Final Small School Rankings, Honors

Photo: Wingate Bulldogs (Wingate Athletics)

Each small school division’s national championship was determined recently and remarkably, each team that took home the title did so for the first time in their school history. Wingate lost their first game in Cary, but managed to win five straight elimination games against D-II’s stiffest competition. Not only was it the Bulldog’s first-ever title, but it was their first appearance in the final ever. In the NAIA it was only a matter of time before Georgia Gwinnett was crowned champion. It was the perennial power’s fourth appearance since the program debuted in 2013 and the Grizzlies third-straight trip to Lewiston. At the D-III level, something could similarly be said for Salisbury. While the Seagulls were making their sixth trip to the World Series since 2001, they had yet to finish on top.  

The final 2021 rankings for each division follow along with selections for individual awards. Top performers at the plate, on the mound and in the dugout are honored as the player and pitcher of the year are named, as well as a selection for each division’s most valuable player and top head coach.


117Wingate BulldogsNC39-13
21Central Missouri MulesMO46-8
32Angelo State RamsTX44-9
49Tampa SpartansFL23-6
57Seton Hill GriffinsPA39-8
66West Florida ArgosFL37-11
78West Texas A&M BuffsTX34-9
83Colorado Mesa MavericksCO42-7
912Mount Olive TrojansNC37-12
105North Greenville CrusadersSC34-13
114Augustana VikingsSD36-13
1215Columbus State CougarsGA31-16
1323Southern Arkansas MuleridersAR30-16
14NRNorthwest Nazarene NighthawksID35-10
1511Catawba IndiansNC33-11
1613Minnesota State MavericksMN39-10
17NRTrevecca Nazarene TrojansTN36-13
1816Lee FlamesTN36-11
1914Azusa Pacific CougarsCA33-10
2010Illinois Springfield Prairie StarsIL37-8
2119Millersville MaraudersPA30-15
2224Southern New Hampshire PenmenNH28-9
2320Lindenwood LionsMO34-9
2418UC Colorado Spring Mountain LionsCO30-13
25NRDavenport PanthersMI33-16

Player of the Year
Haydn McGeary, Colorado Mesa – McGeary, who powered the Mavericks to the top spot in the rankings the second half of the season, is an easy choice for the NCAA D-II Player of the Year. He led the nation with 88 hits, which included 26 doubles and 20 home runs to amass a spectacular .973 slugging percentage, which also led all of D-II. 

Pitcher of the Year
Zach Parish, Missouri Southern – Parrish put up remarkable numbers as he had a scant 1.21 ERA over 89 1/3 innings in which he only allowed 50 hits while striking out 136 batters. He finished his astonishing college career with 488 strikeouts, which is tops in NCAA D-II history.

Most Valuable Player
John Michael Faile, North Greenville – Faile finished tied for tops in NCAA D-II with 23 home runs while batting a remarkable .438 as the Crusaders’ catcher. He led the competitive Conference Carolinas in multiple categories including batting average, slugging percentage, runs scored, hits, RBI and home runs. His contributions at, as well as behind, the plate were a major reason the team spent almost the entire season in the top ten of the national rankings.

Coach of the Year
Joe Schaefer, Northwest Nazarene – In just his third season as the head coach at NNU, Schaefer led his team all the way to Cary, N.C. and the NCAA D-Baseball Championships. Even more remarkable was that the trip east came during the team’s first ever NCAA postseason appearance. The Nighthawks’ 35-10 final record was a substantial improvement over their previous two seasons in which they went a combined 33-31 and unquestionably had much to do with the leadership of Schafer. In addition to earning their way to the final eight, NNU also won just their second GNAC title in school history.


13Georgia Gwinnett GrizzliesGA51-10
24Central Methodist EaglesMO49-8
31Southeastern FireFL51-9
42Tennessee Wesleyan BulldogsTN53-6
55Faulkner EaglesAL40-12
66Indiana Southeast GrenadiersIN50-16
78LSU Shreveport PilotsLA44-14
87Cumberlands PatriotsKY46-8
99Lewis-Clark State WarriorsID44-6
1013Keiser SeahawksFL37-18
1110Oklahoma Wesleyan EaglesOK49-11
1211William Carey CrusadersMS36-12
1312USAO DroversOK34-12
1414Vanguard LionsCA40-16
1515Concordia BulldogsNE42-12
1616Oklahoma City StarsOK36-19
1717Bryan LionsTN37-18
1818Middle Georgia State KnightsGA36-20
1919Loyola WolfpackLA36-15
2020Antelope Valley PioneersCA18-5
2121Hope International RoyalsCA29-15
2222Benedictine Mesa RedhawksAZ32-16
2323Indiana Wesleyan WildcatsIN44-14
2424Columbia CougarsMO27-11
2525St. Thomas BobcatsFL34-21

Player of the Year
Gary Mattis, Tennessee Wesleyan – Mattis earns the nod, barely besting Cody Muncy of Oklahoma Wesleyan and Bryan Leef of Cumberlands. Each of the trio put up remarkable numbers and are deserving of the title, but Mattis gets the edge. Mattis batted .408 with 21 doubles and 25 home runs to compile a .896 slugging percentage, which was eighth nationally. In addition to his high-caliber hitting, he was also the team’s primary shortstop and only had six errors in 208 chances. Mattis also added 27 stolen bases for the Bulldogs, who spent almost the entire season as the top-ranked team.

Pitcher of the Year
Pablo Arevalo, Keiser – It is difficult to look at the numbers put up by Point Park’s Ruben Ramirez and Concordia’s Jake Fosgett and imagine someone else being even more dominant, but somehow Arevalo did just that. Of his 17 starts, Arevalo threw a complete game in 10 of them and four of those were shutouts. In 126 1/3 innings on the mound he only allowed 99 hits and seven walks while striking out 118 batters. He finished with a 1.50 ERA on the season, which was third nationally and was a major reason the Seahawks advanced to the NAIA World Series.

Most Valuable Player
Mason Schwellenbach, Central Methodist – The Eagles advanced to the NAIA World Series for the first time in 2021 and it is doubtful they could have made it to Lewiston without the effort of Schwellenbach. Schwellenbach threw 87 2/3 total innings over 15 starts on the mound in which he struck out 113 batters. He finished with a 2.26 ERA and held opposition to a .218 batting average. When he wasn’t pitching, Schwellenbach played DH and the outfield for CMU and batted .377 with 12 home runs. In the regular season, he earned Heart First Team All-Conference honors as both a pitcher and a utility player.

Coach of the Year
Bobby Halford, William Carey – In his 36th season as the head coach of the Crusaders, Halford showed once again why he had been inducted into the William Carey Sports Hall of Fame. After two down seasons in 2019 and 2020 in which the team finished with a very un-Carey-like 35-37 combined record, Halford’s team returned to their winning ways and nearly made it back to Lewiston once again. The Crusaders ended the year 36-12 with a balanced team which excelled at the plate, on the mound, and on defense.


13Salisbury SeagullsMD34-4
21Washington BearsMO34-6
320St. Thomas TommiesMN37-10
49Cortland State Red DragonsNY33-9
513Adrian BulldogsMI37-10
62Webster GorloksMO37-8
75Marietta PioneersOH38-6
84UW-Whitewater WarhawksWI40-7
98Rowan ProfsNJ29-6
1010North Central CardinalsIL38-9
116Trinity TigersTX28-9
127Southern Maine HuskiesME34-11
1319Johns Hopkins Blue JaysMD15-6
1411Texas Lutheran BulldogsTX30-14
1512Aurora SpartansIL38-8
1625Wheaton LyonsMA21-7
1714Shenandoah HornetsVA31-11
1815North Carolina Wesleyan Battling BishopsNC33-10
1917Chapman PanthersCA15-6
20NRBirmingham-Southern PanthersAL28-16
2118LaGrange PanthersGA24-10
2216Washington & Jefferson PresidentsPA37-3
2321Eastern Connecticut State WarriorsCT32-8
24NRTufts JumbosMA15-8
25NRDenison Big RedOH27-13

Player of the Year
Adam Zebrowski, St. John Fisher – The Cardinals’ catcher has been a lock for every major award as he nearly won the NCAA D-III triple crown, as he was second in batting with a .500 average and first in home runs and RBI with totals of 20 and 70, respectively. He had 22 multi-hit games and finished the season with a 31-game hitting streak. In addition to his offense, he had a .992 fielding percentage and threw out 5-of-13 would-be base stealers.

Pitcher of the Year
Matt Mulhearn, Webster – Like Zebrowski, Mulhearn has been an easy choice for an arsenal of awards this year. In 100 innings on the mound he only allowed 62 hits and 10 walks while striking out 137 batters. His ERA was 0.90 and opponents batted a meager .178 against him. Mulhearn was credited with the win in 12 of the Gorloks’ 37 wins this season. His dozen wins gave him 34 for his career, which is not only a school record, but tops all-time in the SLIAC as well.

Most Valuable Player
Kavi Caster, Salisbury – Salisbury won their first ever national title and their sophomore outfielder Kavi Caster was a major reason why the Seagulls finished on top. In his first full season, Caster was second on the team with a .371 average while leading the club in practically every other offensive category including doubles, home runs, total bases, runs, RBI and stolen bases. In Salisbury’s five games at the D-III College World Series, Caster was 9-for-22 and drove in what would be the winning run in the title game.

Coach of the Year
Chris Olean, St. Thomas – In his first five years as the head coach of the Tommies, Olean led the team to first place finishes in the MIAC; however, the team hadn’t quite performed up to the St. Thomas standard the last couple of seasons with a good-but-not-great 46-36 overall record the past three years. This year is the Tommies last of the school’s D-III era, as they will transition to D-I, and they finished with a remarkable run. Olean’s team went 11-5 in the postseason, which included seven comeback victories and a pair of walk-off wins. They finished runner-up to Salisbury at the D-III College World Series and concluded the year with a 37-10 record.

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