DII softball: Undefeated North Georgia, Colorado Mesa and Dixie State on the rise in new look Top 25
The reigning champion Minnesota State Mavericks are undefeated, remaining the No. 1 team in Division II softball. That's about the only thing that didn't change in the first poll of the regular season.
There was a huge shakeup in the Top 25. Eight new teams enter the mix, as the Mavericks were the only team to hold the same spot they earned in the preseason poll.
The new look top five is Minnesota State, North Georgia, Colorado Mesa, Dixie State, and Angelo State. Only Angelo State has suffered a loss, and that was a tough-fought, 3-1 battle against Colorado Mesa.
Despite taking the loss, Morgan Hill is transitioning nicely to the starting rotation, already 8-1 and the latest Lone Star Conference pitcher of the week. Sydney Sprague and Kaylee Smith are off to scorching starts for the Nighthawks. Sprague is hitting .409 with five home runs, while Smith is following up her strong freshman campaign with a 7-0 start behind a 0.44 ERA. Speaking of scorching hot, Colorado Mesa's senior superstar Brooke Hodgson is hitting .514 while going 2-0 in the circle.
Chico State is one of the biggest risers, jumping 13 spots to No. 8. It's been a lot of pitching behind the Wildcats early season success, as Sam Mulock, Haley Gilham and Naomi Monahan have combine for 13-0 record and 0.64 ERA. Saint Leo also jumped 13 spots into a tie at No. 10 with West Texas A&M. Keep an eye on Shane Starkey. She's becoming one of the best utility players in DII, off to a 4-0 start while hitting .516 as West Texas A&M cracked the Top 10. Lenoir-Rhyne wasn't far behind this week's big risers, jumping 11 spots to No. 14.
VIDEO: Bailey Akins ropes an RBI single to left field, scoring Kristin Worley for a 1-0 @ChicoStateSB lead in the bottom of the 1st inning vs @CSUSMcougars in game 2 of twin bill. @ChicoWildcats @baileyrene00 pic.twitter.com/RZJCFf79Yo— Joseph Shufelberger (@JShufelberger) February 16, 2018
North Alabama entered the poll at No. 13 this week, the highest of the eight new teams. Despite tough losses to No. 2 North Georgia and then No. 23 Saint Leo, the Lions have picked up signature wins against then No. 18 Valdosta State and No. 9 Southern Indiana. Also new to the poll this week are Concordia Irvine (16), Palm Beach Atlantic (18), Cameron (21), Merrimack (22), North Greenville (23), UC San Diego (24) and Texas A&M-Commerce (tied for 25th). Kinsie Hebler has been on absolute fire for the Lions, slugging five home runs and five doubles with a .559 batting average, boosting them into the Top 25 for the first time in program history.
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While Wayne State, Winona State, and Valdosta State also made notable jumps this week, West Florida dropped more spots than any other team. The Argonauts fell 14 spots to No. 17. They challenged themselves with a tough early slate, but with a huge weekend series in Florence, Ala. against North Alabama, the Agros can quickly right the ship.