Jan. 28, 2009

Courtesy of NFCA

STARKVILLE, Miss. - Defending national runner-up Wisconsin-Whitewater received four first-place votes, taking the No. 1 spot in the preseason NFCA Division III Top 25 Poll, the association announced Wednesday.

Wisconsin-Whitewater returns all but two starters to a team that finished 2008 with a 39-11 record, finishing second in the nation to Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference rival Wisconsin-Eau Claire, which starts out the 2009 season in the No. 2 spot after its national championship season a year ago.

Louisiana College starts 2009 in the same place it finished last season, at No. 3, after a third-place national championship finish, while Texas-Tyler takes the No. 4 spot. UT-Tyler spent four weeks at No. 1 last year before finishing third in its first-ever NCAA regional appearance. Perennial national power St. Thomas rounds out the top five after finishing 42-5 last season.

Cortland State and Lynchburg, national championship participants, take the No. 6 and No. 8 spots, respectively, while 2007 national championship contender DePauw is sandwiched between at No. 7. West power Chapman starts at No. 9., while Tufts, a team that finished 30-11 a year ago, rounds out the top 10.

No. 11 Muskingum looks to improve upon its fifth-place finish at the national championship, as Mary Hardin-Baylor takes the No. 12 spot after a 35-11 record in 2008. No. 13 Luther returns both top pitchers to a 30-12 squad that failed to get a regional bid, while 33-6 Moravian takes the No. 14 spot.

No. 15 Ursinus returns all starters to a squad that just missed out on the national championship, finishing 33-8. Rochester and Washington-St. Louis share the No. 16 spot, while two-time defending New England regional champion Rhode Island College starts at No. 18. No. 19 Methodist is followed by Pacific, which finished 31-9 a year ago.

Perennial Top 25 power Ithaca starts 2009 at No. 21, followed by Denison and Willamette in the Nos. 22 and 23 slots, respectively. No. 24 Illinois Wesleyan finished 30-11 last season, while Coe, at 31-14, rounds out the rankings at No. 25.