over 20 games with 16 extra base hits and six stolen bases. 

There are two other matchups of of multiple games between ranked teams this week as #5 Baldwin Wallace will host #23 Marietta, and #9 Rowan hosts #17 Montclair State.

The Yellow Jackets have an impressive 17-4 record on the season, but this will be their first matchup against a fellow ranked club this spring. Senior Davson Gabe will likely get the start in one of the outings against the Pioneers as he has 35 strikeouts in 32 ⅓ innings and has been the team’s most formidable pitcher this year. Marietta has rejoined the rankings after dropping out early with a 4-4 start. However since then they’ve gone 12-2 with a series sweep over Cortland and a win over #24 Denison. The Pioneers’ pitching has been stupendous. Kail Hill has a 2.27 ERA and Brett Carson is currently at 1.37. Hill has earned 43 strikeouts over 35 ⅔ innings while only allowing 25 hits. Carson has struck out 24 batters in 19 ⅔ innings. Both have been utilized as a starter or in relief. 

Baldwin Wallace started last week, but then lost a game to #2 Salsbury and a doubleheader to William Paterson. The Profs pitching has been a bit uneven this season and they enter the week with a 5.28 team ERA. One Rowan hurler immune to struggle this spring has been Zach Grace. Grace, who transferred from Wake Forest, has 45 strikeouts in 30 innings with a 2.70 ERA. Montclair State averaged 13 ¼ runs last week as they went 3-1 to improve to 14-3 on the year. They are batting .347 as a team with three players in particular really ripping the cover off the ball. Miles Feaster is hitting .468 with seven doubles. He is also 10-10 in stolen bases. Sam Angelo is hitting .403 with five home runs, and Ryan McKenna has three triples, four home runs and is batting .382.

RankSchoolStateOverall Rec.Last WeekPrev Rank
1Birmingham-Southern PanthersAL27-32-11
2Salisbury SeagullsMD20-33-02
3Shenandoah HornetsVA23-24-03
4Lynchburg HornetsVA20-44-04
5Baldwin Wallace Yellow JacketsOH17-43-06
6Endicott GullsMA15-34-07
7Johns Hopkins Blue JaysMD21-24-09
8LaGrange PanthersGA18-61-08
9Rowan ProfsNJ13-62-35
10UW-Whitewater WarhawksWI10-33-110
11Aurora SpartansIL12-22-011
12UW-Stevens Point PointersWI10-63-113
13Christopher Newport CaptainsVA24-71-114
14Eastern Connecticut WarriorsCT17-34-019
15Claremont-Mudd-Scripps StagsCA18-72-115
16Augustana VikingsIL16-42-116
17Montclair State Red HawksNJ14-33-117
18Randolph-Macon Yellow JacketsVA19-53-118
19Catholic CardinalsDC17-33-121
20North Central CardinalsIL11-60-212
21Arcadia KnightsPA16-64-024
22Methodist MonarchsNC20-54-122
23Marietta PioneersOH16-63-0NR
24Denison Big RedOH14-43-023
25Bethel RoyalsMN8-40-020

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