DII/DIII/NAIA Rankings Update: Feb. 28

Photo: Darien Smith (Sydney Lenn)

All three top teams remain the same in the small school divisions, although a case could have been made for a change in DIII, but there really isn’t anyone else worthy of the title at this time. JHU may have went 1-2 last weekend, but they still are the team to beat. Tampa and Southeastern, two schools separated by a 40 minute drive (although it’s a much longer journey if you understandably stop at the Dinosaur World on the way), remain the top teams in their respective divisions. The Spartans and Fire actually met up on the diamond for a midweek matchup last week with UT holding on for the win. 


A little over ten years ago Francis Marion ended an impressive streak of elite baseball. They made three straight trips to the regional finals, consistently reached the 40 win plateau, finished in the top ten of the rankings and won multiple Peach Belt Conference titles. Since 2013; however, the Patriots have been quiet. They regularly have finished over .500, but well below the wealth of wins they compiled a decade ago. This year FMU is back to their old winning ways with one of the most impressive starts to the 2024 season. They’ve played three series against ranked opposition, and won them all.  They nearly swept UNC Pembroke last weekend, but the Braves won the finale in extra-innings. Nonetheless, the Patriots have made their second big jump in the rankings. After starting the season unranked, FMU is fifteenth, just one spot behind the defending national champion and preseason favorite Angelo State.

While there are enough accolades to go around, a special tip of the hat must be made to senior outfielder Zack Summerville. He is hitting .462 on the young season with eight extra base hits. On the mound Josh Adams and Chas DeBruhl have been masterful. Adams moved from the bullpen and has a 1.77 ERA and has held opposition to a .213 average over 20 ⅓ innings. DeBruhl has only allowed a single lonely earned run over 19 innings for a 0.47 ERA. 

The Patriots have another tough week ahead of them as they’ll host Belmont Abbey. The Crusaders advanced to a Super Regional last season and recently won a series over Barton who finished second in the Conference Carolinas’ standings last spring. 

Speaking of Patriots, UT Tyler rebounded from a slow start to the season to win a series against Angelo State. The Patriots scored at least eight runs in each of their games against the Rams. Lane Hutchinson was particularly impressive over the weekend as he had eight hits in 15 at bats with three doubles and a pair of home runs.

New to the rankings this week are Northwest Nazarene and Ashland. The Nighthawks split with third ranked Point Loma to start the season, swept College of Idaho (who just won two games against NAIA power Lewis-Clark State) and won three of four in Grand Junction over Colorado Mesa. Ashland started the season with a sweep of Concord.  

RkSchoolStateRecordLst WkPrev
1Tampa SpartansFL13-04-01
2North Greenville CrusadersSC13-24-12
3Point Loma Sea LionsCA11-33-13
4West Florida ArgosFL9-33-16
5Mount Olive TrojansNC8-33-19
6Young Harris Mountain LionsGA13-14-011
7UNC Pembroke BravesNC12-22-27
8Central Missouri MulesMO11-32-18
9Seton Hill GriffinsPA4-23-012
10Colorado Mesa MavericksCO6-61-35
11Georgia Southwestern HurricanesGA11-34-018
12Missouri Southern St. LionsMO14-34-117
13Millersville MaraudersPA7-23-014
14Angelo State RamsTX9-71-34
15Francis Marion PatriotsSC9-43-121
16Cal State Monterey Bay OttersCA7-53-113
17Augustana VikingsSD2-22-210
18Texas Tyler PatriotsTX9-73-124
19Barry BucsFL8-63-123
20Lenoir-Rhyne BearsNC11-42-215
21West Texas A&M BuffsTX11-31-119
22Cal State San Bernardino CoyotesCA8-61-316
23Northwest Nazarene NighthawksID10-2-13-1NR
24Minnesota State MavericksMN3-42-222
25Ashland EaglesOH2-02-0NR


The Fire continue to lead the NAIA with a win over Point Park and Saturday sweep of Southwestern Assemblies of God. Over the next weeks their win total should continue to grow with a handful of cold weather teams traveling into town as a part of the annual Russ Matt Tournament – although one of their upcoming competitors, Bellevue, did beat them last year. 

Southeastern did suffer a rare loss midweek against DII’s number one team, Tampa, as the Fire traveled down I-4 for the contest. The Spartans held on for a 10-7 win. Only a single inning of the game was pitched by SEU’s incredible duo of Robb Adams and Darien Smith. Adams has only allowed eight hits and three walks in 17 innings with 16 strikeouts. Smith has 49 strikeouts in 30 innings. For just the first time in five appearances Smith allowed more than a single earned run when Point Point scored twice against him over the weekend. Despite the runs his ERA on the season is still a scant 0.90. 

One of the strongest starts in the NAIA belongs to Doane. The Tigers began the season with a pair of wins over Columbia and added another pair of impressive victories over Oklahoma City. They lost their opening game of the Wildcat Classic in Kansas City last weekend, but came back to win three more of run their record to 9-1. The Tigers’ upcoming schedule can cement their status as a team to beat. They play ninth ranked Missouri Baptist in back-to-back weekends and then #15 Concordia (NE) for a pair on the road. 

Doane’s Joe Osborn and Aaron Forrest have played as advertised this spring. Osborne is playing his fifth year as a regular and is batting .412. Forrest is the reigning Great Plains Athletic Conference Pitcher of the Year. He has a 1.89 ERA and 23 strikeouts in 19 innings. 

Three teams joined the rankings this week: Freed-Hardeman, Webber International and Keiser. Of the trio the Lions have had the best start. They were 14-1 after the weekend, however they haven’t had too stringent of a schedule. That will change this week as they play Oklahoma City on the road. The Stars were the last team out of the rankings.

RkSchoolStateRecordLst WkPrev
1Southeastern FireFL14-23-11
2Georgia Gwinnett GrizzliesGA14-14-02
3LSU Shreveport PilotsLA13-22-15
4Cumberlands PatriotsKY10-24-16
5Lewis-Clark State WarriorsID5-32-23
6Vanguard LionsCA13-55-111
7Faulkner EaglesAL10-32-18
8William Carey CrusadersMS9-62-34
9Missouri Baptist SpartansMO10-43-17
10Tennessee Wesleyan BulldogsTN8-62-19
11Doane TigersNE9-13-112
12Central Methodist EaglesMO11-33-115
13USAO DroversOK10-53-114
14Loyola Wolf PackLA11-22-213
15Concordia BulldogsNE8-36-018
16Kansas Wesleyan CoyotesKS11-44-310
17Hope International RoyalsCA10-72-119
18Bellevue BruinsNE6-72-116
19Benedictine Mesa RedhawksAZ8-44-024
20Taylor TrojansIN6-73-020
21Indiana WesleyanIN4-31-117
22Freed-Hardeman LionsTN13-24-0NR
23Reinhardt EaglesGA8-73-125
24Webber International WarriorsFL13-35-0NR
25Keiser SeahawksFL13-22-0NR


John Hopkins remains the number one ranked team, despite not looking much like it over the weekend. They won their season opening with a shutout of Rutgers-Newark, but dropped their next two to Baldwin Wallace and Arcadia. The Blue Jays should have an easy upcoming weekend with games against Scranton and Juniata. One the middle of March arrives, the competition ramps up with three contests against teams in the top eleven: Salisbury, Endicott and Wisconsin LaCrosse. 

Shenandoah or East Baptist weren’t quite in a position yet to stake claim as DIII’s top team. While Shenandoah rolled over Widener and Lebanon Valley with a total of 72 runs over four games, they could only manage a split with Misericordia. ETBU similarly squashed Sul Ross State by a combined score of 44-8, but those wins only pushed them over .500 with a slow 3-3 start themselves. 

Still not a ton of movement in the rankings considering the division’s slow start. Only one team has played at least nine games and five have yet to hit the diamond. With many teams playing spring break trip to Florida that should soon change.

RkSchoolStateRecordLst WkPrev
1Johns Hopkins Blue JaysMD1-21-21
2East Texas Baptist TigersTX6-33-02
3Endicott GullsMA0-00-03
4Shenandoah HornetsVA5-13-14
5Eastern Connecticut WarriorsCT0-00-06
6Rowan ProfsNJ0-00-07
7Lynchburg HornetsVA4-22-18
8Misericordia CougarsPA2-12-19
9Christopher Newport CaptainsVA6-22-212
10Salisbury SeagullsMD4-21-210
11UW LaCrosse EaglesWI0-00-011
12Marietta PioneersOH0-40-45
13Cortland State Red DragonsNY3-43-114
14Salve Regina SeahawksRI2-12-113
15Birmingham-Southern PanthersAL5-13-015
16Baldwin Wallace Yellow JacketsOH3-12-116
17Denison Big RedOH2-12-117
18Case Western Reserve SpartansOH4-04-018
19UW-Whitewater WarhawksWI0-00-019
20Aurora SpartansIL2-02-020
21Montclair State Red HawksNJ2-12-121
22La Verne LeopardsCA4-04-022
23Benedictine EaglesIL2-02-023
24Washington BearsMO5-13-124
25Buena Vista BeaversIA5-13-025

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