As the winter sports walk off into the sunset, we finally turn our full attention to the spring. That means the return of the DII baseball Power 10 rankings highlight this week's DII Report. Before we jump into new rankings, make sure you take a peek at our final DII basketball rankings of the season.
DII college basketball: Final men's and women's rankings of 2021
Of course, we'll take our weekly look at some big numbers from the DII football field, as well as a peek at the DII women's lacrosse domination by the top 5 thus far in 2021. It's all right here in this week's DII Report.
DII baseball Power 10 rankings
Here we go. Our first time looking at the top 10 in DII baseball since the preseason. Surprisingly, while there has been some shuffling in actual ranking, there are many of the same faces now almost two months into the season. Or perhaps it's not all that surprising at all. The great players that got these teams into the preseason top 10 are still the great players now as they were then, right?
Remember, these are my rankings and mine alone. I try to use much of the same criteria as the selection committee in ranking my teams, but sometimes a red-hot team is simply a red-hot team. My rankings won't always look like others, but I'm okay with that. Baseball is a different sport: Wins and losses don't always determine how good a team really is.
Enough rambling. Let's get to it.
DII baseball Power 10 for the Week of April 4
(all games through Saturday, April 3)
1. Colorado Mesa | Previous: No. 1 — The Mavericks entered the season at No. 1 and stay there after an 18-2 start. The offense, as always, is clicking, averaging the most runs per game in DII. Matt Turner was surging and on a 12-game hitting streak before being shut down on March 22, but Haydn McGeary (.525 average, 1.617 OPS, nine home runs and 45 RBI) and Spencer Bramwell (.437 average, six home runs) are just fine. It's the pitching that makes them dangerous. Andrew Morris gets better every time out and freshman Kannon Handy is pitching to a 1.89 ERA with 32 strikeouts in 19 innings.
2. Angelo State | Previous: 2 — The Rams took opening weekend from Texas-Tyler and haven't lost a series yet in 2021. Power hitting and power pitching is the story with Angelo State. Josh Elvir is doing Player-of-the-Year things per usual, hitting .418 with five home runs and 19 RBIs. As expected, Trent Baker has been the Rams' ace (1.99 ERA, 0.93 WHIP, 48:6 K:BB ratioo in 40.2 innings), but Benjamin Elder has been strong as well, pitching to a 1.08 ERA and 1.05 WHIP.
3. Central Missouri | Previous: 3 — I had the Mules at No. 5 heading into the weekend but swept then-No. 10 Missouri Southern. Perhaps more impressively, the Mules scored 39 runs in a Saturday double header against a pitching staff that had a 3.95 ERA heading into the weekend. This team is pounding home runs and scoring in bunches. Last weekend, Erik Webb became the MIAA career home run king. On Saturday, the Mules slugged nine home runs in Game 1 of the slugfest double header — Dusty Stroup smashed three to lead the way — tying the MIAA single-game mark. Stroup followed that up with three more home runs in Game 2 for a six-home run day.
4. Tampa | Previous: 5 — The Spartans are 9-2 with big series wins over Florida Tech and then Nova Southeastern this past weekend. Tampa's bats are still getting warmed up, but New York Tech transfer EJ Cumbo is cooking, now on a nine-game hitting streak. On the bump, Eric Linder has been quite impressive, picking up two wins and one save so far this season for a Tampa staff that entered the weekend No. 2 in DII in ERA.
5. Lee | Previous: NR — I'm on the Flames train. Lee swept another series and have now won 13 in a row, sitting at 24-2 on the season. Let's talk about Logan Workman. The numbers are insane: 4-0, 0.72 ERA, 0.82 WHIP and 64 strikeouts in 37.2 innings. Pitching is definitely the Flames strength, which makes them dangerous and legit. Seth Konkel and Alex Harper-Cook have been very impressive as Workman's main wingmen in the rotation.
6. Mount Olive | Previous: 10 — The Trojans do have six losses, but the bulk came in an early March stretch. Mount Olive has since recovered and have won nine in a row. The Trojans also have an impressive series win over North Greenville which will play huge into the tournament picture at season's end. Hunter Stevens has been sharp as ever atop the rotation and Reed Parris make for a dangerous 1-2 punch. But how about freshman Vito Patierno? He's leading the team in hitting at .447 and OPS 1.212, with 14 extra base hits in 94 at bats.
7. Lindenwood | Previous: NR — The Lions were one of my sleepers in the preseason 25, and thus far have played very well. Yes, they are undefeated, sitting at 12-0, so the No. 7 ranking may seem like I am undervaluing them. The Lions three series wins have come against teams with a losing record, and I do consider strength of schedule here. Don't be mistaken. This team is very good, and ace Kyle Hentis is an MLB draft talent. In three starts, Hentis has a 2-0 record with a 0.90 ERA, 1.00 WHIP and a 20:4 K:BB ratio in 20 innings pitched.
8. North Greenville | Previous: 4 — The Crusaders are 21-6, and you could argue are not even playing up to their billing. But this team has some serious talent that can excel at the next level for me to rule them out of the top 10 just yet. Marek Chlup currently leads three Crusaders hitting over .400, while John Michael Faile is amid another MVP-caliber campaign, hitting .370 with a 1.169 OPS, 10 home runs and 42 RBI as one of the nation's premier catchers at any level.
9. Minnesota State | Previous: 9 — The Mavericks and Augustana (SD) are two very good teams in the NSIC. Minnesota State edges the Vikings out in our top 10 because of a pitching staff that finds itself atop DII in ERA. Jon Ludwig and Cam Klein will make every weekend miserable for opposing lineups, combining for a 2.76 ERA, a WHIP under 1.00 while striking out 83 and walking just six. Joey Werner is off to a hot start leading the lineup, hitting .419 with six home runs.
10. Catawba | Previous: No. 8 — This was splitting hairs, but the Indians edge out the rest of the first five out based on playing the toughest schedule of the six thus far. Catawba is 19-6 against a schedule with a combined 55.8 winning percentage. The Indians also have signature wins against UNC Pembroke and North Georgia. Hunter Shepherd has gotten off to a slow start on the mound, but has been hot in the lineup, hitting .418 with seven home runs and 36 RBIs.
First five out (in alphabetical order)
- Augustana (SD) — The Vikings have also played a tough schedule, and pitcher Tanner Brown is on fire with a perfect game under his belt.
- Azusa Pacific — Though the Cougars dropped one Saturday, they won the series against a good Point Loma team. A.J. Woodall, Nick Estrella and Cory Dawson are a rotation to keep eyes on.
- Seton Hill — The Griffins are back in the conversation, off to a 12-0 start behind one of DII's best pitching staffs. They also have a series win against Ashland and a signature PSAC win against Millersville.
- UNC Pembroke — Bucky Bonynge leads an intriguing staff, one that swept Georgia College out of the rankings. The Braves are 22-5 and winners of 14 in a row.
- West Texas A&M — Keone Givens is one of the most fun players to watch in DII. He's hitting .378 with nine doubles, four triples, four home runs and 16 stolen bases.
In the conversation (also alphabetical): Illinois Springfield, Missouri Southern, Southern New Hampshire, St. Thomas Aquinas, West Florida
DII football by the numbers
We love stats. Here's a quick look around the gridiron at some of the best of the week.
43 — Total yards rushing Lenoir-Rhyne held Wingate to in their 44-21 victory. The Bulldogs averaged -1.8 yards per carry on the day. Bears' freshman running back Dwayne McGee had another impressive day, rushing for 94 yards and a touchdown.
4 — Touchdowns thrown by Wheeling's Jalen Lea. While also throwing for 216 yards, Lea led the team with 80 yards rushing.
11 — Receptions Tiffin receiver Anthony Lowe reeled in during the Dragons 28-7 victory over Hillsdale. He totaled 170 of quarterback Nick Watson's 371 yards passing.
21-14 — Final score that East Central defeated FCS foe Tarleton State this week. Running back Ontario Douglas led the way with 105 yards rushing and two touchdowns.
35 — Unanswered second-half points by Missouri S&T to defeat William Jewell 49-28. Aaron Moya and Payton McAlister combined for 274 yards rushing and three touchdowns in the win.
53 — Points scored by Newberry, the most the Wolves have put up in four years. Dre Harris tossed three touchdowns in the win.
56 — Total yards Indianapolis allowed in its 38-0 victory on Saturday. Quarterback Bryce Stancombe was impressive throwing for 275 yards and three touchdowns.
104 — Total points Findlay has now defeated its opponents by after improving to 3-0 on Saturday. The Oilers won 54-6 and are averaging 44.6 points per game.
175 — Yards that Tabyus Taylor rushed for in Notre Dame (OH)'s victory on Saturday. He's now rushed for 177, 151 and 175 yards in his three games this season.
519 — Yards thrown by Tusculum's Rogan Wells. Wells, who threw for 417 yards last week, tossed five scores. TJ Jones (151 yards, two touchdowns) and Tory Ponder (14 yards, one touchdown) made the most out of Wells' big day.
Top 5 in DII women's lacrosse stay perfect
The top five teams in DII women's lacrosse continue an undefeated run in 2021. No. 1 Lindenwood was off this week, so remain 5-0 on the season. No. 2 UIndy improved to 7-0 with a 25-1 thumping of Lewis. The Greyhounds have defeated four nationally ranked teams thus far in 2021. No. 3 Le Moyne tallied a pair of wins to improve to 5-0. The Dolphins Paige Crandall leads all DII keepers with a 4.29 goals against average. No. 4 West Chester put up 21 goals not once, but twice this past week to improve to 6-0. And last, but not least, No. 5 Florida Southern took down No. 8 Tampa on Wednesday for its third-straight win over a nationally ranked team. The Mocs improved to 4-0 with a 20-goal outburst on Saturday.
Outside the top-5 Belmont Abbey continues to be a menace to opposing goalkeepers. The Crusaders posted a 26-0 shutout on Monday for their fifth-straight game scoring 21 or more goals. They lead DII with a 20.50 goals per game average. It's a balanced attacke for Belmont Abbey as seven players have scored at least 10 goals this season.