Breaking down the DII field
Notes: Southern Indiana has pitching as it aims for second title
Adelphi is riding high following its first Northeast-10 championship and will attempt to turn that momentum into an NCAA Division II finals berth this week in the East Regional at Pappas Field in Rindge, N.H.
The Panthers (33-12-2), in the regional for the first time since 2009, have been fueled by the play of Omar Valazquez. He is hitting .354 with 39 runs scored and 30 runs driven in. He has also belted five home runs.
Robert Nixon has been tough on the mound for the Panthers, fashioning a 10-1 record with a 1.50 ERA.
• Southern Connecticut should be a legit challenger for the regional crown. The Owls (38-6-1) are seeking their first trip to the college world series since 2005 and have tied a record for wins in a season.
The pitching staff has been a key to their success. They have a team ERA of 1.58 and opponents are hitting just .221 against them. The staff has allowed only 84 earned runs and Michael Johnston has struck out 33 while ringing up 12 saves.
“I am very pleased with the way we have pitched and played defense,” Owls head coach Timothy Shea said. “Our team defense is one of the best in the region.”
And Chris Zbin, a semifinalist for the Tino Martinez award, is one of the best players in the nation. The star pitcher is 9-2 with a 1.31 ERA and has struck out 105 while walking only 24 batters.
• Franklin Pierce has the East Region pitcher of the year. Ryan Thompson has been sensational as the transfer from Connecticut is 10-1 with a 1.05 ERA. He has 113 strikeouts, third most in the country, and is one of the reasons the Ravens (38-12) will have a chance to defend their regional title.
• Dowling won the East Coast Conference title and will count on Joe Candela to help keep the season going. Candela is batting .325 and has tallied 55 hits, including 14 doubles and six triples, for the golden Lions (25-24).
• Massachusetts-Lowell is making its first NCAA tournament trip since 2007 and enters the tourney with one of the top pitching staffs in the country. Its team ERA (1.84) is the second best in the country and Jack Leathersich has led the way, striking out a school-record 115 batters.
• Wilmington (37-10 won the Central Atlantic Collegiate Conference title and will look to league tourney MVP Mike Godwin to help pave the way in the regional. Godwin is batting .347 and has knocked in 44 runs.
West Florida has the luxury of hosting the NCAA Division II South Regional at Jim Spooner Field, and there is no question that the Argonauts will be tough to beat at home.
West Florida owns a 30-1 record at its stadium and has won its last 27 games at home. The Argonauts, once the No. 1 team in the nation, are 44-8, setting a school record for wins in a season.
The Argonauts have a dangerous pitching staff, anchored by the arms of Jason Postill (11-1, 2.67), Daniel Vargas-Vila (12-1, 2.02) and Ben Hawkins (10-2, 2.80). The three have combined for 254 strikeouts with Postill coming through with 97.
Offensively, Greg Pron has been a beast at the plate. The Gulf South Conference Player of the Year is batting .445 with nine home runs. He has knocked in 60 runs.
• Southern Arkansas won the GSC championship and is making its fourth straight trip to the NCAA tournament. The Muleriders (36-14) have beenfueled by the big bats of Logan Williams and Brandon Choate. The two have hit 14 home runs apiece and are batting .363 and .319, respectively.
• North Alabama is playing in the regional for the first time since 1999. The Lions (35-12) were once a dominant team in the region, making 10 trips to the NCAA tournament from 1984-99.
• Harding is ranked 16th in the nation and has set a record for most wins in a season. The Bisons (41-12) are playing in their first NCAA tournament.
• Tampa (35-15) has won four of the last five regional tournaments and has a potent offense. The Spartans are hitting .341 as a team and average 7.9 runs per game.
• It has been 18 days since Stillman last played a baseball game. The Tigers (26-17) are in the NCAA tourney for the fourth time in school history but have never won in the postseason (0-6).
• Dean Green will lead Barry (35-15) into the regional tournament after earning Sunshine State Conference Player of the Year honors. Green, a transfer from Oklahoma State, is hitting .402 with 18 home runs and 71 RBIs.
• Nova Southeastern is making its first trip to the NCAA tournament. The Sharks (33-16) will play Barry and hold a 3-2 lead over the Bucs this season. Three of those games were decided by two runs or less.
The hottest team in the nation will be the top seed in the NCAA Division II Midwest Regional at Corn Crib Stadium in Normall, Ill. Grand Valley State, ranked No. 1 in the country and the owner of a 28-game win streak, is ready to take aim at a trip to the Division III Championship.
The Lakers are in the NCAA tournament for the 10th consecutive season and will begin their quest with a game against Wayne State (Mich.) in a rematch of the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference championship game. GVSU won the game 9-4, and as it stands now, it has the best winning percentage ever for a DII team (.943).
Cody Grice has been phenomenal. He is hitting .397 and has scored 53 runs. He has driven in 55 runs as well. Steve Anderson, who has crushed seven home runs, is batting .376 with 59 RBIs.
The Lakers have a team ERA of 2.49 and have recorded 306 strikeouts while walking only 118.
• Southern Indiana is aiming to defend its national championship. The Screaming Eagles (31-17) were the first Midwest team to win a national title since 1968 (Illinois State) and will count on Tyler Choate to keep the dream alive.
Choate is batting .348 with seven home runs and 49 RBIs. Brad Vance has been one of the team’s top hitters lately, hitting .370 in his last 17 games. Trevor Leach has been solid in postseason play, with a 4-0 record and 3.55 ERA while posting 17 strikeouts in two trips to the NCAA tournament.
• Missouri Tech is in the NCAA regional for the first time since 1972. The Miners (29-17) have set a school record for wins and had won 10 consecutive games before losing to Northern Kentucky in the Great Lakes Valley Conference tournament.
• Wayne State (Mich.) is the only other GLIAC team in the tournament. The Warriors (32-19) are paced by Michael Wiseman, a three-time All-GLIAC selection who is batting .370.
• Starting pitching has been huge for Northern Kentucky (34-19) as of late. Norse starters have gone the distance 10 times in the last 18 games and fashioned an 8-2 record during the stretch.
• Quincy (34-19) comes into the NCAA tourney as the GLVC champions for the first time since 2000 when its current head coach, Josh Rabe, was a player for the Hawks.
For the first time in school history, St. Cloud State is hosting the NCAA Central Regional tournament. The Huskies (42-9), have won their last four games and set a record for wins in a season, and will begin their quest for an NCAA Division II championship berth at Joe Faber Field.
Travis Cariveau has been pivotal to the success of the Huskies. He is batting .344 with 11 doubles and four home runs and has driven in 33 runs.
• Jordan Smith is hitting .389 and has belted seven home runs to go along with 56 RBIs while Scott Lieser has been key on the mound. He is 8-0 with a 3.20 ERA. He has 42 strikeouts and has issued just 10 walks.
• Mesa State should challenge for the regional crown as well. The Mavericks played in 2009 championships and enter the tournament with six consecutive wins. Mesa State (33-39) has been led by Greg Anderson, who is batting .420 with 12 doubles, six homers and 45 RBIs.
• Winona State is making back-to-back trips to the NCAA tournament for the first time in school history. The Warriors (35-16) have had 29 consecutive winning seasons.
• Minnesota State-Mankato is in the NCAA tournament for the 30th time and is the defending regional champion. Patrick Dockendorf (.372, 36 RBIs, 49 runs) has been one of the top hitters for the Maericks (39-10).
• Andrew Haake, an all-region selection, is batting .389 for Nebraska-Keaney. The standout for the Lopers (35-17) has belted 10 home runs and has been walked 39 times this season.
• This will be the first appearance in the NCAA tourney for Augustana (S.D.) (30-22). The Vikings are led by Nate Baumann at the plate. He is batting .390 and has hit doubles and 13 home runs.
Millersville is in the tournament for the first time since 2000 and is hosing the regional for the first time in school history at Clipper Magazine Stadium.
The Marauders (39-10) have the second most wins in school history and have been paced at the plate by Mike August (.398, 41 RBIs) and Zach Stone (.346, 41 RBIs).
Brooks Rothschild is 9-1 and has thrown five complete games. He has struck out 45.
• Concord has hit 31 triples, which leads the nation, and the total is 25 more than its opponent (Millersville) in the opening round of the regional. The Mountain Lions are 26-24 on the season.
• Mercyhurst is in the tournament for the eighth time and is riding a seven-game win streak. The Lakers (39-10) have been led at the plate by Shane Latshaw, who is batting .379 with 19 doubles and 30 RBIs.
• Seton Hill (33-13) did not win a game in its league tournament but is hoping Tom DeAngelis can revive its momentum. DeAngelis is hitting .388 and has tallied 46 RBIs en route to being named an all-region pick.
• East Stroudsburg has not been to a regional since 1985 and is seeking its first ever trip to the college world series. The Warriors (25-18) have one of the best pitchers in the nation in Jeremy Gigliotti, who has allowed only three earned runs in 60 innings pitched.
• Winston-Salem State, which revived baseball after a 37-year hiatus, is in the tournament after winning the CIAA championship. The Rams are 30-23 on the season.
Mount Olive will be the host of the regional tournament at Scarborough Field and will bring its nation’s best batting average into the tournament. The Trojans (41-7), ranked second in the country, are hitting .353 and have been led by Michael Knox, who is batting .363 with 22 home runs and 56 RBIs.
Carter Capps is 11-0 with a 1.72 ERA and has the Trojans poised to contend for their first national title since 2008.
• Francis Marion is 37-14 on the season and has been led on the hill by Don Sandifer. He is 10-3 with a 2.32 ERA. Sandifer has struck out 94 and has walked only 11 batters for the Patriots.
• Chris Dula has made a huge impact for Catawba despite being only a freshman. The rookie is batting .385 with 61 RBIs on the season for the Indians (40-13).
• Columbus State is making its 10th trip to the NCAA tournament and the Cougars (32-17) have been anchored by Ryan Lewis, who is hitting .358 with eight home runs and 37 RBIs.
• UNC-Pembroke takes a nine-game win streak into the regional. The Braves (42-10) are making their first trip to the tournament and are hitting .310 as a team.
• Wingate is the only unranked team in the regional field. The (34-20) are led by Dodson McPherson, who is hitting .410 and has crushed 17 home runs for the Bulldogs. McPherson has knocked in 77 runs as well.
South Central Regional
St. Mary’s (Texas) will host the regional at V.J. Keefe Field this week, and the Rattlers come into the tourney as one of the hottest teams in the nation. St. Mary’s (45-8) won the national title in 2001 and if it intends to win another, it will need closer Sammy Rivas to be at his best.
Rivas is 4-0 with 14 saves and has a 0.24 ERA. He has 39 strikeouts this season for the Rattlers, who have won their last 16 games.
• Central Missouri has won its last 15 games and is averaging 8.2 runs per game despite having 52 fewer extra-base hits than a season ago. The Mules (45-8) are coming off their 19th Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletic Association championship.
• Tarleton State is hitting .311 as a team and are in the regional for the first time since 1998. The Texans (35-13) have been led offensively by Travis Hayes, who is batting .403.
• Joe Vaskas has belted 14 home runs, leading an offense that has crushed 44 round-trippers this season. The Hornets (42-10) have racked up a total of 167 extra-base hits this season.
• Southeastern Oklahoma has been paced offensively by Justin Miller (.444, 11 home runs) and is batting .316 as a team. The Savage Storm enters the regional with a 34-17 record.
• Incarnate Word will count on Jorge Guarneros to help lead a Cinderella run through the regional. The Cardinals (35-16) are seeded sixth and Guarneros is 10-1 with a 2.76 ERA and 73 strikeouts.
UC San Diego is hosting the regional for the first time at Triton Ballpark and will be gunning for another trip to the college world series. The Tritons finished as the national runner-up a season ago.
UC San Diego (41-13) has hit at least one double in its last 16 games and Aaron Bauman has tallied 20 doubles on the season, one of seven players on the team with at least 10 two-baggers. Elias Tumas has been tough in a relief role, going 6-0 with seven saves.
• Cal Poly Pomona is making its first trip to the NCAA tourney since 1993. The Broncos (33-21) are led by Travis Taijeron, who is batting .380 with 17 doubles and 15 home runs. He has scored 57 runs.
• Western Oregon has won 21 of its last 23 games and the Wolves (37-13) come into the tourney hitting .295 as a team. Its pitching staff has racked up 315 strikeouts and has a team ERA of 2.74.
• Sonoma State didn’t win a game in the California Collegiate Athletic Association tournament but will look t bounce back in the regional. The Seawolves (33-19) are led by O’Koyea Dickson, who is hitting .335 with 10 home runs and 48 RBIs.