North Greenville is rolling. Tampa is on fire and Angelo State is hitting, well, just about everything. While it may seem like everything is the same, we've had some changes in the new DII baseball Power 10 rankings.
Making their 2023 Power 10 debut are Quincy, Lenoir-Rhyne and Rollins. None are tremendous surprises, as each were just outside the rankings looking in to start the season. Now, with some hot play and signature wins, they have joined the Power 10 party.
Remember, these are my rankings. Unlike a coaches poll or the regional rankings, I try to blend a little of each to give you a snapshot of the moment. That means I use the good ol' eye test but do consider metrics the selection committee uses come May (things like strength of schedule, in-region records, and record against ranked opponents to name a few). This also helps in making my weekly "Field of 56" projections for the DII baseball championship bracket.
The second DII baseball Power 10 rankings of 2023 season
(All games through March 12)
No. 1 North Greenville | Previous: 1: The Crusaders are now 20-2 and have seen their strength of schedule rise the past few weeks. They have several signature single-game wins over projected regionally ranked teams; however, they still haven't played that one defining series. That will change in a couple of weeks with UNC Pembroke on the schedule. Until then, you can expect the Crusaders to keep hitting (currently hitting .342 with 34 home runs as a team) and for the bullpen to be absolutely ridiculous to close out games. Not to sound like a broken record, but Mike Rodriguez, Nate Roof, and Dawson Taylor are the kind of three-headed monster that makes a winning a short tournament a lot easier.
No. 2 Tampa | Previous: 2: The Spartans are now 17-3 and have a huge week with both Valdosta State and Florida Southern on the slate. That will only make their .564 SOS that much better. Once again, Tampa's pitching staff is one of the best in DII and Eli Thurmond, Michael Paul, and Skyler Gonzalez have been great as regulars in the rotation leading the Spartans to a top-10 ERA and WHIP in the division. While the hitting is explosive, this team executes in every phase of the game, with a top-20 fielding percentage on defense as well.
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No. 3 Angelo State | Previous: 3: At 21-3, the Rams are cruising, having won eight in a row since its series split with a very good UT Tyler team. This team is just in a zone at the plate, with four hitters hitting .400 or better. If they aren't beating you with the boom sticks, they are running amok on the base paths (their 64 stolen bases are sixth in DII) and creating runs. Kade Bragg, a transfer lefty from Weatherford JC, has been lights out. He has two really good pitches (his fastball was low 90s in the fall, and his slider is a weapon), and he is 6-0 with 49 strikeouts in 34.2 innings and a microscopic 0.52 ERA. Coach Kevin Brooks wanted to improve the pitching this offseason... I'd say he did.
No. 4 Columbus State | Previous: 4: We know Columbus State can hit; they have always been able to hit. That hasn't changed with Derek Wylie leading an offense that is hitting the ball and scoring tons of runs. Where the Cougars are vastly improved is on the bump, where they have been middle of the PBC pack since Kolton Ingram left town a few years back. I was on hand this past Saturday and watched Noah Windhorst complete a no-hitter followed by Colton Joyner striking out 11 and walking one. Neither are very hard throwers, but they are extremely efficient and attack the hitters with their entire arsenal anywhere in the count. Throw in the veteran Peyton Burton and that's a dangerous trio.
It took two days, but Noah Windhorst completes a no-hitter for the @CSUCougarsBSB Cougs win 10-0 in 7 innings!#d2baseball @divIIbaseball @NCAADII pic.twitter.com/rM6hAL9fYX— Wayne Cavadi (@WayneCavadi_D2) March 11, 2023
No. 5 Cal State San Bernardino | Previous: 8: Well, last week I said I am always hesitant on putting a surprising hot team in the Power 10 this early, and I am certainly typically reluctant to do so in the top 5. But the Coyotes are checking too many boxes to continue to ignore them. Yes, they haven't played the toughest schedule, but it is by no means soft. Plus, they have a series win against Point Loma and most recently a very tricky Stanislaus State team. Dylan O'Connor and Luke Hempel can strike people out, if they can find some consistency on the mound, this team becomes a West Region threat.
No. 6 Quincy | Previous: "The next 16": The Hawks have been on the outside looking in for sometime but they are now in the top 10. The metrics speak for themselves: The Hawks have played the second-toughest schedule in DII baseball and are 11-3 to show for it. They have a series win against Tampa (no one else does) and most recently swept Northwood and Augustana (SD), two very good (likely tournament) teams. This team can sure hit, and Luke Napleton may be the hottest with five home runs in his last three games.
No. 7 Montevallo | Previous: 6: The Falcons are 17-4 and have done it against a .511 SOS in one of the toughest regions of DII baseball, so there is no denying this start is for real. They did suffer that midweek loss to Columbus State, but midweek games are not always the best games to judge a team. This lineup has a dangerous blend of hitting (two batters hitting plus .400) and power (four hitters with five or more home runs) and has been getting it done on the mound. JJ Pease and Logan Samuels are a combined 6-0 with a 2.24 ERA and 11.7 strikeouts per nine in the starting rotation.
No. 8 Illinois Springfield | Previous: 9: The Prairie Stars picked up a big series win against GLVC foe Drury this past weekend and have a tough road ahead the next few weeks with Lewis, undefeated UIndy, and Quincy as their next three series. While they have gotten to 13-5 playing a schedule with a winning record, we shall really see if they are contenders to repeat in the Midwest by the end of March. Right now, the starting pitching needs to be commended, pitching to a team ERA of 3.40 and 1.28, both of which are much improved from last year. Asher Bradd is hitting .473 after 18 games and that seems quite good.
No. 9 Southern Arkansas | Previous: 5: The Muleriders dropped a tough series to a Henderson State team that should contend for the GAC title, which is what sees them fall a bit. That said, there is too much talent for this team to completely fall out of the top 10, for now. Jeremy Adorno actually lost a baseball game but is still one of the nastiest pitchers in the division, and the lineup has plenty of pop and experience which should come into play as the season moves on. Let's see how they rebound in a very winnable series against Southern Nazarene this weekend.
No. 10 (tie) Lenoir-Rhyne, Rollins | Previous: "The next 16": Both the Bears and Tars debut at the 10-spot for similar reasons. The Bears have played a tough schedule and since their opening day loss to Belmont Abbey, they have been on a tear, sitting at 20-5. Blake Bean is on a heater, homering in all three games this past weekend and then two more in a row to start this week. Rollins began the season with many unanswered questions due to roster turnover, but have answered them well, now 15-5. That includes a series win against Quincy. The pitching isn't as dominant as last year (yet), but Nick Berger (0.82 ERA) and Edward Berry (2.97 ERA, 0.89 WHIP) look good so far.
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First five out:
- Florida Southern: This could be short lived. The Mocs are on a 14-game winning streak and play Tampa this weekend. A win could boost them into the Power 10, while a loss could bump them out of this spot.
- Millersville: The Marauders are a victim of metrics and fall just outside the Power 10 because other teams have stronger SOS. Don't be fooled: This team is loaded with talent at the plate and on the mound, especially with Alex Mykut slowly getting back into top form.
- St. Edward's: The Hilltoppers have a big series against UT Tyler this weekend, but have handled some LSC heavyweights well thus far with a series win over Texas A&M-Kingsville and split against West Texas A&M. They head into the big showdown amid a seven-game winning streak.
- West Chester: If these teams were ranked, the Golden Rams may be the first out, having a strong SOS and coming off a nice series win against Shippensburg. They got a later start than most, but if they keep winning, we are looking at a Power 10 team and possibly yet another run to Cary.
- West Georgia: The Wolves are one of the pleasant surprises of the season thus far, now 16-4 against a pretty tricky schedule. The big series win against Valdosta State this past weekend is what boosted them into this tier. Anthony Calabro continues to rake, now hitting .462 with four doubles, two triples, nine home runs, and six stolen bases.
Just missed (in alphabetical order)
- Arkansas Tech
- Cal Poly Pomona
- Colorado Mesa
- East Stroudsburg
- Hawaii Hilo
- Mount Olive
- Minnesota State
- Missouri Southern
- MSU Denver
- Point Loma
- Southern New Hampshire
- UT Tyler
- USC Aiken
- Valdosta State
- Wayne State (MI)