Spoiler alert: North Greenville is still very good at baseball.
The defending champs are fresh off a dominating sweep of nationally ranked UNC Pembroke and the No. 1 team in the DII baseball Power 10 rankings. And while many of the faces are the same as last week, that can all change by Sunday.
That's because there are several key series this weekend that could not only change these Power 10 rankings, but the entire top 25 and the way the bracket is trending. So, before we jump into the Power 10, here are a few of those series to watch.
REWIND: Look back at the previous Power 10
4 DII baseball series with Power 10 implications
Rollins at Tampa: Two Power 10 teams square off in a rematch of last year's South Super Region battle. Rollins took that series, sweeping the Spartans to advance to Cary. The Spartans and Tars are first and second, respectively, in the SSC, but also the South Region. Tampa is leading the SSC in both hitting and pitching, but Rollins has plenty of talent that can make this a long weekend for that tough Tampa pitching staff. Tampa has won its last six in sweeps of Florida Southern and Nova Southeastern. There is plenty at stake in this rematch.
Quincy at Illinois Springfield: Speaking of rematches, the Hawks and Prairie Stars are an intriguing matchup of Quincy's big bats (the top offense in the GLVC) and UIS's solid pitching (the top pitching staff in the GLVC by quite a margin). This, too, is a pair of current Power 10 teams squaring off for the first time since last year's Midwest Super Regionals, one that the winning team piled up double-digit runs in all three games. Quincy has played arguably the toughest schedule in DII baseball and is rolling into this series winners of seven in a row, while the Prairie Stars have won their last six. Something has to give. Expect some fireworks at the plate in what should be an excellent series.
North Greenville at Mount Olive: The Crusaders are a steam engine, but they come off that sweep of UNC Pembroke and have to face a Mount Olive team that sits right behind them in the Conference Carolina standings. The Trojans have regained some momentum after slipping in the national rankings and have an offense that can hit (.325 with a 0.921 OPS) and the third-best pitching staff in Conference Carolinas. This is the statement Mount Olive needs to make to keep hopes alive in the tough Southeast Region. For the Crusaders, the top team in the conference in, well, just about everything, they are looking to keep their 15-game winning streak alive and hold on to the top spot in DII baseball.
Point Loma at Azusa Pacific: Right now, these are two teams outside the Power 10 looking in, but that is mainly due to slow starts to the season. Don't forget, Point Loma is the defending national runners-up, was in the preseason Power 10, and has played an incredibly tough schedule. Like the Cougars, the Sea Lions look to have righted the ship as the two clash in a huge West Region showdown. The winning team could find its way into the Power 10, or at least "First five out" next week.
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The fourth DII baseball Power 10 rankings of 2023 season
(All games through March 28)
No. 1 North Greenville | Previous: 1: The Crusaders have been discussed. The UNC Pembroke series win was big because the only question mark you could possibly have was their strength of schedule. There isn't a more balanced team at seemingly every position in DII baseball right now.
No. 2 Tampa | Previous: 2: The Spartans have that big series but have checked just about every box you can up to this point. The four regular starters thus far into the season are arguably the deepest in DII and there are hitters galore up and down the lineup. This is a big test that the Spartans need to pass, but for now, they are right behind the Crusaders for the top spot in DII.
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No. 3 Angelo State | Previous: 3: Angelo State thumped a pretty good Lubbock Christian team this past weekend, putting up 57 runs in the four-game sweep. The only game the Rams didn't score at least 10 runs was a 5-0, one-hit masterpiece from undefeated Kade Bragg who now sits at 8-0 with a 0.37 ERA. The team has lost just once in March and is among the DII leaders in average (.362), on-base percentage (.482), scoring (10.9 runs per game), and stolen bases (3.12 per game).
No. 4 Quincy | Previous: 4: A series win this weekend will cap one of the more impressive 25-game starts to a season we have seen in a long time. It won't be easy, especially on the road. Nolan Wosman (.422, 1.262 OPS) and Luke Napleton (13 home runs) are the two big bats to watch, but Austin Simpson, Gino D'Alessio, and Lance Logsdon are going to make things tough on the Prairie Stars pitching. This in no way determines the Midwest Region this early, but it should be a preview of the Super Regionals.
No. 5 Montevallo | Previous: 5: The Falcons are now 24-5 with the fifth-best RPI (at least by my calculations) in DII baseball. They saw their seven-game winning streak come to an end last weekend, but still won yet another series and haven't lost one all season. Sam Kuchinski and Luke Mitchell won't cool off, each hitting .426 as April approaches, while four Falcons have at least eight home runs.
No. 6 Millersville| Previous: 6: The Marauders were on Spring Break, so not much to report here, but certainly worth pointing out that they are on a seven-game winning streak and still undefeated in Atlantic Region play as April begins.
No. 7 Columbus State | Previous: 9: The Cougars had a busy week out of conference in the South Region, sweeping both West Florida and Eckerd and bouncing back after that tightly contested series loss to USC Aiken. They stare down another must-win series against Young Harris this coming weekend. With the best pitching staff in the Peach Belt Conference, the race to the finish between Columbus State and the Pacers should be a good one.
No. 8 Illinois Springfield | Previous: 8: The Prairie Stars are rolling, winners of their last six heading into this weekend's big showdown. Ryan Carmack continues to lead the pitching, which has the 13th-best ERA in DII baseball. Carmack strikes out 17.73 per game, tops in DII and second-best in any division. They just steamrolled a UIndy team that was undefeated two weeks ago and have a lot of momentum rolling into the weekend.
No. 9 Rollins | Previous: 7: A midweek loss to a very good Florida Southern team dings Rollins just a bit but make no mistake: This team is good. They have played a top-30 schedule and produced a top-10 RPI, so even the tough loss doesn't hurt them too much. The question is how does that affect their momentum coming into this weekend's big series? Parker Smith has three home runs in his last four games, so keep an eye on his bat this weekend.
No. 10 East Stroudsburg | Previous: First five out: The Warriors have played two huge, must-win series this season. The first came against annual East Region favorites Southern New Hampshire and the second was this past weekend against PSAC foe Shippensburg, which was right behind them in the regional standings. East Stroudsburg not only won both series but swept both series in pretty convincing fashion. You won't find a lot of pop in the lineup, but the Warriors have two hitters still north of .400 and the starting pitching is incredibly deep: Brent Francisco (1.60 ERA) and Chase Nowak (1.80 ERA) have been elite through seven starts.
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First five out:
- Arkansas Tech
- Colorado Mesa
- Missouri Southern
- St. Edward's
In the conversation (in alphabetical order)
- Azusa Pacific
- Cal State Monterey Bay
- Cal State San Bernardino
- Charleston (WV)
- Florida Southern
- Hawaii Hilo
- Mount Olive
- Minnesota State
- MSU Denver
- Point Loma
- Southern New Hampshire
- Valdosta State
- Wayne State (MI)
- West Georgia
- West Chester