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Wayne Cavadi | NCAA.com | March 3, 2020

White-hot Catawba climbs in the DII baseball Power 10 rankings

Tampa wins the 2019 DII Baseball National Championship

The DII college baseball season is really starting to shape up as we're seeing some of the great teams separate themselves from the good ones. Angelo State improved to 17-1 with a thrilling series win over No. 14 West Texas A&M and teams such as Georgia College continue to knock off ranked foe after ranked foe. 

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Before we get into the latest DII baseball Power 10, here's a quick refresher if you're new to the rankings. These are my rankings. I use much of the criteria the DII baseball selection committee will use come tournament time, including — but not limited to — strength of schedule, head-to-head matchups, and record against DII opponents. We finally have every team playing baseball, so the top 10 can start to take its actual shape after weeks of waiting.

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Here's a look at the fifth Power 10 of the 2020 DII baseball season. 

DII baseball Power 10 rankings: Week 5 (all games through Sunday, March 1)

No. 1 Angelo State | 17-1 | Previous: 1
What a weekend for the Rams. They welcomed nationally-ranked West Texas A&M — who just came off a sweep of nationally-ranked Texas A&M-Kingsville — to San Angelo, Texas and took the series 3-1. Each win came in thrilling walk-off fashion. Though Josh Elvir didn't go yard, he did add three more doubles and six more runs to his stat line, his OPS now 1.771. This offense is just incredible, hitting .371 with 27 home runs and 204 runs scored five weeks into the season. 

No. 2 Central Missouri | 14-3 | Previous: 4
The Mules jumped another two spots after back-to-back perfect weekends. This is a special team and look poised for a return trip to Cary, North Carolina, if everyone stays healthy. Mason Green (1.52 ERA, 1.08 WHIP) and Jordan Fowler (1.69 ERA, 0.84 WHIP) are as potent a 1-2 punch atop the rotation as any in DII baseball, while the offense isn't even at its peak yet. Erik Webb looks like he's heating up after a 4-for-10 weekend with two doubles and a home run. 

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No. 3 North Greenville |16-3--1 | Previous: 3
I'll admit, I didn't like the midweek loss to Catawba, but the Indians are red-hot and it's not like the Crusaders rolled over in that one launching five home runs in the loss. Brady West had two in that game and is on fire right now hitting .446 — one of five Crusaders hitting over .370 — with six doubles and five home runs. Logan Chapman — who I think is the X-factor in the rotation — bounced back from his first poor performance of the season hurling five innings of shutout ball, striking out six and walking one. This team is deep everywhere on the field. 

No. 4 Tampa | 11-5 | Previous: 7
I thought that come March, we'd be looking at the Spartans in one of two ways: around .500 as the find their footing with several new faces or looking like the team to beat in the Sunshine State Conference once again. Right now it looks like the latter with another weekend series win, this week over Florida Tech. Drew Erhard and Nick Derr, two of the remaining Spartans with national championship experience, are both hitting over .300 while transfer Jose Cadenas provides the pop with 12 extra base hits already on the season. Brandon Knarr has been impressive in the rotation, allowing just three earned runs and striking out 47 over his last four starts. 

No. 5 Mount Olive | 15-2 | Previous: 6
The Trojans keep climbing after posting another perfect weekend, handing Chowan a 31-5 three-game sweep. The big hitters — Joe Mason and JT Stone in particular — are hitting and the starting rotation is dealing. Now, I would like to see some more quality wins against ranked opponents, but there is little reason to move Mount Olive from the top 10 right now. The Trojans get their chance this week with matchups against Newberry and Catawba before a weekend series with Barton.

No. 6 UC San Diego | 13-4 | Previous: 5
Nothing fancy, nothing different, just another 3-1 weekend from the Tritons. Luke Mattson and Michael Mitchell continue to dominate out of the pen giving confidence to the starters and hitters that any sort of lead is a safe one if they can get to the seventh or eighth inning ahead. Brandon Weed and Cameron Leonard continue to anchor the rotation, Weed now not allowing a run in three of his four starts this season. The offense isn't knocking your socks off right now, but they don't have to. As long as the pitching keeps them in ball games the offense will find time to heat up. 

No. 7 Catawba | 15-2 | Previous: 10
Red-hot. Remember when the Indians were 0-2 to start the season? No one else does either as Catawba has won 15 in a row and are reminding us how they made the run to Cary last year. They won that midweek slugfest with North Greenville for their second straight midweek win against a nationally ranked opponent. Hunter Shepherd continues to awe, hitting .448 with a 1.322 OPS in 62 at-bats while going 3-0 with a 1.45 ERA in four starts on the bump. 

No. 8 Colorado Mesa | 10-4 | Previous: 2
I'm may be too high on the Mavericks after a two-loss weekend, but they still scored 10 runs in each of those two losses. The pitching has been somewhat disappointing, but this offense is cooking, hitting .359 with 29 home runs and 183 runs scored so far. Haydn McGeary is now over .500 with 10 doubles and eight home runs in this exciting lineup. We knew there would be an adjustment period for this pitching staff, if the bats can keep splitting series, the Mavericks will be just fine come May. 

No. 9 Georgia College | 11-1 | Previous: NR
Yes indeed, I continue to be very high on these Bobcats, but I have very good reason to be. Georgia College has played five teams in the top 25 — including two right here in the Power 10 — and are a perfect 5-0 against them. Most recently, Georgia College swept No. 20 North Georgia on the road winning the first two games in tightly-contest battles before exploding for a 13-1 win on Sunday. It's tough to find the Bobcats best bat right now as the team is hitting .353 with a .951 OPS.

No. 10 Ashland Eagles | 5-1 | Previous: 9
The Eagles now have two weeks under their belt and two series wins to go with it. I liked both teams they faced heading into the season, and the fact that they've come out ahead with not much trouble is a good sign of things to come. The hitting has to start going, but teams up north tend to struggle with the bats in the colder part of the season, so it's on Chance Hitchcock to continue setting the tone on Fridays for the Eagles to maintain success.

Also considered (in alphabetical order):

  • Augustana (SD): Jordan Barth is hitting and the Vikings got their first sweep of the season. The starting pitching has been up and down, but like we said with Ashland, I expect that this time of year.
  • Barry: The Bucs followed up losing a series to Nova Southeastern — in two one-run ballgames mind you — by taking a series from top 20 Florida Southern, both wins coming in pretty dominant fashion. How far Barry can go in the SSC is to be determined, but this is a good start. 
  • East Stroudsburg: I don't think the Warriors are top-10 worthy just yet, but this is a good team. They were washed out this weekend, but took a Monday double-header by a combined score of 26-1 to improve to 11-1 in 2020.
  • Millersville: The Marauders are off to a 10-3 start and the pitching looks pretty solid. If senior Drew Miller can find his footing, this starting rotation will be tough to beat.
  • Minnesota State: I think this team has top-10 talent, but after only playing four games through five weeks, I need a larger sample size to get the Mavericks in the Power 10. The Spring Games will be a good measuring stick starting Thursday.
  • Southern New Hampshire: This team quickly put the opening weekend sweep to Colorado Mesa behind them, including a big sweep of East Region champs New York Tech this past weekend. 

Still on the radar: Delta State, Mercyhurst, Newberry and New York Tech all fell out of the rankings for now, but I expect all four of these teams to be back in the hunt with a few more weekends of wins. 

OK, you've caught my eye

  • Biola: I need to see more against ranked teams and for this offense to start hitting and not just slugging, but at 11-1 you have my attention.
  • Davenport: The Panthers are off to a 10-2 start and are hitting .371 as a team. Jacob Buchberger is a big reason why, hitting .510 with five home runs and 29 RBI already on the season.
  • Emporia State: Yes, the Hornets are 11-6, but they have also won five in a row... all five of those wins coming against top 25 teams. They were able to rack up 34 runs against Missouri Southern's pitching staff, which was pretty solid thus far.
  • Lindenwood: Starting off 12-1 is going to catch a lot of people's attention. The Lions haven't played any ranked teams, but a few that are always competitive and the pitching has shown well so far. 
  • Missouri Southern: I left the Lions out of my rankings last week, and after getting swept Emporia State, it's hard to put them in there this week. But this was a solid 13-1 team a week ago and we'll get to see how they rebound after adversity against Washburn this weekend.
  • Texas-Tyler: Welcome to DII baseball. The 2018 DIII baseball national champs are now 16-2 on the season. The Patriots have yet to face some of the stiffest competition in a loaded South Central region, but I am intrigued.

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