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Wayne Cavadi | NCAA.com | April 5, 2022

UT Tyler tops the first DII softball Power 10 rankings of 2022

DII softball preview: What to look forward to in the 2022 season

The 2022 DII softball season has been one of intrigue. We have seen many nationally ranked teams square off on a weekly basis and they all seem to play each other very evenly, with series splits the norm and no one team separating itself from the field in dominant fashion.

That made these first DII softball Power 10 rankings of 2022 some of the toughest to date.

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Remember, this is not a poll — it is just my rankings based on overall record, but also several of the same metrics the selection committee uses come tournament time: strength of schedule, record against ranked opponents, and in-region wins to name just a few. There is plenty room for (welcomed) disagreement within these rankings.

The DII Softball Power 10 rankings (through April 3)

No. 1 UT Tyler

The Patriots have had quite the stretch since March 25. They played nationally ranked Angelo State, Lubbock Christian and Texas A&M-Kingsville in a row and split each two-game series. UT Tyler is sitting at 30-4 after playing a schedule with an overall .517 winning percentage, which is impressive. The Patriots are not only an offensive power, in the top five in batting average (.374), scoring (9.2 runs per game) and slugging percentage (.608), but are also one of the top defensive teams in DII softball at .978.

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No. 2 North Georgia

The Nighthawks are now winners of 30 games with more than a month to go. They have done it against the 46th-toughest schedule in the division with signature wins against West Florida, Texas A&M-Commerce, Alabama Huntsville and a split with Tampa, so we know they are battle tested. While the Nighthawks have had the luxury of some of the best pitchers in the division in recent years, the new-look three-headed monster of Tybee Denton, Delaney Heaberlin and Kristen Davis has performed very well in the circle.

No. 3 Tampa

Ask yourself what is more impressive? That Tampa has navigated the second-toughest schedule in all DII or that the Spartans have 25 wins in doing so. They swept Valdosta State and split against AUM in a pair of early season in-region showdowns, split against fellow Power 10-er North Georgia and just picked up a series win over Embry-Riddle on the heels of Mary Beth Feldman’s perfect game, the eighth in program history. That lowered her ERA to 0.59 on the season and the team ERA to an impressive 1.39.

No. 4 Valdosta State

The Blazers have been impressive, haven’t they? They are 24-5 and have done that against the 37th-toughest schedule in DII softball. They have a series sweep against nationally ranked Alabama Huntsville as well as signature wins against reigning champion West Texas A&M and West Florida. Opponents will have a hard time out-slugging this team: The Blazers are tops in home runs per game and have four players with at least seven home runs.

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No. 5 Auburn Montgomery

Don’t underestimate what the Warhawks are doing right now. They are 27-6, including going 15-3 in a stacked Gulf South Conference. AUM has also won 10 in a row. That includes a series win over UAH, a doubleheader sweep of North Georgia and a series sweep of West Florida. That hearty schedule is part of the 14th-toughest schedule in DII softball. The offense is solid, hitting .303 overall, but the pitching is deep, with four starters that have made at least five starts and a combined 2.87 ERA.

No. 6 Concordia (CA)

The Eagles were cruising, sitting at 36-0 until this past weekend’s tournament of champions. There, they lost their first three games of the season, but don’t be fooled: This is still a very good team. For the first time all season, we’ll have to see how the Eagles rebound from adversity as next weekend they host nationally ranked Cal State San Marcos. This is still one of the best teams in the circle in the entire division, which will go a long way. Concordia (CA) posts a 0.89 ERA and 0.93 WHIP, both tops in DII softball.

No. 7 Rogers State

The Hillcats are 31-3 and a perfect 10-0 in the MIAA all while playing a schedule with a combined .551 winning percentage. One of DII softball’s elite power hitters, Elexis Watson, has led the way, hitting .405 with nine home runs while Andrea Morales and M’Kayla Hillman have been sensational in the circle, going a combined 28-3 with a 1.46 ERA and 211 strikeouts. This team has plenty of signature wins, so expect the Hillcats to finish its run through the MIAA strong.

HISTORY: The programs with the most DII softball championships

No. 8 Cal State San Marcos

Where do we start? The last time we saw the Cougars’ softball team was way back in 2020. That team was 7-12 when the world shut down. Flash forward, and CSUSM is 31-3 against a schedule that has played to a combined .549 record. That includes a four-game sweep of CCAA rival Chico State, but a big test is still to come in this coming weekend’s showdown with Concordia (CA). This team hits the ball well with a .332 batting average, has a combined 1.88 ERA in the circle, and scores more than six runs per game. This is a team that comes at opponents with balance and is making quite the resume for itself.

No. 9 Lubbock Christian

The Chaps have played a very tough schedule and have 30 wins to show for it. That includes wins over nationally ranked teams Rogers State and Oklahoma Christian as well as series splits with UT Tyler, West Texas A&M and Texas A&M-Commerce. Lubbock Christian is one of the best offense teams in the division, in the top 10 in batting average (.353), home runs (51), and runs scored (278). Playing in the loaded Lone Star Conference means there are plenty of tough games remaining, but so far this has been impressive.

No. 10 Augustana (SD)

The Vikings are postseason regulars and sitting at 20-7, it looks like the DII softball tournament is once again on the horizon. We know this team can rake with Mary Pardo in the heart of the lineup, but she is not alone with three other Vikings that have hit at least five homers this year. They have also been strong in the circle as well, positing a 2.04 ERA and 1.17 WHIP. With signature wins up and down the schedule, Augustana (SD) has a chance to finish strong with both Winona State and St. Cloud State — two of the teams ahead of it in the NSIC — still on the schedule.

Just missed (in alphabetical order)

  • Angelo State
  • Grand Valley State
  • UIndy
  • Texas A&M-Kingsville
  • Minnesota State
  • Texas A&M-Commerce

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