DII/DIII/NAIA Rankings Update: March 20

Photo: Joey Rezek (North Carolina Pembroke Athletics)

The top teams remain the same in each of the three small school conferences with Tampa, Southeastern and East Texas Baptist going a combined 10-1 on the week. With temperatures heating up and several teams playing full schedules as part of spring break there were a lot of innings played across the country. Overall most teams performed as anticipated with few major moves in the rankings. 


RkSchoolStateRecordLst WeekPrev Rk
1Tampa SpartansFL22-22-11
2Central Missouri MulesMO22-43-14
3Point Loma Sea LionsCA18-7-13-13
4West Florida ArgosFL17-63-06
5UNC Pembroke BravesNC20-62-19
6North Greenville CrusadersSC21-62-22
7Millersville MaraudersPA18-34-07
8Young Harris Mountain LionsGA21-56-18
9Angelo State RamsTX20-93-111
10Mount Olive TrojansNC16-81-15
11Missouri Southern St. LionsMO23-53-110
12Seton Hill GriffinsPA12-53-012
13St. Leo LionsFL21-33-116
14Ashland EaglesOH12-22-117
15Cal State Monterey Bay OttersCA17-74-015
16Augustana VikingsSD13-43-214
17Georgia Southwestern HurricanesGA19-72-213
18Colorado Mesa MavericksCO13-83-018
19West Texas A&M BuffsTX19-73-120
20Catawba IndiansNC19-64-021
21North Georgia NighthawksGA19-45-0NR
22Southern Arkansas MuleridersAR17-61-219
23Lubbock Christian ChaparralsTX18-81-122
24Northwest Nazarene NighthawksID16-4-14-024
25East Stroudsburg WarriorsPA15-34-0NR

Dropped: Texas Tyler (23), Francis Marion (25)

The Conference Carolinas is the top conference in DII this season with four teams currently in the top ten. North Greenville, UNC Pembroke, Mount Olive and Young Harris each have their schools among the nation’s elite as the quartet has a combined 78-25 record. Two of those schools are recent additions to the conference as they played previously in the Peach Belt Conference. UNCP joined the CC in 2022, and this is YHC’s inaugural season.  

UNCP has consistently been one of top teams under Head Coach Paul O’Neil since he took over the team prior to the 2001 season.  Despite having only a single sub .500 season since 2003 and consistently reaching or nearly 40 wins annually, the Braves have yet to advance out of regional play. The team certainly looks to have that ability this spring. The Braves’ 20-6 record moved them into the top ten in early editions of the rankings and advanced to the fifth position this week after securing a series win over North Greenville over the weekend. It’s scary to think how good this team would have been had two of their still eligible top players from last year hadn’t moved on as one transferred to New Mexico and the other signed a professional contract. 

As has become their modus operandi, the Braves are winning games with a brutish offense. They have nine players who have started at least 15 games who are batting no less than .305. Blake Hinon is leading the team with a .468 average in 62 at bats and has 11 stolen bases despite only having a pair of hits in 16 at bats last season. Joey Rezak has also thrived this season. The former East Carolina prospect only batted .259 last season, but is crushing the ball this year with a .378 average and team leading eight home runs. 

While the starting pitching has been solid, the bullpen has done a tremendous job shutting down opposition late. Chase Jernigan has a 1.71 ERA over 21 innings in which he has only allowed 13 hits while striking out 29 batters. Jacob Smith has limited opposition to a .152 average in his seven appearances. 

The Braves have another tough weekend as they will travel to #10 Mount Olive this weekend. 

Young Harris has been a solid school on the diamond under Head Coach Stephen Waggener. Immediately upon taking over the reins in 2018, the Mountain Lions earned 11 more wins than the previous season and they earned their first appearance in the Peach Belt tournament. The next season they set a program record for PBC wins and won their first-ever PBC tournament title. After COVID shorented the 2020 season, YHC established a school conference record for wins once again and had their best ever finish in the conference standings. In 2022 they set a program record with 39 wins and last season they nearly reached that record plateau once again with 38 victories on the season as they advanced to the PBC Championship series. 

With an experienced roster the Mountain Lions opened the season as the 21st ranked team in the Perfect Game DII rankings, and so far they’ve surpassed those expectations. Entering the week the Mountain Lions have a 21-5 record, and with series wins over Columbus State and Barton, and six wins last week, they’ve advanced all the way into the top ten. YHC is currently ranked eighth in the nation and with another solid performance this week, will set themselves up for a series with new conference-mate North Greenville, in a top ten clash at the end of the month. 

Jermey Begora was named the 2023 Peach Belt Player of the Year and putting together another splendid season. He is hitting .341 with a 1.072 OPS thanks in part to his 12 extra base hits and 13 HBPs. Despite those impressive numbers, it’s graduate student Steven Spell who is leading the offense. Spell is hitting .391 with eight doubles, three home runs and seven stolen bases. 

YHC’s starting pitching has been marvelous with Zachary Murray and Zach Hart being difficult to beat. Murray has a 2.38 ERA and has only allowed 30 hits over 45 ⅓ innings. Hart, who was the NJCAA Region 19 Pitcher of the Year at Delaware Tech, has been solid in his first seven DII outings with 28 strikeouts with only nine walks in 33 innings. However the true ace of the team has been out of the bullpen. Dylan Beck has been masterful in relief. He has appeared in a dozen games this season in which he has a 0.80 ERA while limiting opposition to a .220 average. 


RkSchoolStateRecordLst WeekPrev Rk
1Southeastern FireFL23-24-01
2LSU Shreveport PilotsLA21-22-03
3Georgia Gwinnett GrizzliesGA23-52-32
4Cumberlands PatriotsKY23-44-04
5Faulkner EaglesAL20-73-15
6Central Methodist EaglesMO21-43-06
7William Carey CrusadersMS16-94-012
8Webber International WarriorsFL21-70-48
9Missouri Baptist SpartansMO16-73-09
10Tennessee Wesleyan BulldogsTN17-95-015
11Concordia BulldogsNE16-50-011
12Doane TigersNE14-40-27
13Kansas Wesleyan CoyotesKS18-74-018
14Benedictine Mesa RedhawksAZ18-72-113
15William Jessup WarriorsCA23-43-021
16Lewis-Clark State WarriorsID13-73-114
17Loyola Wolf PackLA17-81-310
18Bellevue BruinsNE15-94-020
19Vanguard LionsCA19-112-216
20Hope International RoyalsCA16-93-019
21Reinhardt EaglesGA17-102-217
22Taylor TrojansIN17-96-025
23Oklahoma City StarsOK18-103-123
24Ottawa (OUAZ) SpiritAZ21-82-1NR
25*Keiser SeahawksFL19-71-322
25*Freed-Hardeman LionsTN22-63-124

Two teams which were highly ranked to start the season, but both slid considerably after slow starts, look to be back to their winning ways. Both William Carey and Tennessee Wesleyan rejoined the top ten this week as they went a combined 9-0 and look much more the teams were anticipated to be.

William Carey was fourth in the initial rankings as their offense, which hit .338 as a team, slugged .554 and stole .94 bases, was largely intact. Alas, WCU started the year 11-9. They’ve since won five straight which includes a mercy-rule win and two stellar pitching performances that saw opposition only score a single run.  TWU has the same unsensational start with a 9-10 record to start the year. However after being swept by Rienhardt, the Bulldogs have won eight straight and averaged 11 runs per game.  

Also making a big jump once again are the Jessup Warriors.  The Warriors struggled last season and finished the year with a 18-22-1 record, but have been nearly unbeatable in 2024. After moving into the rankings last week following their series win over OUAZ, Jessup swept Arizona Christian to move to 23-4. The wins included the 150th under Head Coach Trevor Paine and a hitting masterclass by Bryce Petrilla who went 7-10 with three home in three straight at-bats.

In what would have been a showdown of top team in the midwest, a double-header between #12 Doane and #11 Concordia (NE) was postponed due to unplayable field conditions. The impending series did lose a little luster after York surprisingly won a pair over the Tigers midweek to bump them from the top ten. Perhaps the rescheduled contests will coincide with Joey Grabanski reaching the NAIA all time home run record. With five home runs this season, the slugger is 10 away from earning the title. 

Scorching hot Webber International went 0-4 this week which more than doubled their season loss total. Nevertheless, WIU wasn’t punished for the defeats. Each of the losses were a part of a series sweep by top ranked Southeastern. Although the Fire won all four games, each were close with SEU needing a late rally to win the opener. The Warriors are still a top contender to capture the NAIA title and potentially become the second NAIA champion name dropped on a Hulu television program following the mention of Daria Pająk on What We Do in the Shadows.

Outside the Top 25, the Columbia Cougars are looking like a juggernaut ready to return to the rankings. They outscored their opposition 71-6 last week. Like William Carey and Tennessee Wesleyan, they shouldn’t be counted out despite a slower than anticipated start.


RkSchoolStateRecordLst WeekPrev Rk
1East Texas Baptist TigersTX15-44-01
2Endicott GullsMA9-03-02
3Salisbury SeagullsMD13-35-05
4Shenandoah HornetsVA14-22-13
5Rowan ProfsNJ9-24-14
6Johns Hopkins Blue JaysMD7-43-16
7Denison Big RedOH12-25-09
8Salve Regina SeahawksRI11-14-08
9Lynchburg HornetsVA11-63-17
10Baldwin Wallace Yellow JacketsOH12-33-110
11UW LaCrosse EaglesWI5-25-211
12Christopher Newport CaptainsVA10-52-013
13La Verne LeopardsCA10-33-0-119
14UW-Whitewater WarhawksWI9-36-125
15Eastern Connecticut WarriorsCT6-55-112
16Montclair State Red HawksNJ12-23-116
17Aurora SpartansIL10-32-117
18Birmingham-Southern PanthersAL12-73-215
19Benedictine EaglesIL11-13-121
20Trinity TigersTX11-52-223
21Misericordia CougarsPA9-72-214
22Washington BearsMO13-54-224
23Pomona-Pitzer SagehensCA16-52-1NR
24Cortland State Red DragonsNY6-82-1-120
25NC Wesleyan Battling BishopsNC13-43-0NR

Dropped: Case Western Reserve (18), Marietta (22)

With a win over Trinity (TX) and sweep of Howard Payne, East Texas Baptist holds on to the number one position but there are a slew of teams right behind them. Endicott has won their first nine games of the season, but haven’t been tested yet. They’ll play both Johns Hopkins and Wisconsin Stevens Point this week in Florida. If they win both those games and continue to be undefeated, it’ll be hard not to have them jump the Tigers. Salisbury won five games last week, but each of the wins pale in comparison to their win over JHU the previous Sunday in Baltimore. Shenandoah improved to 14-2 on the season, but lost their last game of the week to Guilford 23-22. They nearly came back to win that game as they scored nine runs in the ninth and had the tying run on third, but the game was called due to darkness. 

The biggest move of the week was made by Wisconsin-Whitewater who jumped nine positions to number 14. The Warhawks went 7-1 on their spring trip which included a pair of wins over Birmingham-Southern.

Eastern Connecticut State and Cortland State don’t have impressive records, but the Warriors and Dragons are ready to pile up wins. ECSU had a slow start with a pair of quality losses to Shenandoah to start the season, but have won five in a row on a jaunt through Ohio. They start conference play this week and have a big matchup next week against Salve Regina which has the potential to be a feather in the cap for either club. Cortland’s first seven games were against teams currently ranked in the top twelve. They tied #13 LaVerne and won a series at Chapman last week.

Despite their series win over East Texas Baptist to start the season, it took until this week to put Pomona-Pitzer in the Top 25. With a 16-5 record at week’s end, the Sagehens look legit. They won a series over a far from home Tufts team over the weekend. 

Also joining the rankings this week was North Carolina Wesleyan. The Battling Bishops swept Pfeiffer to improve to 13-4 on the season.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *