DII/DIII/NAIA Rankings Update: March 13

Photo: Sayers Collins (East Texas Baptist Athletics)

While Tampa and Southeastern have a stranglehold on their respective division’s number one positions, John Hopkins’ lost their spot at the top of the DIII food chain. JHU is 6-3 on the season, which isn’t terrible by any means, but not up to top team standards. Last season the Blue Jays didn’t lose their third game until April 8th and they had 23 wins at the time. While there were a number of suitable candidates, the new number one is East Texas Baptist. The Tigers have been the second ranked season during the duration of the young season after being one of the final four last year.


The Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletics Association is home to two of the top teams in the DII. Central Missouri and Missouri Southern are both in the top ten and have a combined 39-7 record.

After losing two of their first three games Central Missouri has been one of the top teams in DII. The Mules improved their record to 19-3 after sweeping Northwest Missouri State last weekend. UCM has won eight in a row and 18 of their last 19 games to move into fourth in the overall rankings. The two-time national champions have a prolific offense which is batting .378 and slugging .665 while stealing over three bases per game.

Chase Heath has emerged to lead the offense. In the previous two seasons he only had a pair of homeruns in 125 at bats with a .288 average. This season he’s already hit seven homers with a .463 average. He’s also walked 14 times while only striking out twice. The Mules are also having another strong season by All-American Vance Tobol. He’s hitting .417 with five home runs and nine stolen bases. Connor Wolf has continued his ascension to elite status with another strong season on the mound. He has a 2.31 ERA and has only allowed 17 hits over 35 innings. 

Meanwhile Missouri Southern has proven to be nearly just as imposing. They swept Newman and Emporia State the past two weekends to improve to 20-4. The Lions are hitting .332 and have scored double-digit runs in 11 games.  Henry Kusiak, who has already earned recognition as an elite fielder, has taken the offense to another level. He is batting .432 with eight home runs and has a .562 OB% thanks to 19 walks and 11 HBPs. Drew Townsend, a transfer from nearby Missouri State, has stepped into the leadoff position and contributed immediately. He’s batting .395 with five home runs and five stolen bases. Cole Gayman had a 5.93 ERA over 94 innings the past two seasons, yet has a 1.59 ERA in six starts this season. He has only allowed 17 hits over 34 innings while striking out 35 batters. 

Catawba and Lubbock Christian both entered the rankings this week after being absent the past couple of seasons. The Indians have had one of their best starts in recent history with a 15-6 record. Their victories include series wins over Columbus State and Lenoir-Rhyne and a lopsided sweep of Emory & Henry last week in which they outscored the Wasps 41-6. The Chaps have scored double-digit runs in eight of their last nine games with each of them being wins. Last weekend they swept St. Mary’s. Carson Ogilvie is batting .392 with 11 doubles, five triples and five home runs.

Continue to keep an eye on surging Ashland. The Eagles have won seven straight with wins over Seton Hill and Grand Valley State.

RkSchoolStateRecordLst WkPrev
1Tampa SpartansFL20-13-11
2North Greenville CrusadersSC19-43-12
3Point Loma Sea LionsCA15-6-13-13
4Central Missouri MulesMO19-34-05
5Mount Olive TrojansNC13-73-24
6West Florida ArgosFL14-62-16
7Millersville MaraudersPA13-33-010
8Young Harris Mountain LionsGA15-41-08
9UNC Pembroke BravesNC17-52-27
10Missouri Southern St. LionsMO20-43-011
11Angelo State RamsTX17-84-012
12Seton Hill GriffinsPA9-53-29
13Georgia Southwestern HurricanesGA17-54-014
14Augustana VikingsSD10-24-016
15Cal State Monterey Bay OttersCA13-73-115
16St. Leo LionsFL17-24-018
17Ashland EaglesOH10-15-025
18Colorado Mesa MavericksCO9-82-113
19Southern Arkansas MuleridersAR16-41-117
20West Texas A&M BuffsTX16-63-120
21Catawba IndiansNC15-63-0NR
22Lubbock Christian ChaparralsTX17-74-0NR
23Texas Tyler PatriotsTX14-103-122
24Northwest Nazarene NighthawksID12-4-10-024
25Francis Marion PatriotsSC11-81-219

Drop: Lenoir-Rhyne (21), Grand Valley State (23)


Webber International has raced up the rankings and entered the top ten after another strong week on the diamond. After sweeping Ave Maria to start the month, the Warriors had a pair of 10-run wins along with victories over some of the midwest’s top teams, Bellevue and Morningside. The wins set up this week’s top matchup with the Warriors hosting top ranked Southeastern in a four game series. It doesn’t get much easier the next week as they travel to Keiser. 

Another school which has taken substantial steps up the rankings table is Central Methodist. Despite losing the Heart Conference Player of the Year and Pitcher of the Year, the Eagles have dominated in 2024 with an 18-4 record.  The Eagles won a series over William Penn last weekend and should continue to earn wins the next three weeks with 12 straight games at home. 

A trio of newcomers have pushed the team into the top ten. Outfielder Carlos Negron, a transfer from Bryant & Stratton, is one of the NAIA’s top sluggers this season. He has 12 home runs in 68 at bats and is slashing .515/.605/1.176. Second baseman Valentine Cerna Jr. who hit .391 last season at College of Lake County, is batting .474 and has a .554 OB%. Zeb Wede from Ellsworth CC is batting .354. The starting pitching has been exceptional with both Clayton Burke and Sebastian Escobar putting up strong numbers. Both have sub .300 ERAs and are averaging over a strikeout per inning. 

Returning to the Top 25 for the first time since the final rankings of 2019 are the William Jessup Warriors. Jessup won two of three over OUAZ at home to take the Spirit’s spot in the rankings. They improved to 20-4 on the season and are the early leaders in the Golden State Athletics Conference standings. The Warriors have series with Arizona Christian and The Master’s the next two weeks which will give them an opportunity to solidify their status as a national contender. 

Senior transfers Trey Furrey and Connor Culp have been beasts at the plate this spring. Furrey returned to his native state of California from Oklahoma Baptist. He is hitting .487 with 10 home runs and 10 stolen bases. Culp played sparingly at UNLV and CSU Bakersfield the past two years. Now at Jessup, he has emerged to hit .403 with ten home runs himself. 

Keep watch on Freed-Hardeman. The Lions have two top freshmen in Jordan Carter and Cade Fuller who have helped the team to a 19-5 record. Carter is hitting .324 and leading the team with seven doubles. Fuller’s seven home runs top FHU and he is batting .316 with eight stolen bases.

RkSchoolStateRecordLst WkPrev
1Southeastern FireFL19-23-01
2Georgia Gwinnett GrizzliesGA21-25-02
3LSU Shreveport PilotsLA19-23-03
4Cumberlands PatriotsKY19-45-15
5Faulkner EaglesAL17-62-16
6Central Methodist EaglesMO18-43-18
7Doane TigersNE14-21-17
8Webber International WarriorsFL21-34-017
9Missouri Baptist SpartansMO13-72-011
10Loyola Wolf PackLA16-52-210
11Concordia BulldogsNE16-56-112
12William Carey CrusadersMS12-92-19
13Benedictine Mesa RedhawksAZ16-64-113
14Lewis-Clark State WarriorsID10-61-34
15Tennessee Wesleyan BulldogsTN12-93-016
16Vanguard LionsCA17-94-114
17Reinhardt EaglesGA15-83-118
18Kansas Wesleyan CoyotesKS14-73-019
19Hope International RoyalsCA13-93-121
20Bellevue BruinsNE11-94-215
21William Jessup WarriorsCA20-44-1NR
22Keiser SeahawksFL18-44-025
23Oklahoma City StarsOK15-91-122
24Freed-Hardeman LionsTN19-53-223
25Taylor TrojansIN11-91-120

Drop: Ottawa (24)

Despite losing two of their first three games Johns Hopkins retained their number one position in the rankings in the subsequent update; however after JHU barely edged Rutgers-Camden and lost late to Salisbury, the Blue Jays were moved from the top spot. The new number one team are the ETBU Tigers. 

The Tigers started slow themselves, losing a series to Pomona-Pitzer, but have since won 10 of 12 with wins over Lynchburg and Millikin, a thrashing of Sul Ross State in which they outscored the Lobos 44-8, a road sweep of Concordia Texas and a series win over #19 La Verne last week. With two upcoming games against perennial power Trinity ETBU has an opportunity to solidify their position as DIII’s top team the next two weeks.

When Sayers Collins is on the mound, the Tigers are near unbeatable.  To say that Collins has been phenomenal this season would be a monster understatement. He has thrown 27 innings over four starts and only allowed six hits while striking out 24. He hasn’t allowed a single run and opponents are batting a measly .069. While those numbers would be ridiculous to maintain, don’t expect that they will get much worse. Collins struck out 135 batters last year and earned American Southwest Conference Pitcher of the Year honors the last two seasons. The Tigers also have Hayden Robichaux on the mound who has struck out 16 batters in only 8 ⅓ innings and senior Jacob Sherman who has looked good in two starts so far with a 3.52 ERA. 

On offense ETBU has seven starts batting over .300 – and that’s without Ben Lea who was one of DIII’s top hitters last season and set the school record with 24 home runs. Lea missed the first 14 games of the season. The Tigers’ offense has been buoyed by Jacob Evangelista who is batting .323 and already has 18 stolen bases, and Brett Wagner who has nine extra base hits and his batting .313. 

In addition to hosting Trinity midweek, ETBU welcomes Howard Payne to campus for a three game series this weekend. 

While ETBU is the new number one, there were several other teams considered worthy of the top spot. Endicott is 6-0 and their pitching staff has only allowed more than a single earned run in one game through the weekend. Shenandoah is 12-1 and winners of their last ten games with wins over Eastern Connecticut State and Misericordia. Rowan and Salisbury are also looking strong so far. The Profs have scored double-digit runs in four of six of their wins with a victory over Aurora, and the Seagulls swept three games from Cortland and also have a win over Marietta.

Although they lost a game to Kean on Sunday, Denison has made a big jump in the rankings. The Big Red moved from 16th into the top ten. On the season they have wins over two teams which have been ranked in the top ten this season – Salisbury and Cortland. They play Baldwin Wallace this week and Marietta soon after. Wins over the pair should keep in the top ten for the remainder of the season. Starting at the end of the month Denison enters North Coast Athletic Conference play. They were a perfect 19-0 record against NCAC competition last year.

RkSchoolStateRecordLst WkPrev
1East Texas Baptist TigersTX11-42-12
2Endicott GullsMA6-03-03
3Shenandoah HornetsVA12-13-04
4Rowan ProfsNJ5-14-07
5Salisbury SeagullsMD8-33-012
6Johns Hopkins Blue JaysMD4-31-11
7Lynchburg HornetsVA8-53-18
8Salve Regina SeahawksRI8-13-014
9Denison Big RedOH7-22-116
10Baldwin Wallace Yellow JacketsOH9-25-017
11UW LaCrosse EaglesWI0-00-011
12Eastern Connecticut WarriorsCT1-41-16
13Christopher Newport CaptainsVA8-50-29
14Misericordia CougarsPA7-53-25
15Birmingham-Southern PanthersAL9-51-315
16Montclair State Red HawksNJ9-14-020
17Aurora SpartansIL8-23-218
18Case Western Reserve SpartansOH6-31-119
19La Verne LeopardsCA7-31-222
20Cortland State Red DragonsNY4-70-310
21Benedictine EaglesIL8-06-023
22Marietta PioneersOH5-74-313
23Trinity TigersTX9-34-1NR
24Washington BearsMO9-33-025
25UW-Whitewater WarhawksWI3-21-021

Drop: Buena Vista (24)

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