The 2022 DII baseball season is in the books, and we saw a little bit of history. North Greenville won its first DII baseball title, and in turn, ends the season atop the final Power 10 rankings of the season.
As I said entering the season, and throughout the Power 10 rankings, the Southeast Region is the most unheralded region in DII baseball. Or at least, it was. Now, with consecutive national champions rising from the Southeast, there is little question where the powerhouse of DII baseball resides.
TOURNEY RECAP: How North Greenville won the 2022 championship
Remember, these are my rankings and not a poll — there is no assembly of voters deciding which team ranks where. I try to combine the eye test (what you see in the standings and DII stats) with the metrics (what the selection committee sees) to come up with a unique ranking somewhere in between the NCBWA coaches poll and the regional rankings. Typically, the final eight teams in the tournament, whether it be basketball, football, softball or baseball, are not always a clear indicator as to the top teams in the country. However, the final eight this year were all considered for the final Power 10.
The final DII baseball Power 10 rankings of 2022
No. 1 North Greenville | Previous: 1
The Crusaders romped through the Cary field, not losing a single game en route to its national championship. In fact, it set a DII baseball championship finals record in an 18-3 victory over Angelo State, posting the most runs and highest run differential since the tourney moved to Cary in 2009. It was a complete team effort with explosive bats and outstanding pitching, but how about John Michael Faile? In his first action in a month, and coming off knee surgery no less, Faile put on a hitting clinic by racking up seven hits and five RBI in four games, including one of the most memorable home runs of the tournament.
No. 2 Point Loma | Previous: 4
What a disciplined and baseball-smart team head coach Justin James put together. The 51 wins were a 40-win improvement and the best in program history. The Sea Lions finished near the top of almost every pitching and fielding statistic. And the individual players just wowed you, whether it was Jack Malone’s incredible catches, Otto Kemp’s absurd 61-game on-base streak, or the two-way ability of Baxter Halligan.
No. 3 Rollins | Previous: NR
The Tars and Muleriders were neck-and-neck, but Rollins gets the slight edge for a couple of reasons. For one, they swept Tampa, a program that never fell below No. 3 all season, in the super regionals to get to Cary. Rollins then dominated Southern Arkansas and Point Loma, taking the Sea Lions to the limit before bowing out in the semifinals. Rollins reached the Power 10 earlier in the season and made it as far as they did on a veteran-laden pitching staff. This team was very good all year long.
No. 4 Southern Arkansas | Previous: 8
The Muleriders had an impressive run to Cary, needing to beat Henderson State in the GAC and then sweeping Augustana (SD) in the supers. They unfortunately had one of the toughest draws in Cary, going against two of the teams ranked ahead of them in the Power 10. That doesn’t diminish a single thing about this record-setting season, as Southern Arkansas captured its first Central Region title in program history.
No. 5 Angelo State | Previous: 3
There was never any question on how good this Rams team was. They entered the 2022 season in the top 5 of the Power 10 rankings and entered the finals equally as high. That’s because this lineup, one which hit .357 with a 1.002 OPS and 57 home runs, was one of the scariest in the land. The pitching caught fire in the LSC and regional tournaments, but didn’t have it in Cary, allowing 34 runs in three games. On the heels of back-to-back trips to Cary, you can be sure to see the Rams back in the hunt in 2023.
No. 6 Tampa | Previous: 3
The Spartans didn’t make it to Cary for a third year in a row, but you’re kidding yourself if they didn’t look like they would right up to the final pitch of the supers. Rollins came to play, but that doesn’t take away how strong Tampa was from opening day to June. This was one of the best pitching staffs in DII baseball and had some fine hitting, giving the Spartans plenty to build on for 2023. With head coach Joe Urso one of the best recruiters in the nation, Tampa will be back with a vengeance next spring.
No. 7 Columbus State | Previous: 7
As I said, the Southeast was the toughest region in DII baseball this year. The Cougars finished with 46 wins against the 13th-toughest schedule in DII. Along the way, they bumped defending champion Wingate from the tournament and took North Greenville the distance in the supers, with the first two ball games some of the best in supers play. Year in and year out, Columbus State has a target on its back, and now, as one of the best teams in the best region in the country, it will be even larger in the PBC come 2023.
No. 8 West Chester | Previous: NR
The Golden Rams were the only team to have a national championship under its belt this year in Cary… and they had two. The PSAC, as always, was very tough with Millersville, East Stroudsburg and Slippery Rock all dangerous teams, so for West Chester to escape that region alone speaks volumes. The Rams had the dubious honor of having to play North Greenville twice in Cary, but before exiting, picked up a pair of convincing wins in eliminating Southern New Hampshire and Angelo State.
No. 9 Southern New Hampshire | Previous: First five out
There are very few certainties in DII baseball, but the Penmen reaching Cary sure seems like one of them. The Penmen entered the season in the preseason Power 10 and never went away, hanging around at least the “first five out” from start to finish. While they didn’t last very long in Cary, there is no doubt that SNHU has solidified itself as one of the powerhouses in DII baseball. If you want to win the East, you have to go through the Penmen.
No. 10 Illinois Springfield | Previous: First five out
The Prairie Stars had a fun lineup to watch, one of the most fun in DII baseball. The reason they were ranked low for the bulk of the season was strength of schedule, but this was still a very good team that obviously handled its business in the program’s first trip to Cary. Before the Stars exited, Zion Pettigrew left his mark on Cary with his 28th home run of the season, putting the exclamation point on a fine year.
First five(ish) out (in alphabetical order)
- Augustana (SD)
- Azusa Pacific
- Central Missouri
- Colorado Mesa
2022 DII baseball honors
2022 Co-Players of the Year: Baxter Halligan, Point Loma and Haydn McGeary, Colorado Mesa
If there is an MVP award that truly measure the most valuable player, it’s far and away Halligan. He hit .344 with a 1.028 OPS with 25 extra base hits and 50 runs scored while leading the team in ERA (2.07) to go along with a 14-2 record, 1.00 WHIP and 120 strikeouts in 100 innings pitched. For McGeary, it’s yet another year of video game numbers, leading DII with a .481 average and 35 home runs and a 1.640 OPS.
2022 Co-Pitcher of the Year: Baxter Halligan, Point Loma and Jaylyn Whitehead, Rollins
The reasons for Halligan are above, but wanted to give a shoutout to Whitehead as well. He finished fifth in DII in ERA (1.81), third in WHIP (0.94), fifth in wins (11) and struck out 8.1 hitters per nine. He was a workhorse in the postseason as well and really was one of the better overall pitchers all season long.
2022 Freshmen of the Year: Jeremy Adorno, Southern Arkansas (pitcher) and Connor Evans, Chestnut Hill (position player)
The 5-foot-11 Adorno was a very large part of the Muleriders' success. He finished 15-0 with a 2.83 ERA and 1.06 WHIP while striking out well more than one per inning. Evans led all freshmen with a .440 batting average and struck out just 13 times in 150 at-bats while swiping 21 of his 25 attempted stolen bases.