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Wayne Cavadi | NCAA.com | April 15, 2022

Tampa, Central Missouri and North Greenville lead this week's DII college baseball rankings

DII baseball preview: The top teams and players to look out for in Cary this June

We are just two weeks away from the first regional rankings of the 2022 DII baseball season. That will shed some light on what the tournament bracket will look like on the road to Cary, NC. You can be sure the following teams will all be in the mix.

The top five teams are incredibly tight, and any could be the top team in the DII baseball Power 10 rankings. That’s what gives Tampa the edge to remain locked in at No. 1, but should they slip against Barry this weekend, we’ll have a new No. 1.

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, April 13)

No. 1 Tampa | Previous: No. 1

The Spartans are 30-5 heading into the series with Barry, but two of those losses came against Lee this past weekend. That said, Tampa has reeled off those 30 wins against a schedule with a combined .552 winning percentage. The Spartans have four hitters doing serious work: Drew Ehrhard, E.J. Cumbo, Dan Sullivan and Jordan Lala are all hitting north of .350, while J.D. Urso was leading the team with a .412 average until missing some time recently. Tampa’s real advantage is having three true starters in the weekend rotation. Many teams have been forced to go to a Tampa Bay Rays style of baseball, but Michael Paul, Haden Erbe and Nick Long are 20-3 with a combined 2.57 ERA.

No. 2 Central Missouri | Previous: No. 4

The Mules don’t have many wins against top-25 teams, but their overall schedule has been really tough. It’s the 42nd-toughest in DII baseball to be accurate. That’s what makes it impressive that Central Missouri has just one loss since Feb. 13. That included a perfect March and 7-1 April so far. This team had a lot of turnover in the offseason, but head coach Kyle Crookes knew the pieces were in place. While many of us on the outside expected them to be at least a top-25 team, Crookes and his coaching staff knew they had another Central Region power on their hands and look like a contender for their fourth trip to Cary in the past five seasons.

Crookes and veteran shortstop Harrison Schnurbusch were guests on the DII National podcast, where they were asked to name their favorite teams to root for and their favorite baseball movie:

No. 3 North Greenville | Previous: 10 (tied)

The Crusaders are the biggest climbers this week, and I would be lying if I said there wasn’t consideration for the top spot. It isn’t simply that this team has a 34-6 record against one of the toughest schedules in DII baseball—it’s the signature wins they have against the Southeast Region. North Greenville just beat Newberry for the second time and also have wins against North Georgia, Catawba, Lenoir-Rhyne, Mount Olive and UNC Pembroke—all teams vying for a spot in the tournament. Some will disagree, but this is the top team in an absolutely loaded Southeast.

LOOK BACK: Tampa topped the last DII baseball Power 10 rankings

No. 4 Wingate | Previous: 2

See how tough the Southeast Region is? Right behind North Greenville is the defending national champion Bulldogs, also hailing from that region. Wingate is coming off a huge series win against Newberry and is now 35-5. It’s hard to imagine this team is better than last year’s title winners, especially after losing its top hitter AND ace, but there is no doubt they are. The only reason they trail North Greenville right now is strength of schedule and all those signature wins against regional opponents. This team is very good and is a serious threat to repeat.

No. 5 Point Loma | Previous: 4

The Sea Lions remain one of the best stories in DII baseball this season, now 29-5 after last year’s 11-win season. Two of those losses came this past weekend, so it really speaks to how well the Sea Lions were dominating the West. If you are a believer that defense wins championships, then you are a fan of this Point Loma squad. It leads DII baseball in ERA and fielding percentage, making it very hard to outscore the Sea Lions.

No. 6 Columbus State | Previous: 5

It’s not fair that the Cougars, like the Sea Lions, drop a spot after getting to 31-6 with a series win over North Georgia, but that’s just how tight this top 10 is. Columbus State is once again looking like a tournament contender. Robert Brooks continues to pace the offense, now with 13 home runs, but this lineup has six everyday players hitting .320 or better. The starting pitching has been good, but the bullpen has been impressive as coach Greg Appleton has a bevy of workhorses to turn to in the later innings.

No. 7 Southern Arkansas | Previous: 7

You’ll notice most of the teams that are in the top 10 have racked up many wins against some of the toughest schedules in DII baseball. The Muleriders are no different, now 29-8 with a recent series split against a very good — and quite possibly tournament-bound — Henderson State team. Brandon Nicoll leads a loaded lineup and is one of the more well-rounded hitters in the GAC: He’s hitting .337 with 18 doubles, nine home runs and leads the team in both runs scored and RBIs.

No. 8 West Texas A&M | Previous: 8

The Buffs are coming off a tremendous series win over Angelo State, taking down the Rams 3-1. That improves West Texas A&M to 30-8 and now in the driver’s seat in the Lone Star Conference. Ryan Johnson (hitting .423) and Adam Becker (a team-high 10 home runs and 60 RBI) power the offense, but there are five Buffs hitting .362 or better. This team is going to score runs and will be a very tough out in May.

No. 9 Colorado Mesa | Previous: No. 9

As always, head coach Chris Hanks has an explosive lineup. Haydn McGeary is putting up numbers that could see him repeat as national player of the year (.473, 1.592 OPS, 10 doubles, 16 home runs) but Caleb Farmer has been equally sensational (.430, 1.463 OPS, 18 home runs). Every player in the everyday lineup is hitting at least .326 and the team is hitting .355 with a 1.062 OPS overall. That has afforded this inexperienced pitching staff time to acclimate as they will need to be stronger once playoff baseball begins.

No. 10 Rollins | Previous: 6

Rollins is checking off the boxes in 2022, heading into the weekend already 17 wins ahead of last year’s nine-win season. The Tars have played opponents with a combined .537 winning percentage, and just battled a tough Florida Southern team, dropping a pair of 2-1 ball games in a row. Jaylyn Whitehead continues to impress on the mound, leading one of the best pitching staffs in DII baseball. Whitehead is now 7-1 with a 1.11 ERA, 0.80 WHIP and 60 strikeouts through 65 innings.

SURPRISE, SURPRISE: 5 DII baseball teams that have pleasantly surprised, so far

First five out (in alphabetical order)

  • Angelo State: The Rams were rolling into the Power 10 before dropping three of four to the Buffs. This team is still very good and has played the 24th-toughest schedule in DII baseball.
  • Augustana (SD): The Vikings slip out of the Power 10 this week but are arguably the first team out. Tanner Brown and Caleb Saari have been stellar on the mound and the lineup has hitters from the top to bottom. A win over Central Missouri earlier in the season is huge.
  • Nova Southeastern: The Sharks are 26-10 and have gotten that record against the toughest schedule of any Power 10 team (17th overall). They have some serious hitters in Daniel Irisarri, Adam Frank, Duncan Pastore and Adan Fernandez.
  • Seton Hill: The Griffins have a big series against Slippery Rock this weekend that will have Atlantic Region implications. This team is incredibly balanced with good hitters in the lineup and solid pitchers on the bump, especially in the bullpen.
  • Trevecca Nazarene: The Trojans are once again rolling, winners of six in a row. Four of those wins have seen this lineup pile up double-digit runs. The only thing keeping them out of the top 10 is strength of schedule because, like the team that reached Cary last year, this rendition is very good.

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