The DII baseball regional rankings are upon us. Several teams have completed the regular season which means conference tournaments are on the horizon. We are mere weeks away from the DII baseball championship... and North Greenville is still the top team in the land.
The DII baseball Power 10 rankings didn't see much change this week, although Tampa is once again on the rise. The Spartans look like a dangerous team right now, but the South Region is getting pretty wild.
There are a few big series this weekend that will certainly wreak havoc on the regional rankings. Here are five big series to watch:
- West Florida at Valdosta State: The Blazers have won six in a row and have signature wins (like a couple against Tampa) all over their schedule. West Florida may be one of the hottest teams in DII baseball right now and have won 13 in a row while slaying some of the best teams in the region.
- West Chester at Millersville: As you'll shortly see, Millersville is gaining separation atop the Atlantic Region and is one of the very best teams in DII baseball. The Golden Rams are a respectable 25-13, but really need to boost their metrics (strength of schedule and RPI in particular) and a win on the road the weekend after taking two of three from East Stroudsburg could do that.
- Rollins at Florida Southern: The Mocs are fresh off a series win against a tough Embry-Riddle team while Rollins has been pretty steady all season against a tough schedule. The South Region may be the biggest cluster right now. Simply put, every win matters.
- Mount Olive at UNC Pembroke: This is a battle of the second-place teams in Conference Carolinas. Both are 17-9 in conference, and of course Mount Olive is the only team to hand North Greenville a weekend series loss this season. Both teams are rolling into this series amid a two-game skid, so something has to give.
- Franklin Pierce at Southern New Hampshire: This is a battle between the first and second-place team in the NE10 Northeast Division. Right now it appears the Penmen are on track to the No. 1 seed in the East (in other news, water is wet!) with a perfect 20-0 record in the division. Franklin Pierce looks like a tough tourney-bound team, so this is a massive series.
- And keep an eye on: Angelo State at West Texas A&M; Harding at Arkansas Tech; Montevallo at West Georgia
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The eighth DII baseball Power 10 rankings of 2023 season
(All games through April 24)
No. 1 North Greenville | Previous: 1: What do we say at this point in the season? The Crusaders are tied for the most wins in the division at 40 and 30 percent of their losses came to one team (what's that say about Mount Olive?). This lineup can hit for average (.326 overall) and power (72 combined homers), has a true ace in Reece Fields, and one of the best bullpens in the game with Michael Rodriguez striking out 52 batters in just 27 innings on some incredible heat. There aren't many boxes this team doesn't check.
No. 2 Tampa | Previous: 3 (tied): Tampa leaps back into the No. 2 spot with a 33-7 record. They had yet another perfect week and with an .825 winning percentage and the second-best strength of schedule in DII baseball, the Spartans own the top RPI in the division. Since the rough series against Rollins, Tampa has won nine of 10, including sweeps of Florida Tech and Barry, two teams vying for a South Region spot in the tourney. EJ Cumbo is hitting .442 to lead the fifth-best hitting team in the division and the pitching staff has a top-10 ERA (3.49) and WHIP (1.27) as well. This team is going to be tough to beat in a short playoff-style series.
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No. 3 Angelo State | Previous: 3 (tied): The Rams had a tremendous four-game sweep of nationally ranked St. Edward's and if you were one of the ones concerned about how they would handle tougher competition, shame on you. The series closed with an 8-0 shutout helmed by ace Kade Bragg who is now 11-0 and may very well be the pitcher of the year. The pitching is deep, and the offense is incredibly balanced, making Angelo State one of the toughest teams in the country. Fun fact: The Rams have eight players with at least 10 stolen bases. The ability to make a single a double and take the extra base makes the Rams a run-scoring dynamo.
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No. 4 Millersville | Previous: 6 (tied): Since the Marauders series loss to East Stroudsburg, they have been perfect, winning nine in a row including a pair of wins over Wilmington (DE), a team battling for a tourney spot in the East. A big series awaits this weekend against West Chester, but Millersville has shown no signs of slowing down. The bats are led by Bren Taylor, who is hitting .431 with a 1.159 OPS, 21 extra base hits and 16 stolen bases as one of the more well-rounded players in DII. The starting rotation is stacked, and the bullpen is deep as Millersville posts a top-10 ERA and WHIP in the division. This team is built for a deep playoff run.
No. 5 Quincy | Previous: 2: Hawks' fans will be upset with this, as Quincy had a good weekend taking three of four from UMSL. It is probably unfair to drop Quincy this low with the SOS and RPI it has (both top two), but this isn't about the metrics. Quincy's bats are insane. Led by Luke Napleton's 22 dingers (second in DII baseball), the Hawks are on a record-setting pace in the home-run department. However, throw tournament metrics aside and Quincy's pitching is simply not as balanced as Tampa, Angelo State and Millersville. That said, Spencer Walker has been solid in the rotation, and if there is one thing we've learned this season it's that Quincy just wins.
No. 6 Colorado Mesa | Previous: 8: Don't look now, but the Mavericks suddenly have a higher SOS and RPI than Angelo State, which means Colorado Mesa is going to make the No. 1 seed in the South Central really close. The Mavs have won five in a row and 12 of their last 13, making them one of the hottest teams in DII. Per usual, the Mavericks do a lot of the damage at the plate, hitting .357 as a team with a combined 1.025 OPS, scoring 431 runs on 62 homers. Ace Kannon Hardy is intriguing: He has the stuff as one of the best strikeout artists in DII. If he can limit the extra-base hits in the tournament, he will be dangerous.
No. 7 Central Missouri | Previous: 9 (tied): The Mules struggled to a midweek loss against Drury last week, but rebounded with another meaningful sweep against Central Oklahoma. Central Missouri is another team that does so many things well. Carter Young (.383/.442/.716, 12 doubles, 15 home runs, 50 RBIs) leads a lineup that has six everyday players hitting above .300. The pitching staff, led by Conner Wolf and Cole LaLonde, can strike people out and limit walks, which is a huge advantage in the postseason.
No. 8 Rollins | Previous: 5: The Tars rebounded from their unsuccessful trip to Colorado Mesa with a series win as they head into a matchup with Florida Southern this weekend that has major South Region implications. Rollins is a very gritty team that is good at winning baseball games by playing smart. Adams Torres has been on a roll with six multi-hit games in his last eight tries, while Parker Smith provides the voltage with a team-high 16 home runs. On the bump, Nick Berger and Edward Berry are going to make any short series tough as both do a great job limiting runs.
No. 9 Southern Arkansas | Previous: 9 (tied): The Muleriders didn't have the strongest week, but this is a really strong team. Although we are looking at games only through April 24, they picked up a major resume-building win over UT Tyler on April 25 as this went to press. Riley Orr leads a solid lineup that has good bat-to-ball skills and although Brett McGee isn't making contact as often as last year, he still has that great power, leading the team with 14 home runs. And any pitching staff led by Jeremy Adorno is a good one. Isaiah Haynes in the bullpen is intriguing as well, already with 12 saves on the season.
No. 10 West Florida | Previous: First five out: Remember, the Power 10 isn't a projection, and they are also not entirely metric based. These rankings are very much a snapshot of the moment, and in this moment, West Florida is one of the best teams in DII baseball. The Argos already have wins against Florida Southern and Rollins and since the end of March have been absolutely on fire. They have a top-12 SOS and RPI and the starting pitching is going to be tough to beat in any three-game series. Of course, with a matchup against Valdosta State this weekend, this could quickly change, but right now, the Argos are playing good baseball.
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First five (ish) out (in alphabetical order):
As it was in the Power 10, the first five out were very tight as well. Here's a few extra for you this week.
- Cal State Monterey Bay: The Otters have been strong against a super tough schedule since a rough start to the season. Right now I have them slightly ahead of Cal State San Bernardino as the top team in the West.
- East Stroudsburg: That was a tough loss to West Chester and the Warriors have now lost two series in a row. I still think the pitching of Chase Nowak, Nick McAuliffe, and Brent Francisco make this a very tough team.
- Illinois Springfield: The Prairie Stars were idle last week and with a series against Truman State, can easily jump right back into the Power 10 this week.
- Missouri Southern: Since losing two in a row to Central Missouri, the Lions have won eight of nine. Led by Matt Miller's 20 home runs, this team can rake and will be a nightmare to pitchers in the postseason.
- Montevallo: The Falcons are back on track after a mini skid, having won five in a row. A huge series against West Georgia awaits this weekend.
- Mount Olive: The Trojans can play their way into a high seed with a series win over UNC Pembroke this weekend. The Southeast (and Conference Carolinas) is as deep as it's ever been, so this is a must win. Ace Erik Johnson hasn't allowed more than two runs since March 18.
- Wingate: May and June seem like when the Bulldogs come alive, and this team is loaded with experience. Since March 18, Wingate has big series wins against Lenoir-Rhyne and Newberry and closed out the regular season with a win over Mount Olive. This team can ball.
In the conversation
This is the best of the rest. The 2023 DII baseball season has been a great one thus far, and the top of the heap isn't that far apart. This list will remain for the rest of the season, in alphabetical order, and rounds out what would be a top 35.
- Alabama Huntsville
- Azusa Pacific
- Belmont Abbey
- Cal State San Bernardino
- Columbus State
- Florida Southern
- Minnesota State
- MSU Denver
- Point Loma
- Seton Hill
- Southern New Hampshire
- St. Edward's
- UT Tyler
- Valdosta State
- Wayne State (MI)
- West Chester