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College | Rankings | 5/18/2016

DII, NAIA, DIII rankings: May 18

Nick Herfordt        
Photo: Anne Appleton




May 11 Rankings

The postseason regionals were announced last week and for the most part I think the selection committees were on point. As always there were a few inclusions/omissions as well as seedings which left me a bit puzzled, but overall it’s hard to argue too hard.

Notable absences from the D-II level included Florida Southern, Erskine, Northwest Nazarene and Augustana. In the NAIA, Bryan and Northwestern Ohio were left out in the cold, and at the D-III level the season came to an earlier than anticipated close for both Buena Vista and Occidental. Hopefully they’ll use the snubs as springboards for a bigger and better season in 2017, but that’s little consolation for the seniors who had to hang their spikes up for the last time.

Nevertheless, the regionals are set. The human element has been removed from postseason play (that is except for the Minnesota politicians who may not allow for a state team to travel to North Carolina). All the opinions in the world don’t mean anything at this point and the outcomes will be decided on the field.

Along with the final regular season rankings are the lists of teams chosen to compete in each of the three small school national postseason tournaments. I’ve made my own prediction for each regional (denoted with an asterisk) using my patented gut-feeling/hunch forecasting technique that has was taught to me based upon the writings and teachings of generations upon generations of amateur baseball internet pundits.

The final small school rankings will be announced following the D-II championship series. Until then I’m taking the next couple weeks off to watch some baseball.

Rankings are based on games through Sunday, May 15.


NCAA Division II

Atlantic Regional  Millersville, Pa.
1. Millersville (PA)*
2. West Chester (PA)
3. Mercyhurst (PA)
4. Shepherd (WV)
5. Seton Hill (PA)
6. East Stroudsburg (PA)
7. Chowan (NC)

Millersville is an easy choice for me here. The Marauders were my No. 3 pick going into the season, spent the middle part of the year as the second-ranked team and the last month in the No. 1 position. The Lakers would be my second choice and WCU third, but I’m confident to go all in for Millersville to make it back to the final eight.

Central Regional  St. Cloud, Minn.
1. St. Cloud State (MN)*
2. Central Missouri (MO)
3. Minnesota Duluth (MN)
4. Arkansas-Monticello (AR)
5. Missouri Western (MO)
6. Emporia State (KS)
7. Southwestern Oklahoma (OK)
8. Minnesota State (MN)

This is an extremely difficult choice, maybe the toughest of the eight. The Huskies were my No. 1 team and spent the majority of the season in the catbird seat, but after starting the season 23-0, they went 19-8 with some bad losses. UCM on the other hand gained momentum as the season progressed and has an explosive offense. At the end of the day I’m going to go with the senior-laden SCSU team to take the region.

East Regional  Rindge, N.H.
1. Franklin Pierce (NH)*
2. Southern New Hampshire (NH)
3. St. Thomas Aquinas (NY)
4. Felician (NJ)
5. Bridgeport (CT)
6. Molloy (NY)
7. Dowling (NY)

A two-horse race with Franklin Pierce and SNHU being the smart bets to advance. The Ravens had a disastrous NE-10 conference tournament performance, but those losses may get them back on track and focused to defend their home turf. FPU’s been in my top five all season so I’m not going to abandon them as my pick now. I’d be surprised, but not shocked if the Penmen were able to steal the crown.

Midwest Regional  Quincy, Ill.
1. Quincy (IL)
2. Grand Valley St. (MI)
3. Indianapolis (IN)
4. Southern Indiana (IN)
5. Missouri S&T (MO)
6. Ashland (OH)*
7. Hillsdale (MI)
8. Alderson Broaddus (WV)

A very difficult choice with no clear-cut favorites. Quincy was a top 10 preseason pick but were uneven the last few weeks. GVSU has quietly put together a respectable season but hasn’t quite knocked anyone’s socks off. I’m going to go rogue here and pick the No. 6 seed Ashland. The Eagles were in my preseason Top 25, but were on the outside looking in for most of the season. Nonetheless, AU has a balanced club with quality hitting, pitching and defense to take the regional crown.

South Regional  Tampa, Fla.
1. Tampa (FL)
2. West Florida (FL)
3. Nova Southeastern (FL)*
4. Delta State (MS)
5. Lynn (FL)
6. West Georgia (GA)
7. Claflin (SC)

The Sharks have been scorching hot in the second half of the season and had a conference team ERA more than a run and a half less than their nearest SSC competitor. The seeding structure gives Tampa and West Florida huge advantages over the other clubs, but the highly talented Sharks team has what it takes to emerge victorious.

Southeast Regional  Columbus, Ga.
1.   Columbus State (GA)*
2.   Lander (SC)
3.   Belmont Abbey (NC)
4.   USC Aiken (SC)
5.   Tusculum (TN)
6.   Catawba (NC)
7.   Mount Olive (NC)

Columbus State jumped into the top 10 early and comfortably stayed there the bulk of the season. The Cougars should have an axe to grind competitively after getting hosed out of a regional opportunity last year. Home field advantage should give them the extra edge they need to fend off their PBC rivals or an upset from one of the other capable clubs.

South Central Regional  Grand Junction, Colo.
1.   Colorado Mesa (CO)
2.   St. Edward’s (TX)*
3.   Angelo State (TX)
4.   West Texas A&M (TX)
5.   Texas A&M-Kingsville (TX)
6.   Lubbock Christian (TX)

CMU and SEU both finished the season in the top five and each has a freakishly awesome pitching staff that can take the title if they should reach the final eight; its unfortunate that each of them can’t advance to Cary for a shot at the title. The fashionable pick will be for Mesa to win, but I’m going to go with the Hilltoppers.

West Regional  Riverside, Calif.
1.   Cal Baptist (CA)*
2.   Dixie State (UT)
3.   Cal Poly Pomona (CA)
4.   Chico State (CA)
5.   Cal St. Monterey Bay (CA)
6.   Cal St. East Bay (CA)

The Lancers entered the top 10 early and firmly held their position as one of the nation’s elite the rest of the way.  Eight of the Lancers’ 11 losses were by a single run this season meaning outscoring CBU is no easy task. Their conference rival Dixie State is a formidable foe and any of the CCAA teams would be a reputable representative from the West, but I’m taking the Lancers to make the cross-country trip to Cary.


Rk. Prev. School ST Record Week
1 1 Millersville Marauders PA 47-5 2-1
2 2 Tampa Spartans FL 41-8 2-1
3 3 St. Edward's Hilltoppers TX 43-10 3-0
4 5 Colorado Mesa Mavericks CO 43-11 4-1
5 8 Cal Baptist Lancers CA 39-11 2-0
6 6 Nova Southeastern Sharks FL 35-15 0-0
7 7 Columbus St. Cougars GA 42-12 3-1
8 4 Franklin Pierce Ravens NH 45-6 1-2
9 10 St. Cloud St. Huskies MN 42-8 4-0
10 9 West Florida Argos FL 34-15 0-1
11 14 Southern New Hampshire Penmen NH 45-5 4-0
12 15 Central Missouri Mules MO 34-12 4-1
13 11 USC Aiken Pacers SC 37-16 1-2
14 12 Lander Bearcats SC 38-14 2-2
15 13 Mercyhurst Lakers PA 40-12 2-2
16 16 Quincy Hawks IL 35-14 2-2
17 17 Cal Poly Pomona Broncos CA 34-15 2-2
18 20 Florida Southern Moccasins FL 32-17 4-1
19 18 West Alabama Tigers AL 35-13 1-2
20 NR Chico State Wildcats CA 35-20 4-1
21 NR Arkansas-Monticello Boll Weevils  AK 36-14 5-1
22 19 Lubbock Christian Chaparrals TX 35-15 0-2
22 NR Grand Valley State Lakers MI 35-16-1 4-1
23 22 Emporia State Hornets MO 37-17 2-2
25 25 Dixie State Trailblazers UT 38-12 0-0

Dropped out: Southern Indiana (21), East Stroudsburg (23), Minnesota Duluth (24).


NAIA

Faulkner Bracket  Montgomery, Ala.
1.   Faulkner (AL)*
2.   Vanguard (CA)
3.   Texas Wesleyan (TX)
4.   Central Methodist (MO)
5.   Texas A&M Texarkana (TX)

Faulkner has been my top team for the majority of the season and there’s no reason to go against them at this point, nor will I for the remainder of the season. The Eagles already have wins this season over nine different teams that have reached the opening round. Vanguard is the only team I give a glimmer of hope to usurping the host.

Grand Rapids Bracket  Grand Rapids, Mich.
1.   Bellevue (NE)*
2.   York (NE)
3.   Davenport (MI)
4.   Clarke (IA)
5.   Saint Xavier (IL)

The Bruins spent almost the entire season ranked in the top three with a cup of coffee at the top spot. The pair of Panther sobriqueted squads have a puncher’s chance to advance, but I like Bellevue’s moxie to push them to the next round. However, I’m concerned about them turning it back up to 11 as they haven’t played the toughest of teams the second half of the season.

Hutchinson Bracket  Hutchinson, Kan.
1.   Science & Arts (OK)
2.   Tabor (KS)*
3.   Wayland Baptist (TX)
4.   Morningside (IA)
5.   Mayville State (ND)

The region is being played only an hour way from the home campus of Tabor, a preseason top three choice of mine, which may give them a small edge over the two Sooner Athletic Conference teams. USAO and Wayland have been coming on strong to close the season, but I’m going to go with the Bluejays who I’ve had in or about the top 10 all season, thanks in large part to the monster bat of Manny DeLeon.

 
Jamestown Bracket  Jamestown, N.D.
1.   Sterling (KS)*
2.   Missouri Baptist (MO) 
3.   Jamestown (ND)
4.   Midland (NE)
5.   Avila (MO)

Missouri Baptist was my No. 1 pick last season and I’m still a bit inclined to buy a ticket to ride the Spartan train to Idaho. However Sterling has so much offense it’s downright scary as they led the NAIA in batting average while also topping the division in home runs per game. Nevertheless, at the end of the day it’s the Warriors’ pitching staff which wins me over. The established staff finished in the top five in ERA and has the dependable Ryan Pope as the closer.

Kingsport Bracket  Kingsport, Tenn.
1.   Tennessee Wesleyan (TN)*
2.   Middle Georgia State (GA)
3.   St. Thomas (FL) 
4.   Indiana Tech (IN)
5.   Rio Grande (OH)

The Bobcats were my preseason No. 1 team and I’ve been high on them all year long, but Tennessee Wesleyan almost exponentially charged up the rankings to finish fourth for the year. A definite close one to call. I initially was leaning towards the Bobcats to make it back to Lewiston, but in the end I’m going to go with the Bulldogs who have the absolutely incredible Ryan Hartman on the mound and the dynamic Wandy Polanco at the plate and on the basepaths.

Lawrenceville Bracket  Lawrenceville, Ga.
1.   Georgia Gwinnett (GA)*
2.   IU Southeast (IN)
3.   Lindsey Wilson (KY)
4.   Olivet Nazarene (IL)
5.   British Columbia (BC)

The Blue Raiders have the talent to challenge GGC for the region, but they’ve lost too many games they should have won this season, which makes me extremely leery. Gwinnett didn’t face the most formidable of foes during the season, but did win games over the ilk of Faulkner, Keiser and USC Beaufort. With that, I’m completely comfortable going all-in to back the speedy Grizzlies to capture their hosted regional.

Montgomery Bracket  Montgomery, Ala.
1.   Auburn Montgomery (AL) 
2.   Keiser (FL) *
3.   Central Baptist (AR)
4.   LSU Shreveport (LA) 
5.   Indiana Wesleyan (IN)

I initially picked Keiser to advance, but then switched my choice to the WarHawks after careful consideration. After some more thought I decided I’d make the Pilots and their explosive offense my longshot pick to move on. All three teams have some strong pros to make them an understandable pick to move on, but they all have a glaring Achilles Heel as well. I have no idea, Kaiser in a coin-flip.

Santa Barbara Bracket  Santa Barbara, Calif.
1.   Westmont (CA) 
2.   Madonna (MI)
3.   The Master's (CA)*
4.   William Carey (MS)
5.   College of Idaho (ID)

This is the most balanced region. West coast clubs don’t play a wide spectrum of opposition during the season. They’re off in their own world, doing their own thing without much contact with teams east of the Rockies. TMC was an early favorite of mine and dropped out of the rankings, but they’ve had a strong finish; the same can be said for Madonna. William Carey had a strong schedule overall. I won’t be surprised regardless of winner and am going to go with the Mustangs as a three seed upset.

Savannah Bracket  Savannah, Ga.
1.   Campbellsville (KY)
2.   USC Beaufort (SC) 
3.   Freed-Hardeman (TN)*
4.   Taylor (IN)
5.   Point (GA)

I’m not sure how Campbellsville was able to get a No. 1 seed. They’re good, but number one? They had Lindsay Wilson’s number all season, but nothing else really really knocks my socks off to earn that first round bye. I do like the cut of both USC Beaufort and Freed-Hardeman’s jib though as I can see either of them advancing. Beaufort was red hot the middle of the season while FHU was consistent throughout. I’m going to go with the Lions because there was once movie called Sand Sharks that starred Brooke Hogan, which wasn’t bad, real bad, but not to the point where it was so bad it was good.


Rk. Prev. School ST Record Week
1 1 Faulkner Eagles AL 46-12 0-0
2 2 Georgia Gwinnett Grizzlies GA 55-4 2-0
3 3 Bellevue Bruins NE 47-9 1-0
4 4 Tennessee Wesleyan Bulldogs TN 40-11 5-1
5 5 Auburn Montgomery WarHawks AL 42-15 0-0
6 6 Lewis-Clark State Warriors ID 48-7 0-0
7 8 USC Beaufort Sand Sharks SC 43-12 0-0
8 9 Tabor Bluejays KS 42-16 0-0
9 10 Freed-Hardeman Lions TN 40-17 0-0
10 7 Davenport Panthers MI 41-15 2-2
11 11 Westmont Warriors CA 41-11 0-2
12 12 St. Thomas Bobcats FL 35-20 0-1
13 13 Sterling Warriors KS 47-13 0-0
14 14 LSU Shreveport Pilots LA 38-18 0-0
15 16 Missouri Baptist Spartans MO 42-13 0-0
16 17 York Panthers NE 44-15 0-0
17 15 Vanguard Lions CA 37-13-1 0-2
18 19 Keiser Seahawks FL 37-20 1-0
19 20* USAO Drovers OK 45-11 1-0
20 22 Madonna Crusaders MI 41-15 4-1
21 25 The Master's Mustangs CA 34-16 4-1
22 20* Wayland Baptist Pioneers TX 44-14 0-1
23 18 Northwestern Ohio Racers OH 40-14 0-2
24 24 Campbellsville Tigers KY 36-15 0-0
25 23 Bryan Lions TN 38-18 2-2

Dropped out: None.


NCAA Division III

South Region  Mount Berry, Ga.
1.   Emory (GA)*
2.   Birmingham-Southern (AL)
3.   Shenandoah (VA)
4.   Marietta (GA)
5.   Huntingdon (AL) 
6.   Thomas More (KY)

This is one of those regions where it’s unfair that only one team can advance as Emory, BSU and Shenandoah each spent the overwhelming majority of the season ranked in the top 10. All three have national title talent but at least a pair of them will have their season ended here. I’m going with the host Emory to make their third consecutive trip to the D-III World Series based on their incredible pitching staff which has a nation leading 2.55 ERA.

Mideast Region  Washington, Pa.
1.   La Roche (PA)
2.   Randolph-Macon (VA)*
3.   Wooster (OH)
4.   TCNJ (NJ)
5.   Ohio Wesleyan (OH)
6.   Johns Hopkins (MD)
7.   St. Joseph Long Island (NY)
8.   Widener (PA)

This should be a two-horse race between La Roche and Randolph-Macon. The Redhawks have one of the most explosive teams offensively with a club currently second in the nation in slugging percentage; however the Yellow Jackets have quite a bit of pop as well. Ultimately I give a slight edge to Randolph-Macon because they have a better all-around team, especially on the mound.

Central Region  Sauget, Ill.
1.   UW Whitewater (WI)
2.   Wartburg (IA)
3.   Augustana (IL)
4.   Washington (MO)*
5.   Rose-Hulman (IN)
6.   Westminster (MO)

If presented with these same teams a month ago I’d pick UW Whitewater in an instant, but the Warhawks faltered down the stretch and were barely over .500 since April 13. Neither of the other five teams really tempt me so I’m going to go out on a limb and pick Washington to advance. The St. Louis based Bears barely have to travel and can use the comfort of home to give them an edge.

West Region  Spokane, Wash.
1.   Trinity (TX)*
2.   Cal Lutheran (CA)
3.   Case Western Reserve (OH)
4.   Whitworth (WA)
5.   Texas-Tyler (TX)
6.   Pacific Lutheran (WA)

Trinity is an unquestioned favorite to advance as they’re the No. 1 team in the rankings and none of the other five are in the Top 25. The Tigers do have to travel halfway across the country, but their overall talent should overcome any travel weary woes.

Mid-Atlantic Region  Moosic, Pa.
1.   Misericordia (PA)
2.   St. John Fisher (NY)*
3.   Salisbury (MD)
4.   Haverford (PA)
5.   Mass-Boston (MA)
6.   Kean (NJ)
7.   Salve Regina (RI)
8.   Penn State-Berks (PA)

This isn’t the strongest region talent-wise, but one that will be very competitive. Salisbury is the highest ranked team of the bunch but drew a surprisingly low three seed, which means their first game won’t be a cakewalk. I see this coming down to a battle of the Seagulls’ pungent offense matching up against the Cardinals’ stingy pitching staff. Nine out of 10 times I pick arms over bats and I’m going to keep with that tradition and go with St. John Fisher.

New York Region  Auburn, N.Y.
1.   Cortland State (NY)*
2.   Ramapo (NJ)
3.   Frostburg State (MD)
4.   Susquehanna (PA)
5.   Union (NY)
6.   Castleton (VT)

This is Cortland State’s region to lose. The Red Dragons spent the first 2/3 of the season as the top-ranked team before a messy two-week stretch brought them back to Earth. Cortland is playing like the team to beat once again and have won their last 16 games and haven’t lost a game by more than one run since mid March. 

New England Region  Willimantic, Conn.
1.   Wheaton (MA)
2.   Oswego State (NY)
3.   Tufts (MA) *
4.   Keystone (PA)
5.   Suffolk (MA)
6.   Mitchell (CT)
7.   Eastern Connecticut State (CT)
8.   Salem State (MA)

My heart says to pick Tufts, but my head says Oswego State. The Lakers have wins over Salisbury, St. John Fisher and the experience of playing some close games with Cortland State, but Tufts was my preseason dark horse so I’d like to see them go deep into the postseason. I think if you play this region out five times Oswego wins three of them, but for this go round I’m picking the Jumbos.

Midwest Region  La Crosse, Wis.
1.   UW La Crosse (WI)*
2.   Concordia-Chicago (IL)
3.   North Central (IL)
4.   St. Scholastica (MN)
5.   St. John’s (MN)
6.   Luther (IA) 
7.   Kalamazoo (MI)
8.   Beloit (WI)

I think this is a top heavy region with the top four teams all being very capable of capturing the regional crown. Nevertheless, I see UW La Crosse as being a bit better than the other teams in the region. The Eagles have momentum after recently rolling through the WIAC tournament and should he able to hold off a formidable Concordia-Chicago club and stop the Cougars from celebrating on their home field.


Rk. Prev. School ST Record Week
1 1 Trinity Tigers TX 35-7 0-0
2 2 Emory Eagles GA 30-10 0-0
3 3 Cortland State Red Dragons NY 37-5 0-0
4 4 Birmingham-Southern Panthers AL 37-11 0-0
5 5 UW La Crosse Eagles WI 34-8 3-0
6 6 Randolph-Macon Yellow Jackets VA 32-6-1 0-0
7 7 Salisbury Seagulls MD 25-10 0-0
8 8 Shenandoah Hornets VA 32-10 0-0
9 9 Southern Maine Huskies MA 29-11 0-2
10 10 Oswego State Lakers NY 32-9 0-0
11 11 Ramapo RoadRunners NJ 33-10-1 0-0
12 13 La Roche Redhawks PA 36-9 4-1
13 14 Wooster Fighting Scots OH 34-11 4-1
14 12 UW Whitewater Warhawks WI 29-14 2-2
15 15 Tufts Jumbos MA 32-6 3-0
16 17 Frostburg State Bobcats MD 30-12 0-0
17 24 St. Scholastica Saints MN 31-9 3-0
18 19 Cal Lutheran Kingsmen CA 31-11 0-0
19 21 Concordia University Chicago Cougars IL 32-11 3-0
20 16 Webster Gorloks MO 27-13 1-2
21 18 Wartburg Knights IA 33-11 2-2
22 NR Misericordia Cougars PA 34-11 1-0
23 22 Buena Vista Beavers IA 33-11 2-2
24 23 North Central Cardinals IL 30-10 2-2
25 25 Occidental Tigers CA 32-10 0-0

Dropped out: St. Thomas (20).

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