Spring has sprung and that means we are a little more than a month away from the 2022 DII baseball conference championships. As things heat up, so are some of the best teams in the nation. Let’s take a look at the best teams in the land.
LOOK BACK: The preseason Power 10 rankings
This is the first Power 10 since the preseason rankings. Due to DII baseball’s unique staggered start, it’s best to wait until April when every team has played a significant number of games to really rank each one.
Wingate, Tampa and Colorado Mesa were the top three teams back in January’s preseason rankings, and all three are still in the DII baseball Power 10 rankings, albeit each one in a different spot. Naturally, there will be a lot of shifting two months into the season, so this is a very much new-look Power 10.
Remember, these are my rankings and not a poll—there is no assembly of voters deciding which team ranks where. So, I look at overall record, but my spreadsheet is full of many of the same metrics the selection committee uses come tournament time: strength of schedule, record against ranked opponents, and in-region wins to name just a few. So, enjoy these first rankings of the regular season and prepare to disagree.
DII baseball Power 10 rankings (all games through Wednesday, March 30)
No. 1 Tampa | Preseason: No. 2
Defending champion Wingate is still very deserving but what Tampa is doing is remarkable… as usual. Not only are the Spartans 26-3, they have put up that record against the 24th-toughest schedule in DII baseball, playing teams with a combined .593 winning percentage. That includes wins against Seton Hill, Northwood and a sweep of Nova Southeastern. Offensively, this team has been impressive with a .317 combined batting average and .878 team OPS. Haden Erbe, Michael Paul and Nick Long makeup arguably DII’s best weekend rotation and will be so tough in a playoff format.
No. 2 Wingate | Preseason: No. 1
The Bulldogs are more of a 1B than true No. 2, basically separated from Tampa by strength of schedule. The reigning champs are 28-3 and have signature wins over Mount Olive, UNC Pembroke, Catawba and Charleston (WV). Michael Dansky opened the season on a tear and has continued to be one of the leaders in a deep lineup, hitting .341 with 12 doubles and five home runs. Brody McCullough was expected to be the ace and hasn’t disappointed, pitching to a 0.95 ERA and 1.03 WHIP so far.
No. 3 Point Loma | Preseason: NR
I took some heat in my DII Report Fall Reports when I called the Sea Lions a contender, and deservedly so: This team was 11-21 last year. But that was last year. Now Point Loma is 23-3 and has done it against the 15th-strongest schedule in all DII. It swept Northwest Nazarene—last year’s West representative in Cary, NC—and took a big series against Azusa Pacific, another long-time West heavyweight. Head coach Justin James said in the preseason his team would be strong defensively to give them a chance every night and he was right, as the Sea Lions are fifth in DII in fielding percentage. What was pleasantly unexpected was the best pitching staff in DII baseball: The Sea Lions have a combined 2.12 ERA, tops in the division.
No. 4 Central Missouri | Preseason: Also considered
The Mules lost a lot of the key pieces that led to consecutive deep runs in Cary this offseason. Shame on me for underestimating head coach Kyle Crookes, who is cemented in the elite of DII baseball head coaches at this point. The Mules are 23-3 and winners of 18 in a row, including a perfect start in the MIAA. Despite losing one of the best offensive players in recent DII history (Erik Webb), the Mules are hitting .332 with a combined .928 OPS. And despite losing Mason Green on the bump (who NEVER lost a game in his Mules’ career), this pitching staff has a very good 3.51 ERA and seems to be getting stronger.
RECAP: How Wingate won the 2021 DII baseball championship
No. 5 Columbus State | Preseason: Also considered
It’s the little things that get me excited and finding out Robert Brooks decided to come back made the Cougars an immediate contender in one of the toughest regions of DII baseball. Not only is Brooks one of the top sluggers in DII (already with 11 home runs), but his role behind the plate with the pitching staff is pivotal. The Cougars are out to a 26-5 start with a comfortable cushion in the Peach Belt Conference. Columbus State has played a tough schedule too—it has no choice playing in the Southeast Region.
No. 6 Rollins | Preseason: NR
The Tars have been impressive since opening day, sweeping an early three-game series against nationally-ranked and perennial Gulf South threat, West Florida. They have gone 22-7 since, in arguably the toughest region in DII baseball against the 57th-toughest schedule in the division, playing a schedule with a combined .569 winning percentage. The team is strong on the mound, with starters Jaylyn Whitehead and Justin Alintoff leading the way. The heart of the Sunshine State Conference schedule remains, so we shall see how real Rollins is in April.
No. 7 Southern Arkansas | Preseason: First five out
Sitting at 23-5, the Muleriders roll into the Power 10 with a recent sweep of Southeastern Oklahoma State and face off against Henderson State this weekend. That’s a tough swing, but the first sweep sure set the tone. There’s no rest for opposing pitchers in this lineup, as they are one of the top home-run hitting lineups in the division. Tucker Burton and freshman Brandon Nicholl lead the way with 10 and nine respectively, but there is pop aplenty.
No. 8 West Texas A&M | Previous: Also considered
The Buffs are 25-5 and if it weren’t for their low strength of schedule, they would likely be higher on this list. The offense is a tough out, with Adam Becker leading the way. He’s hitting .437 with a 1.264 OPS and a team-high nine home runs and 55 RBI. On the bump, the Buffs have lost so much over the years, including some of the best flamethrowers in the division, but have held up well thus far. Nick Marshall has done well leading the rotation. A big series against nationally-ranked Lubbock Christian this weekend will let us know more about the Buffs.
No. 9 Colorado Mesa | Preseason: No. 3
The Mavs' record isn’t as sparkling as it normally is, but this team is still cooking. They have played a very tough schedule and have a series win against Northwest Nazarene and have split against Azusa Pacific and Colorado School of Mines. Haydn McGeary is putting up video-game numbers once again (.494, 9 doubles, 11 home runs) but this lineup is loaded with the likes of Caleb Farmer, Harrison Rodgers and Chase Hamilton hitting most of what comes their way. We knew with the losses on the mound there would be a learning curve for the pitchers, but the bullpen has kept the Mavs' hopes in the South Central alive thus far.
No. 10 (tie) Augustana (SD) and North Greenville | Preseason: No. 9 and also considered
These two tie and make the cut due to the schedules they have played. Augustana is 19-4-1 against a schedule with an overall .571 winning percentage, including wins against Arkansas Tech and Central Missouri and a big series win over NSIC rival St. Cloud State. North Greenville—powered by one of the best hitters in DII baseball in John Michael Faile—is clicking, sitting at 27-5 and winners of nine in a row. When it comes to signature wins, the Crusaders have checked the boxes, defeating Lenoir-Rhyne, Catawba, Newberry, North Georgia and sweeping Mount Olive, all of which are Southeast Region heavyweights.
First five out (in alphabetical order)
- Angelo State: The Rams are 23-7 and have played a top-100 schedule, so it hasn’t been easy. The pitching staff got off to an uncharacteristic slow start, but per usual, the lineup is potent with six every-day starters hitting over .300.
- Seton Hill: The Griffins had a tough three-day swing earlier in March, losing to Tampa, Florida Southern and Minnesota State in a row, but have since righted the ship. This is looking a lot like the team that went to Cary last year.
- Southern New Hampshire: Speaking of teams that made it to Cary, the Penmen are 15-4, and outside of a series loss to a good Adelphi team, they are rolling. The team is balanced, hitting .317 with a 3.86 ERA.
- Trevecca Nazarene: It’s hard not to love the Trojans’ story, making program history in a historic trip to Cary last year and opening up with a 23-5 start in 2022. This was likely the first team out of the Power 10. Roland Ryan has been fun to watch in this lineup, hitting .385 with 12 home runs.
- West Chester: It’s been a while (two years is a long while for this program) since the Golden Rams have been in the upper echelon, but they have played one of the tougher schedules in the Atlantic Region and are 5-1 in-region. Another balanced team, West Chester is hitting .317 with a 3.52 ERA.
Just missed: Chico State. , Illinois Springfield, Lubbock Christian, Minnesota State